Legacy Initiative organization: Bridging the cultural divide to achieve political and cultural unity.
By Chinyere Obinna Onwuchekwa
Nigerians in the diaspora may soon breathe a collective sigh of relief, as the formidable wall of bureaucracy, which seemed for years, to separate the Nigerian community from the Nigerian mission to the United States, is about to be transformed into a welcome mat. For years, the major complaint of most Nigerians in the diaspora seemed to be the apparent difficulties that they encountered when trying to access needed services from the consular office that was set up to assist them, and often expressed frustration at finding themselves entangled in a maze of red tape and revolving doors that often led to lost time at work and or expensive hotel bills for the ones that came from out of town. The sentiments were always negative, and Nigerians viewed their Consular office as the brick wall behind the glass building.
This may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a collaborative effort between that office and the executive members of Legacy Initiative International Advocacy, an organization that was formed to bridge the gap that divides different factions of the Nigerian community and the Nigerian government. Although Legacy is not a political organization, it is efficiently streamlined to enhance the political process by uniting the stakeholders in the Nigerian political system through dialogue, interfaith prayer meetings and fostering understanding and unity between the leaders of the two principal faith groups in Nigeria.
On Tuesday the 8th of January 2019, the New York City office of the Nigerian Mission to the United States hosted a delegation of the Legacy Initiative International members in a lively session that facilitated exchange of ideas between the two bodies. The reception was chaired by the Consulate General of the Nigerian Mission to the US in NYC, Mr. Ben Okoyen and several staff members of the Nigerian consular office.
During the session, the leader of the Legacy Initiative International Dr. Ifem Emmanuel Orji eloquently outlined the goals, the vision and the mission of the organization and pledged the commitment of the organization to work with the consular office to build a stronger relationship between them and the Nigerian community in diaspora that they served. He outlined the strides that the organization had already made in fostering a stronger relationship between the leaders of the Nigerian religious factions and emphasized the willingness of the organization to help the Nigerian Mission to the United States strengthen their ties to the Nigerian community.
Dr. Orji emphasized the need to empower the Nigerians in the diaspora, who have been a viable contributor to the growth of the Nigerian economy through their monetary disbursements, exchange of ideas and medical outreaches to Nigeria by making them a part of the political process through diaspora voting to give them a voice in Nigerian presidential elections. In his response, the Nigerian consul to the United States, Mr. stated that such a thing can be achieved but is hampered by the lack of a reliable database of Nigerians who reside in the United states. Dr. Orji and the delegation emphasized that a database of Nigerians can be easily achieved through grassroots and outreach efforts, community bulletins, reaching out to Nigerian businesses and organizations, churches and mosques and word of mouth and that the important. He pledged the willingness of his organization to assist the Nigerian Mission to the United States achieve the goal of creating a database of Nigerians, and that the important thing was to start. He reiterated the willingness of his organization to deploy his members to help the consulate office achieve this mission.
The meeting ended on a positive note, with Mr. Okoyen emphasizing his approval of the positive and encouraging tone of the organization, which he stated was head and shoulders above other organizations that he had encountered. He also pledged his willingness to assist the organization to reach their goals.
Other issues that were addressed included the need to make the Mission to the United states more accessible and user-friendly to the Nigerians in diaspora that they serve. The members of the delegation did observe that in recent times, the Nigerian mission has seemed to improve tremendously and commended Mr. Okoyen and his staff on the improved services and accessibility which was echoed by most in the room. The group pledged to make follow up visits to consular office to put into motion the plans that were made at this session. The visit concluded with a tour of the Consular building, provided by the Consulate General Mr. Okoyen.