By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, March 6, 2022
Ms. Tolulope Lewis-Tamoka, President of UN Staff Recreation Club (UNSRC) Nigeria Association, has acknowledged the vision and commitment of Mr. Obi Emekekwue, former North America Bureau Chief of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) for establishing the association.
Lewis-Tamoka acknowledged Emekekwue at a recent hybrid Inaugural Excellence Awards ceremony at Nigeria House in New York while speaking on the activities and initiatives of the UNSRC in 2021.
The ceremony was attended by Amb. Lot Egopija, Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, and some officials of the Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York.
According to her, UNSRC Nigeria Association which started 10 years ago has grown to have members that cover the breadth and length of the UN.
“We are very glad that Emekekwue started this association and with support of the members and executive committee, we have kept it on for 10 years.
“We pray that it will continue to get stronger in the coming years.’’
Lewis-Tamoka said the association has provided the platform for members to come together in their respective areas of work in the UN.
“Sometimes, we don’t get to see each other, but by the virtue of having this association, we get to know Nigerians working across various fields of the UN.
“So, it is a fantastic opportunity for us to know how diverse and rich the expertise and the professionalism of Nigerians across the UN on different issues.
“On issues of peace and security, on gender, we have colleagues working in the secretariat and some working in programmes.”
“In fact, we cover the breadth and length of the UN and having an association to know who is doing what in the UN has been an excellent opportunity for us,’’ she said.
On the activities of the association in 2021, Lewis-Tamoka said the executives took the advantage of the COVID-19 to engage in some virtual activities with its members.
The President said she kicked off her tenure with a virtual meeting with the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed on April 23, 2021.
Lewis-Tamoka specifically recognised Mohammed for her fantastic work in the UN and her support to the organisation.
“We respect and appreciate her hard work in UN and Nigeria. We are happy that she leads as the most senior member of this association in the UN,’’ she said.
The president said the association also met with Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative (PR) to the UN in June 2021.
“The meeting with the PR also opened the doors for us to meet and engage with the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York. Amb Lot Egopija.
“We had the opportunity to interact with Egopija and his team, shared some of our concerns and frustrations on consular services and he promised us that all of these would be handled in due course.
“We can attest to the fact today, that we have seen tremendous change in the consular services of New York, and we know, you are in front and center of those changes.
“We thank you for that. We also receive regular communication about the services of the Consulate,’’ she said.
In addition, she said that the association had Independence Day Virtual Celebration on Oct 1. 2021, among others.
In addition, Lewis-Tamoka said the executives were able to embark on some initiatives, starting from creating mailing list and database for its members.
“Recongising some of the challenges that new staff face when they come to New York, we developed Welcome Package for Newly Deployed New York Staff.”
“Also, we have initiated and sent communications to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Permanent Mission for Tax Identification Number, to support us and issue a Tax identification number.”
“We also initiated excellence awards for deserving esteemed members of the Nigeria community, which we are also witnessing today,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Mr Larry Jituboh, a member of the association, commended Egopija for operating open-door policy, saying, “I’m happy that the President mentioned the open-door policy of the Consul General, which I have personally experienced.”
“Things have really changed in the Consulate. Even our coordination with the mission is waxing stronger,’’ he said.
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the association gave awards to three distinguished Nigerians for their contributions to UNSRC and the Nigerian community in New York.
Emekekwue was honoured for initiating the establishment of the UNSRC Nigeria Association and spearheaded its registration at the Nigeria House in New York.
UNSRC also honoured Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Nigeria Permanent Representative to the UN for his contributions to the association and Mrs. Olajobi Makinwa, first female President of the UNSRC.
NAN also reports that some members of the association were recognised for their commitment to the association, namely Mr. Smart Olasehinde, Ms. Maria Dada, Mr. Babajide Yoloye, among others.