Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Nigerian Professionals in U.S. Convention

by Dr. A. B. Assensoh

Nigerians at home and abroad are debating various national issues in a patriotic effort to assist in finding solutions to some of the burning problems facing their country. Some of such debates have often been based on policy issues, including the recent Official decisions to appoint a committee to seek views on whether or not Nigeria should accept the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stipulations for a loan, whether or not the Naira should be devalued and, in newspaper columns, whether or not civilian rule should be restored. Dr. A. B. Assensoh of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, recently travelled to Washington D.C. to attend the annual convention of the Organization of Nigerian professionals. In the following report, he discusses the convention and some of the scholarly papers presented on Nigerian issues.
On Saturday, November 30, 1985, the Organization of Nigerian Professionals in the United States held its second annual convention in Washington D.C. The programme for the convention included a business meeting and an elaborate banquet at which a keynote speaker, invited scholars and the president of the organization deliberated on various issues confronting Nigeria.

His Excellency Mr. Ignatius C. Olisemeka, the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, gave the convention's keynote speech. In it, he spelt out the reasons which prompted him to accept the invitation to address the organization, which serves as the clearing house for the unification and storing of the expertise of Nigerian professionals scattered throughout the United States.

The envoy told his audience: "When I accepted your invitation, it was with the full consciousness and awareness of the important role which you, as highly responsible Nigerians, distinguished in your respective professions in the United States, can play as catalysts and indeed, as innovative to development in Nigeria."

He went on: "there is yet another reason why I irresistibly felt the urge to address you personally. I found the objectives of your organisation most noteworthy, and so also the positive attitude which you have adopted towards national issues. It is an attitude which, I believe, is borne of genuine patriotic concern, and informed by a burning desire to find a way toward this and the next century. To be of any value, your deliberations at this convention should therefore be seen as complementing the current and similar efforts being made by your compatriots and others in Nigeria."

Mr. Olisemeka earned the applause of the audience when he implored Nigerians to stop looking upon a government of the day as an impersonal entity, adding that all Nigerians must consider themselves an integral part of the government. He emphasized that by considering themselves as part of the government, Nigerians will be in a unique position to contribute their individual quota to the development of their nation.

Dr. I. C. A. Okpalobi, a Nigerian medical practitioner in New Orleans, also addressed the convention in his capacity as the national president of the organization. He called on his fellow Nigerians to unite for success because in unity, one can find strength, adding that several other nationalities, including Lebanese and Indians, have often teamed up for success and the commonweal.

"If the Indians and the Lebanese have respectively teamed up for success, we, as Nigerians, can unite and do the same," Dr. Okpalobi stated.

As part of the varied events for the convention, Mr. Gibson C. Chigbu, a prominent Nigerian architect in New Orleans and the national public relations officer of the organisation, introduced the officers for the 1985-1986 fiscal year. They are: Dr. I. C. A. Okpalobi, national president; Professor David Muruako, the national secretary; Mr. Chuka Okpalobi, a New Orleans-based accountant, as national treasurer; Professor Richard S. Igwike, the president of New Orleans chapter of the organisation; and Dr. Chukuemeka Nzeribe, as the Washington chapter president.

Scholarly Discussions

Dr. Eboh C. Ezeani, a Professor of Econ- omics at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington D.C., presented a scholarly paper on the merits and demerits of the devaluation of the Naira at the convention. In his opinion, a devaluation would not be in the interest of the Nigerian economy at this moment.

In another scholarly discussion, Dr. Akpan, a Washington DC-based Nigerian lawyer and professor at Howard University, brought home to the audience the necessity for preserving professional ethics. In his view, each profession should always adhere to its ethics for the common good.

talking drums 1985-12-23-30 looking back at 1985