*Dr Gerald Muforo, Chairman Local Organising Committee, Nigerians-Americans Business Forum and organiser
By Fortune Abang
Oyo State Gov. Seyi Makinde, Dr Adedeji Adeleke, Nigerian foremost business magnate and former Anambra Gov Peter Obi have been conferred with “Outstanding Leadership Award 2020” in the U.S.
The award was also conferred on Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerians Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) by the Nigerian American Awards (NNA) at the awards night in Florida, United States.
The Chairman of (NNA) Dr Afolabi Andu, in a statement on Sunday said the award was instituted by the Nigerian-American Business Forum (NABF), a group of accomplished and influential professionals based in the U.S.
“The award was instituted by NABF to recognise the contributions of Nigerians who are doing their best to change the narratives of the country.
“The forum was primarily established to bridge the gap between Nigerian-American-based businesses and their home-based counterparts in the public and private sectors.
“We commend the awardees for their excellent representation of the Nigerian Diasporas and contributions to Nigeria’s development,” he said.
He explained that award was conferred on Makinde for exemplary leadership and outstanding performance that brought about transforming governance landscape in his state.
Adeleke, Chairman of Pacific Holdings and proprietor of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, was conferred with “Business Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 award” for outstanding business performance and exemplary entrepreneurial leadership in Nigeria.
Obi bagged “Lifetime Achievement Award 2020” for outstanding entrepreneurship, exemplary leadership and visionary excellence” for the transformation of Anambra during his tenure as governor of the state.
While, Dabiri-Erewa was conferred with the “Visionary Leader of the Year 2020 award” for exemplary leadership and outstanding success recorded in handling affairs at NIDCOM.
An Awardee, Adeleke, represented by Mr Alani Ogunlade, expressed appreciation to NABF and NAA for the gesture while commending the forum for attracting investments to Nigeria in spite of challenging investment environment.
Adeleke said while he as an entrepreneur was qualified to boast of being Diasporan, he returned home and deployed the skills acquired to change the business and educational landscape in Nigeria.
“I am challenging fellow Diasporans of the need to use their expertise and connections to develop their country,” Adeleke said.
He said that hundreds of students in the university were on scholarships and he had taken responsibility for those who were on the scholarship of his late brother, Sen. Isiaka Adeleke.
Speaking, Obi commended the organisers for the award and urged Nigerians in Diaspora to always promote the interest of the country, saying the task of developing Nigeria was for all Nigerians.
Obi who àlso received the award on behalf of Makinde, Obi testified that the Oyo governor had been on right track in changing governance and development landscape of the state.
He advised leaders to always save funds, adding that “a country that does not save is not conscious of the future and may likely bequeath anarchy rather than hope.
“Even thinking about the rot in the country is a proof that Nigerians in the Diaspora are becoming aware of the missing link in the development of their homeland.
“Using the Chinese, Indians and Jews as examples, it was the history of a people whose Diasporans never forgot their homelands,” Obi said.
Also speaking, Dabiri-Erewa expressed optimism that organised Diaspora group like NABF could assist in re-channeling the energy among them homewards, for the development of Nigeria.
She said Nigeria Diaspora remittances currently estimated at 26 billion dollars per annum, was second only to oil, as source of national revenue and most of the remittances were informal and uncategorised.
“Yet we cannot discount its remittances value and the good it can do to nation-building if properly leveraged. Nigeria, as it is, offers a huge demographic and consumer market,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Other recipients of the awards included Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (rtd) Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Ben Okoyen.
Others were Deputy Consuls-General for New York and Atlanta, Nicholas Ella and Innocent Iwejuo respectively, and Nigerian Diasporans across the continents.