Good evening! It is an exceeding pleasure to welcome all of you to Nigeria Day – honoring Nigerian 57-year Independence Anniversary and 35-year Anniversary of the Nigerian Foundation. Thank you all for coming! I thank the entire Executive of this Foundation for dedication and great work. I thank the Board for its dedication. I thank different Planning Committees that put this event together. I thank the entire membership of the Foundation. Your commitment, devotion and sacrifice are unparalleled. Indeed, my gratitude has no limit.
I speak this evening on the usefulness and efficacy of a strong, activist Nigerian group – representing Nigerians and Nigerian interests. I speak on this issue because it was my primary reason to accept the honor to serve Nigerians when approached by some members of the Foundation in October 2014, and again in March 2015. When I was elected on April 11, 2015, I saw it as a big honor to serve Nigerians to the best of my ability – bearing in mind the logic of collective wisdom and action. Accordingly, this present Administration of the Foundation put together some goals following the election in April 2015. Within 7 months of the same year (2015), this Foundation started to demonstrate that leadership is action - not a position:
1. We created a functional website for the Foundation. On our site, www.TheNigerian.Foundation, we are building Nigerian Business Directory – projecting the economic power of Nigerians in Houston. Simply send your own business information/services for publication/advertisement on our website - FREE. We have established Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund on the Foundation’s website to assist the victims of the Hurricane. To show your love, to add your widow’s might, kindly visit our website, www.TheNigerian.Foundation.
2. We established Nigerian American Young Adult Empowerment Partnership (NAYAEP). NAYAEP was formed to (a) recognize our young adults’ extraordinary achievements in both academia and commerce, (b) make positive decisions, (c) live healthy, successful lives, (d) build long-term character development and rewarding relationships, (e) establish strong social and economic ties and networks, and (f) build concrete leadership presence in our community. Here is its website, www.nayaep.org.
3. We started a petition to establish Nigerian Consulate in Houston, with assurance from Congresswoman Sheila Lee Jackson to help us see it happen. Here is that petition, www.thenigerian.foundation/Petition.html.
4. We executed a marvelous Nigeria Day on October 10, 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen, change is never easy but must be pursued, especially a positive one. Accordingly, some of the projects undertaken by the Foundation in 2015 have yet to be fully executed because of the setback we had last year. That said, I stand here to tell you, as some of you already know, that the present administration of the Nigerian Foundation has brought the CHANGE we all need: we now have a transparent, honest, dedicated Foundation. Our goal now is to bring Nigerians together within the Foundation for a better today and tomorrow. We must understand the logic of collective action and collective wisdom as other nationalities inhabiting this United States, e.g., the Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Philippines, etc. Even animals in the jungle understand this simple logic of collective action – hence, a pride of lions hunt together and eat together even though they might fight occasionally while eating their meal. By not working together, we will always fall behind as a group, and as a country. This simple logic of collective wisdom and action, well understood even by animals, should not take Solomon’s wisdom for any of us to understand.
As I always say, some of us are quite successful on a micro (individual) level. However, success at the micro level does not take a set of people very far. Success at the individual level usually dies with the death of such individual. Formidable, powerful groups and countries endure from generation to generation, and their robust activist role benefit their generations after generations. That is the case with the Jewish organizations in the United States. That is the case with the Asian organizations in the United States. THAT MUST BE THE CASE WITH US – TOO!
All told, the logic of collective action and collective wisdom is the ONLY KEY for societal growth. Let us come together for a common cause. Let us come together and discover within ourselves capable, hardworking and honest people who are stretching and searching for better solutions that will make our community a great success. We must work together as sisters in sisterhood, and stand together as brothers in brotherhood. Indeed, though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood and sisterhood we must stand.
I thank all of you for coming, and thank you for your support. May God bless all of you. May God bless Nigeria! May God bless the United States of America!
Always @ Your service,
Bedford N. Umez, PhD.
President, The Nigerian Foundation