New York City Mayor, Mr Eric Adams, on Saturday evening joined Nigerians from all walks of life to celebrate the 62nd independence anniversary of their homeland.
Adams, in his speech at the Independence Day Carnival, paid glowing tribute to Nigerians for their resilience and unique social and cultural life.
He recalled with nostalgia, his visit to Africa but that his experience in Lagos stood out, declaring that no city throws a party like Lagos.
“I remember landing in Lagos. I remember landing on a Monday and not sleeping again until Sunday,” he said.
“No one throws a party like Lagos in Nigeria. No one knows how to celebrate life, like Nigeria.
“And right here in New York, your rich culture and contribution to the city is unbelievable,” Adams stressed.
The mayor thanked Nigerians for their support when he was running to become the mayor of the City of New York.
“I reached out to the youth league of this organisation and others, you were 100 per cent saying we’re going to be with our brother, our fellow African so that he can become the mayor of the city of New York.
“So don’t let anyone deny you of the history. I am very clear. Although I live in America. I am African because I’ll always be African.
Adam also recalled the pain of slave trade and declared that Africans built America to become the greatest country on earth.
“America owes Africa so much. America is what it is because of the people of Africa that were ripped from their soil years ago to come here.
“So, all those years we have been separated, we are here today to say we will be united forever and never ripped apart from each other again,” he said.
The Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Uzoma Emenike, in her remarks, thanked Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN) and partners for their tireless efforts organising the event for over 30 years.
“That you’re also sustaining and improving it over the years despite the challenges, is a testament of the Nigerian DNA of resilience and the love Nigerians in diaspora have for their country.
“It is also the desire to maintain the national identity and culture even in a faraway land; the tenacity and generosity of Nigerians in diaspora to recreate the Nigerian culture in their place of temporary residence.”
Emenike noted that Nigeria was the only African country which nationality is celebrated with the temporary closure of a busy strategic road as the Second Avenue in Midtown.
“This is another testament to Nigeria’s high starting global and high regard leading countries across the world to the United States,” she said.
The Nigerian envoy commended Nigerians in the United States for their spirit of excellence saying, “indeed, you all are the real ambassador”.
According to her, Nigerians migrate to the United States and other countries primarily to seek educational and economic opportunities.
“It is well documented that Nigerian immigrants here in the United States excel in their various chosen fields,” she said.
Emenike said estimated three million Nigerians were resident in the United States and pleaded with first generation Nigerian immigrants to ensure that the later generation of Nigerians outside the shores of Nigeria are not lost.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, represented by the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, lauded Nigerians in the diaspora for making the country proud.
Onyeama thanked New York City for its generosity to Nigerians and urged Nigerians to continue to enrich the cultural diversity of the City and the United States.
He commended the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigeria (OAN) for their selfless service to the homeland through organising the parade for over three decades and for connecting the youth back to their Nigerian heritage.
The minister also commended the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija for efforts of the Consulate in improving services to Nigerians.
In his remarks, Egopija noted that the Nigeria Independence Day Parade and Carnival has gained widespread acceptance among Nigerians from all walks of life.
“It is worthy of note that what started as a struggle to challenge negative stereotypes about our dear country and compatriots has since gained widespread acceptance and grown to become the largest gathering of Nigerians abroad.
“Consulate wishes to encourage Nigerians in all fields of endeavour to continue to distinguish themselves and be law-abiding.
“While exceling in our communities, let us take pride in educating our chidren and making them appreciate their rich Nigerian heritage.
“Consulate will not relent in efforts to improve services to all stakehoders within our jurisdiction,” Egopija said.
Timi Dakolo and Street Hop singer, Bright Goya popularly known as Goya Menor; Temilayo Abodurin, a 12-year old Saxophonist, among other artists, performed at the independence Day carnival.