13 October 2010
A conference organised by the Nigerian Students’ Society at Glasgow Caledonian University last week (October 8) brought together high-level politicians and officials – from both Nigeria and the UK – to celebrate the heritage and debate the future of the African nation, which has just passed the milestone of 50 years of independence.
GCU Nigerian Students’ Society President, Rex Idaminabo, had the idea for the conference, and invited the Honorable Braiye Ekiye, who is Special Adviser to His Excellency the President of Nigeria, and Mr. Sola Enikanolaiye Special Assistant to the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, to speak in Glasgow.
They were joined by Willie Bain MP, the UK’s Shadow Transport Minister, and Allan Stewart who is the city of Glasgow’s Deputy Lord Provost.
The theme of the conference was building a greater Nigeria and more than 50 Nigerian students at GCU, as well as Nigerians from neighbouring Glasgow institutions, attended.
The subject of Hon. Braiye Ekiye’s speech was the impact of statutory bodies on the development of Nigeria and delegates listened while he explained the differing roles of parastatals and statutory bodies to those of government ministeries. The Special Adviser also quoted from His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent golden jubilee speech, calling on all Nigerians to have “an all consuming collective passion for change.”
He said of the conference, “I congratulate Glasgow Caledonian University’s Nigerian students for their initiative in arranging this excellent conference and thank them for the opportunity to sit alongside esteemed colleagues to debate the future of our fatherland.
“Each of these students is an ambassador for our country and I commend them for the seriousness of their studies and commitment to social change. By studying abroad they are exposing themselves to international learning and commerce that will be extremely valuable to our government. I urge them to carry on their great work and look forward to their contribution to the effective development of Nigeria.”
The importance of building a social and entrepreneurial spirit in the country was also debated.
Glasgow Caledonian University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pamela Gillies, met Hon Braiye Ekiye at a VIP reception earlier in the day.
She said, “I warmly congratulate our Nigerian Students’ Society on their organisation of such an ambitious, thought-provoking conference which generated many innovative ideas on the theme of ‘building a greater Nigeria’.
“At GCU we educate our students to become successful and responsible global citizens. The young Nigerians studying with us today are building the high level skills and experience they need to play their part in the next exciting phase of Nigeria’s development.”
Willie Bain MP discussed shared interests between the UK and Nigeria and encouraged full electoral democracy to ensure ever more international recognition and legitimacy for the county’s activities and development.
Mr. Enikanolaiye spoke passionately of Nigeria’s wealth of resources. He also announced that the High Commission plans to introduce new procedures that will allow Nigerians living in Scotland to obtain official documents without the need to travel to London.
Rex Idaminabo, who has been studying for a Master’s in International Contracting Law at GCU for the past year concluded, “My aim as President of the Students’ Society has been to bring Nigerians together to build a better future for our country. The conference has certainly given us the grounding to be able to do that.”
Nigerian students are the second largest international student group at Glasgow Caledonian University, with more than 250 Nigerians currently studying at the university.