ANAC SUCCESSFUL SESSION: PANELIST SAY THIRD TERM BAD FOR NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY
All Nigerian American Congress successfully completed its November, 2005 session with many highlight events. Among them was the election of its President which was contested by Hon. Del. Okey Mbonu(MD), Hon. Del.Lateef Kareem (IL), Hon. Del. Stanley Onye (MD). Mr Okey Mbonu the Maryland attorney and present Commissioner for Housing in Prince Georges County, Maryland defeated the two other candidates in a well campaigned events, coming a close second was Dr. Lateef Kareem, the Chicago based physician.
Ms. Temitope Ajayi the honorable delegate from San Fransisco California, beat out the other delegates for Vice President while, Honorable Sam Agbebi (Del. MD)and Hon. Bright Aregs (Del. California), both won for the House Whip. Fourteen House delegates were elected to the Upper house according to the constitution, to include Abdul Lateef Kareem (Del. IL), Prof. Martin Okafor (Del. Ga), Colin Atobajeun (Del. TX), Princess Igwebuike (Del. MD), Akeem Bello (Del. NC), all five for a five year term. And Dr. Peter Agho the New york based physician (Del. NY) and David Ogunnaike (Del. Ca) for the three year term. Seven other were elected for the two year terms, they included Eric Ula-lisa (Del. WI), Chief Ola Aina (Del. CT), Samuel Isokpunwu (Del.TX), Paul Oranika (Del.Ga), Paul Ikhimien (Del.IN), Stanley Onye (Del. MD), Robert Igbinovia (Del. NJ).
The occasion was well attended with United States Congressman for the 10th district of New Jersey, Donald Payne, keynote to the event, the delegates and participants engaged the representative of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Minister Felix Pwol who tried his best to answer the loads of question on issues ranging from the anti-corruption program of the Nigerian administration to development programs in Nigeria.
The program was most productive with the United States delegation members who included ex-United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Howard Jeter, Former Asst. Secretary for State (Africa) Herman Cohen under the second Bush administration with Colin Powell, Randy Echols an expert from a local Washington based think tank. The group was supported by a visiting scholar Sokoto Mohammed and prof. Adesanya, a Nigerian based political think tank group member, who basically gave updates on Nigeria, with Prof. Adesanya lamenting the poor state of labor wages and lack of a national attempt to pay adequate wages for Nigerian citizens. Sokoto Mohammed concentrated on giving updates on the different progress made in Nigeria in recent months, but draw applause when he listed present anti-corruption cases as being prosecuted by the Nigerian government recently.
Nigerian Minister for Finance Ngozi Iweala, and a host of other Nigerian administrative officials were invited including the President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, who sent a personal representative and sent a letter to specify his representative. The President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, was also honored by being presented with the first All Nigerian American Congress Award for his anti-corruption and successful economic programs. Ms Iweala, it was gathered though recently in the USA, was unable to make the event, which was well attended by numerous business groups who had expressed interest in Nigerian investment.
Congressman Payne and Howard Jeter both stressed the need for the anti-corruption campaign of President Obasanjo to be structured to continue for the long term and comprehensively. They also stressed the need for the Nigerian/American economic programs to particularly pay much attention to sectors in the United States where there are natural affiliations, then to continue with the conventional approach in other areas of American working partnerships, as already existing with the oil sector of the United States and Nigerian economy respectively.
The focus of the evening was redirected when questions were raised on a possible third term for the present administration. The American delegation clearly stated that in their wisdom it would be a disaster for the Nigerian administration to consider or even entertain such, because much respect and progress has been made on Nigerian democracy by the present administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo; and that any attempt to introduce a third term, they surmise, would meet serious opposition from within Nigerian and would not be welcomed by the international community. Ambassador Howard Jeter however stressed that being cognizant of President Obasanjo’s integrity in the International Community and there being no such statement coming out of Aso rock, hence entertaining such questions at this time are mere speculations. He said that it is important that Nigeria respects its constitution, a lot has been gained by this present administration for the past eight years, the economic gains, the effective position of women in the administration, the fight against corruption, advance in the democratic process, all of these have brought tremendous respect in the international community, especially for President Olusegun Obsanjo and that such progress is growing in confidence. Nigeria would be wise to stay the course and not draw back to the dark ages of Nigerian politics disrespecting its constitution and democracy.
Asked about where Nigeria should be today, Ambassador Herman Cohen, an expert on African affairs, recalled the years not too long ago when Nigeria was at par with South Korea, Malaysia and other far east nations, that were developing at the same pace with Nigeria in the sixties. He said, today the distance has been greatly widened, and Nigeria must get back on track. As Nigeria goes, so does Africa, remarked the Honorable International Statesman. There is real opportunity here, with the development we see, for the first time in decades, there is not much apprehension over investments in Nigeria and the political situation, it is important that the flame of democracy, anti-corruption and economic development continue without falling back again.
The congress was rounded up with a dinner and a Gala Night, which presented the live music of Shamita El Diego Soukous music Icon and the night extravaganza. The All Nigerian American Congress has resolved to, hire an Executive Director who will continue the administrative lobby here in the United States from Washington, DC on behalf of the estimated Two million Nig
erians in North America and also send a delegation to Nigeria and open its Abuja office in early 2006. “We can not look back” stressed its newly elected President Okey Mbonu and Chairman of the Upper House of Trustees Dan Edokpolo Austin M.D, President and CEO of Cignet Health Corp., a Washington DC based health Corporation with office in Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria. “We have begun this good work, and the next step is to make our programs known to the Nigerian government and lobby on behalf of Nigerians in North America. To do this effectively, we must raise awareness in our communities and make our agenda known both here and in Nigeria.”