Nigerian diplomacy in Britain deserves applauding
As 2020 marks 60 years of Nigeria’s Independence from Britain, an integral part of the discussion about the future relationship of Africa’s wealthiest economy with its former colonial master must take note of the ever-evolving diplomatic ties between the two great nations.
According to statistics published by the UK’s ONS (Office for National Statistics) for the period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, there were an estimated 205,000 people who were born in Nigeria living in the UK. Those of us who live in Nigeria’s 37th State would ask you to multiply that figure by ten if you want to get a more accurate picture.
Britain has undeniably adopted much of Nigeria’s illustrious culture. Famous British Nigerians include Hollywood Star John Boyega, TV Gold Richard Ayoade and Pentecostal Preacher Matthew Ashimolowo.
Our famed restaurants like Ikoyi and Enish are no longer patronised solely by Nigerians and Pan Africans. Before announcing his decision to run for Mayor of London as an Independent Candidate in 2019, I was at a dinner in 805 on Old Kent Road with the Conservative Party’s Former Secretary of State for International Development – Rory Stewart. He ate grilled Fish and Plantain and was snapped drinking a Gulder.
Our community has quite rightly been embraced by the British establishment and Nigerian Diplomats residing in Britain have proved that we deserve these highly regarded pleasantries.
The Commonwealth Countries League (CCL) a voluntary Pan-Commonwealth civil society organisation is a case in point. Nigeria – under the representation of H.E. Mrs Modupe Oguntade, (Wife of the outgoing Nigeria Ambassador to Britain H.E. Mr George Adesola Oguntade) has been described as an asset by Mr Matthew Odu, a Trustee and Treasurer at the CCL.
Founded in 1925 The CCL promotes the education of girls and young women and links together women’s organisations throughout the Commonwealth. In particular, it raises money for its associated charity, the Commonwealth Girls Education Fund.
Modupe Oguntade has been successful in combining her influential network and flair for hosting notable members of society with raising huge sums of money for the CCL. Donations that dwarf all other Commonwealth members.
“Nigeria is a very important member of the league. One of our biggest partners,” says Odu. Adding; “I would describe her as a patriot. She loves Nigeria and projects the country in a good light to all other Commonwealth Members. In a short space of time, the energy she has brought was contagious and she has the drive to do things for a charitable purpose. She is a woman of substance.”
H.E. Mr and Mrs Oguntade will be saying good-bye to Britain just days before the annual Commonwealth Fair is due to take place in November. This year’s event will be noticeably different due to Covid-19 social distancing rules and the absence of Mrs Oguntade’s vibrant display. The character of the Wife of the Nigerian Ambassador has encapsulated the effervescent warmth of our much-beloved nation in ways that may be frowned upon within the diaspora but is adored amongst those within Britain’s commonwealth community.
Olayinka is a British-Nigerian journalist working in London.