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Some Nigerians with the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande at Nigeria House after the Parade in New York

Nigeria’s independence rainy parade in New York best in 32 years – Marshal

Nigerians displaying colourful attires at the Independence Day Parade in New York
Nigerian Nurse Association Float at 2023 Independence Day Parade in New York
By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Oct. 8, 2023

Dr Babajide Olagbaiye, an 81-year-old Parade Marshal, has described Nigeria’s 2023 Independence Day Parade in New York held under a downpour as the best so far since the event started in 1991.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigerians in the U.S. and officials of the Nigerian mission in New York came out in good numbers with umbrellas and raincoats to attend the parade on Saturday.

The parade and the carnival were organised by the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN) in partnership with the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York.

The parade, which started on Second Avenue, 54th Street in Manhattan, ended at the Nigerian House on 44th Street, and was followed by the Independence Day carnival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Speaking with NAN at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Olagbaiye said the parade was colourful with a good number of law enforcement officers participating.

“This year’s parade is the best so far compared to other parades even under the rain.

“A lot of the attendees today are first timers, even the law enforcement officers are happy to be at the parade.

“We have worked hard to get law enforcement officers to join us in the parade before but today a good number of them are here,” he said.

According to him, the parade has been improving every year for the past 32 years, and that the first parade which was organised in 1991 was also done under the rain.

“The first parade we had was in Harlem in 1991; the way the rain is falling today was the way rain fell that day, but today marks the second day it would happen since we started the parade.

“We have been very prayerful, there was only one parade that was completely flushed by rain, but other parades have been successful,” he said.

According to him, the organisation started as a Pastoral Council and when it became popular the name was changed to OAN.

He expressed hope in the future of Nigeria, urging the leaders to alleviate the suffering of the citizens by implementing good policies.

He also called on Nigerians to work hard and support the efforts of the government.

The Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, in his address at the carnival, said the momentum was mounting with the hoisting of Nigerian flag in New York on Oct 2.

He said the event had added further impetus and recognition to all who had been working hard to improve the society.

“We in the Consulate are happy with you and we will continue to do all we can to promote this parade.

“We want to thank the organiser who has stood steadfast in ensuring that this parade holds every year,” said the envoy.

Egopija, however, proposed that the time of the parade and carnival be changed to a period when the weather would be friendly.

“At this point, we may need to start to think if we should have the parade earlier or later because of the weather.

“I have discussed with the organiser, for some years, we have been having inclement weather because we cannot stop the rainy season.

“The organiser must begin to think of how to honour Nigerians and allow full participation at the parade and carnival,” he said.

Earlier at the flag raising event, New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, recalled his visit to Lagos, Nigeria, saying that New York was the Lagos of America.

He praised the culture of Nigerians and their contributions to their homeland and host country.

“But it’s more than just the celebratory spirit of the people of Nigeria, it is also the levels of academic, professionalism and hardworking.

“When you look at the doctors; when you look at the law enforcement, when you look at the military, when you look at all the leaders that are here, how innovative they are.

“You find in the most prestigious places of power in government and in all levels of professions, entrepreneurs, you find the people of Nigeria participating.

“I cannot thank you enough for what you have been doing and how you have contributed to this city,” he said.

NAN reports that the 63rd Independence Day Anniversary activities in New York, which started on Oct. 2 with flag raising ended with the Carnival on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian flag will be hoisted at Newark in New Jersey on Oct. 19.

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