By Chief Charles O. Okereke

It was a scene least expected of a Nigerian official institution. It was a reality that was hard to conceptualize, a rare display of commitment to service and stewardship by officials of the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York. . It was Saturday, April 28, the time 11.45 am, the clouds clear and the temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit; chilly but a fairly good weather for a cold region like Wisconsin. Air of hospitality, sigh of relief and hope graced with warmth, the weather of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. on that day. The officials of the Consulate General of Nigeria, New York on this day visited Milwaukee to render consular services to the Nigerian Community. This initiative not only brought hope to Nigerians, it also brought together many of our compatriots who have not been seen at public gatherings for a fairly long period.

Events unfolded like a miracle, the Consul-General in company of two of his officers were on hand to exchange ideas with Nigerians in Milwaukee and its environ as well as render selfless services. In his address, the Consul-General informed the gathering that the Mission was embarking on an aggressive registration exercise of Nigerians, Nigerian businesses and associations within its operational zone which includes Wisconsin. This initiative is in conformity with the efforts of the Federal Government to link-up with its citizens in the Diaspora, with the view to ensuring their maximum contribution to national development. Ultimately, the Consul General noted, identification cards would be issued to duly registered Nigerians and may be used to actualize “our dream of active participation in electoral processes.”

In addition to the registration of Nigerians, the Community was also informed that a legal aid desk with appropriate staff complement had been created by the Consulate General to give necessary assistance to Nigerians that may require such service in due course. It was stressed that organization and cooperation were the key elements to the successes of the projects. Consequently, the Consul-General called for volunteer efforts from the Nigerian Community for the projects.

While the initiatives were generally applauded, some Nigerians present at the reception who volunteered comments could not but agreed that these initiatives of the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York were novel and indeed reassuring that the hope of a better Nigeria was realizable.

At 1.45 pm, the stage was set for the discharge of requisite consular services such as passport renewals, child endorsement etc. by two friendly and dedicated consuls, who diligently worked till 6.00 pm and returned next day on Sunday to conclude the exercise.

With this development, there is no gainsaying that a New Nigeria is on the launch pad across nations and oceans, resonating from a Consulate General with a notable population of Nigerian talents to nurture the nascent Nigerian democracy and industrialization. This is a mission by a foresighted Nigerian foreign Mission which can be replicated worldwide for the transformation of Nigeria and repositioning it for a more challenging role in the comity of nations in the 21st century.

It is the aspiration of most Nigerians who have had opportunities to meet with this team of officers at the Consulate General of Nigerian in New York at this point in time that they remain in place long enough for these noble projects they have initiated to be well nurtured and adopted by other Nigerian Missions worldwide.

*Chief Charles O. Okereke is a prolific writer and news contributor to several online publications, composer of God Bless Africa(http://www.africamasterweb.com/godblessaflyrics.html  ) – an African Union award winning anthen.

The Consulate General is scheduled to make presentations during the Annual Chicago IgboFest coming up in July 28,2007.

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