Nigerians, Jews & Humanity's Common Good

by Paul I. Adujie

President Bush, Kofi Annan UN Secretary General, Angela Kertel Chancellor of Germany, all in the same hall assembled, for a common purpose, the service of humanity.

Dr. Ola Kassim is a physician, with a series of medical establishments in Canada, Engineer Jumoke Akin-Taylor and I, were invited by American Jewish Committee and Nigeria People’s Forum to participate in a) American Jewish Committee AJC Centennial celebrations (19906-2006) 100 hundred years of public service, doing public good through public service.

And Nigeria People’s Forum had invited the three of us to its Good Governance & Democracy in Nigeria Seminar/Conference. Several position papers were delivered by seasoned academicians and policy wonks, by Nigerians and Americans.

Dr. Kassim, an outstanding physician in Canada, operates medical clinics and laboratories in Canada, where he lives, he excused himself from his 15 hours a day schedule, in order to grace these events in Washington DC.

Dr. Kassim is the Chairperson of Nigerians in-Diaspora Organization, NIDO, in North America wing. Engineer Jumoke Akin-Taylor is your quintessential energizer bunny zealous patriot, with tireless energy anywhere and anytime Nigerians issues are at stake.

I have known Jumoke for several years now, and I have never known her to tire of fathoming ways, best ways to serve Nigeria selflessly. Her commitment to Nigeria defies my experience with people here in New York City, where people are liable to be all stressed out with the fast pace of life around here. New York City is a place where people are compelled to frequently engage in cost analyses of every action. What is it for me? Is a recurring question that is literarily on every lips; Jumoke has never disappointed me or anyone when it comes to what Nigeria deserves in terms of public service.

Engineer Jumoke Taylor will convince any diehard cynic, pessimist and despair merchant in-chief as to why Nigeria’s cause is ALWAYS a worthy cause whether in rain or sunshine or snowstorms and in humid summer afternoon!

She left her family and professional obligations for several days to serve Nigeria national interests attending AJC and NPF events we all shuttled from one hotel to the other, hotels where we stayed individually and severally, and hotels where the events were spread, seminar, gala, dinner and dance etc from Marriot, Residence Inn, Ritz Carlton to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at hectic pace, in taxis, on foot, sitting, standing, making speeches or listening to speeches or explaining Nigeria to everyone in the audience.

We explained Nigeria to the audience. We asked questions, answered some questions and expressed appreciation frequently. We were exhausted and spent, but we were delighted all the same, because it were all for our beloved country and homeland, Nigeria. These were volunteer efforts at great personal expenses of money, time and convenience but all worth it!

I plan to write more about the NPF and Professor Maurice Iwu, and particularly about Professor Iwu’s exuberance, enthusiasm, confidence and his extraordinary grasps of all Nigerian issues, elections and all.

I personally worried that there was a pervasive despair, pessimism, cynicism, fatalism. We will pray for Nigeria was the frequent refrain ad nauseam in mournful ominous tones by many. Wonderful ideas were proffered repeatedly, but with some aura of, these ideas, as good as they sound, would not work in Nigeria, would not be accepted in Nigeria, or the impression was given, that it is too late or futile to try anything in Nigeria. Too many spoke, as if Nigeria is beyond redemption somehow. Some guest speakers spoke as if Nigeria is irredeemably bad hopeless. Some guest speakers spoke with a sense of evil foreboding or some sort of harbinger of sinister qualities.

The two events occurred in Washington DC between May 4, and 5, 2006 concurrently.

NIDO were a part of two events in Washington DC, events organized by AJC and NPF

These events brought together peoples of various background, various races, religions and nationalities, but more specifically, Nigerians and Jews. These events invited my participations, even with conflicting schedules.

The closeness of the schedules was exemplified by the similarities in passions that overflowed on behalf of Nigerians and Jews. There emotions driven by patriotism and love of country, which made these events must see, must hear and must participate for me; Guest speakers were numerous persons with varied professions and personalities participating directly at both events.

These personalities ranged from the most socially liberal to the most conservative. Bush, Annan, Utomi, Iwu, Aluko, Babalola etc Professor Iwu of Independent Electoral Commission wowed everyone with his enthusiasm, his exuberance, his passion and zeal, all geared towards making Nigeria a marvel of the world. Professor Iwu’s passions were the exact opposite, when contrasted against the pervasive despair, cynicism and pessimism that characterized the tones and deliveries of public lectures by most guest speakers. Speakers were professionals who have excelled in their various fields of expertise and the bulk of these public intellectuals were drawn from the academe.

The presentations were vibrant and very vigorous. The interactive sessions that followed these presentations by NPF guest speakers, were equally very lively and informative.

Speaker after speaker made meaningful contributions through their analyses of the challenges of the past and what future challenges may be. Solutions were proffered aplenty. But there were the pervasive and all permeating sense hopelessness, as if Nigeria was some sorts of vehicle without brakes speeding on a slope toward a cliff and bottomless pit etc.

My impressions were that the pessimists outnumbered those with positive expectations.

On the whole, the AJC, NIDO and NPF events were wonderful experiences in the pursuit of common good for Nigeria. These were lessons in human refinements of the best kind. These were how to, for anyone, particularly, for Nigerians interested in selfless service.

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