By Ayanroke Ojo.
Nigeria Dialogue is an organisation put together by a group of Nigerians aiming to proffer input into the economic, infrastructural and social development of Nigeria; and aim to do this by working with USAID, Amnesty International and other NGO’s to ensure free and fair elections come 2015.
The Gala Night event was the first of many events planned to take place across 5 major cities; Nigeria Dialogue welcomed their guests to the Gala Night at the Plaisterer’s Hall in London, on Saturday the 18th of January 2014.
Guests were welcomed by a short speech by Bayo Sowunmi and Wale Gates the MC for the night who led the Nigerian National Anthem; Mr Bankole Eniola the COO of Nigeria Dialogue, introduced Nigeria Dialogue and the reasoning behind its existence. “We are indeed a generation forged in the crucible of scarce resources but bound by a collective aspiration to build a nation with unlimited opportunities”. The event followed with guest speaker’s speeches and questions from the guests as well as entertainment and other agendas for the night.
The first guest speaker of the night Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila spoke about the role of the Nigerian electorate in building democracy, he focused mainly on the importance of getting involved and also getting familiar with our representatives. He made reference to a very popular quote by John F. Kennedy “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. He used the quote to lay emphasis on the importance of getting involved. He also touched on important topics like voting and political involvement “I believe political involvement is the most important kind of involvement because it is from the political arrangement that the socio-economy and policies and potentials of a nation evolves”.
Senator Babajide Omowoware, spoke about development and national planning focusing on the challenges and prospects. He spoke about vision 20/20/20 and the challenges faced so far, he mentioned the brain drain as a major setback, with many Nigerian’s leaving the country to study and live elsewhere there becomes a gap in society, also about the agricultural sector; although farming is rampant, about 90% of the rice consumed in Nigeria till date is imported. He concluded his speech with some advice about leadership in the country. “There is a leadership gap, people should participate in voting during elections, make your votes count, and we must keep putting pressure on the government to reduce corruption”.
The event continued with a clip put together by Nigeria Dialogue telling stories of some Nigerian children and people facing different life obstacles, which was followed by a speech from Mr. Bankole Eniola who spoke about his relationship with those people and how they grew up together and also the fact that many Nigerian children are also at a disadvantage, and the need for change and a call to action. “Together we can give a voice to the oppressed, together we can create the lives we want for our children and grandchildren, we can light up Nigeria, create new jobs and build new industries, the journey might take a lifetime but tonight we are going to act on it”. Mr. Sam Onibanjo then joined him to raise funds for the work Nigeria Dialogue plans on establishing, which was successful.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa spoke about the role of Nigerians in the diaspora. She spoke about the work that they have done in the committee of diaspora affairs and the effect of the people in the diaspora on Nigeria, she also touched the subject of moving back to Nigeria and the challenges that might take place because of social differences. She also introduced the new magazine The Diasporan Wazobia, which was created to enlighten Nigerians of the work of other Diasporans and giving information on options for people looking into moving back to Nigeria.
The event continued with a raffle draw, and casino then came to an end with a thank you and appreciation speech from Mr. Bankole Eniola on behalf of the whole Nigeria Dialogue team.