By Cecilia Ologunagba
Washington D.C., Dec. 17, 2022
Nigerian envoys servicing in the United States (U.S.) missions of Washington D.C, New York and Atlanta have congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the diplomats seized the opportunity of the Town Hall meeting Buhari held with Nigerians in the US on Friday in Washington to celebrate him.
The Nigerian leader had attended a 3-day U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit and participated is some sidelines events, including attending the Nigeria Business and Investment Roundtable.
Nigeria’s ambassador to the U.S., Dr (Mrs.) Uzoma Emenike presented a portrait on behalf other Ambassadors and Nigerians in diaspora to the President.
Other Ambassadors present were Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija and his counterpart in Atlanta, Amb. Amina Smaila and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador (Professor) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
They also cut a beautiful birthday cake designed in Nigerian map and colours – white, green and white- with the President.
Earlier at the meeting, Buhari had urged Nigerians living abroad to continue to be good ambassadors and to live in peace among themselves and with their hosts as “there can be no progress in disunity.’’
President Buhari expressed delight that the Nigerian nationals, “ambassadors,’’ were giving back to Nigeria as expected of them, urging them to do more.
“It is gratifying for me to note that many Nigerians in the U.S. have continued to excel in their careers leading to some persons of Nigerian origin being appointed into the cabinet of President Joe Biden.
“Similarly, many have been elected or appointed into various responsible and competitive positions in the United States of America.
“I congratulate those who have brought honour and pride to our country.
“I thank and commend them for their respective successes.
“I equally urge them to demonstrate the highest sense of responsibility to continue to remain reference points of excellence as they serve in this country,’’ Buhari said.
Speaking further, the President said, “I understand that in 2021, our diaspora home remittances through official channels stand at Twenty Billion US Dollars ($20bn) which is four times over the value of our Foreign Direct Investment. In addition, many of our diaspora compatriots are actively investing in our Healthcare, Agriculture, Education, Information and Communication Technology, Housing and Real Estate, Transportation, Oil and Gas, and other Services.”
He assured the Nigerians that the process leading to the election of a new administration was going well.
“As you all are aware, the processes to our national elections in 2023, have continued to progress smoothly and consistent with the laws of our land.
“I have repeatedly assured of my personal commitment as well as that of our administration’s commitment to ensuring that the processes continue to be transparent, credible, free and fair.
“This will lead to smooth elections and transition to the next government.
“This is the only way we can strengthen democracy in Nigeria.
“It is the only way to set the right example for the rest of Africa and hopefully stop the recourse to unconstitutional changes of governments in our sub-region and the rest of the African continent,’’ he said.
In her remarks, Chairman of NiDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa said that the first diaspora meeting by President Buhari was held in Washington and eulogised the president for his continued support for NiDCOM.
She also lauded the president for being always ready to meet with Nigerians anytime he travelled outside Nigeria.
Those in attendance at the town hall meeting were Nigerians and politicians of Nigerian descent, especially those voted and appointed into various positions after the last election in the U.S.
Others were accomplished medical doctors; sportsmen and women, those in the education, aviation as well as media and entertainment sectors.