Fellow Nigerians, Ladies, and Gentlemen, on behalf of the Executive Committee, Standing and Ad Hoc Committees, and the Membership of Nigerian Community in Greater Cleveland (NCGC), I welcome all of you to our 58th Nigerian Independence Anniversary Celebration. Your organization has been making steady progress since last year when you elected this executive committee. The financial membership of the organization has nearly quadrupled since this administration took over. There are palpable enthusiasm and knowledge of the activities of NCGC among Nigerians that are NCGC and non-NCGC members in Northeast Ohio of United States of America.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Building Bridges of Partnerships and Community Engagement.” Your organization is actualizing this by her commitment to the philosophy and tenets of partnership and engagement with our host community by continuing with the organization’s annual health fair and award of scholarships to students in tertiary institutions through our 501 (C) 3 non-profit entity – National Charitable Fund (NCF), and collaboration with the Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center of Cleveland State University. Permit me to use this opportunity to thank the Director and Staff of the Howard A. Mims African American Cultural Center of Cleveland State University for allowing us to use their facility for the past 15 years as the venue of our monthly meeting on 3rd Sunday of every month. In the coming months, your organization will be engaging in more elaborate activities that will entail more partnership with the community, corporate organizations, and institutions in the Cleveland area.

Our immense appreciation goes to our sponsors, who every year like the proverbial ‘Oliver Twist’ we are always asking for more financial sponsorship. Thank you very much. Also, we cannot count our blessings without our institutionalized NCF’s annual scholarships sponsors like Amara Home Care (Mrs. Margaret Ogbuji – Owner/CEO), La Borincana Foods (Mr. Enrique Rick Muniz), and Ononenyi (Dr.) Emmanuel Okafor. And it is with gratitude and elation that we announce that Mr. Paul & Mrs. Oby Okocha have joined the team this year by instituting “Social Worker Scholarship.”   Thank you and May God replenish your resources.

One of the cardinal intentions of the current Executive Committee is to consistently look out for our elderly ones who can no longer come to our meetings or events regularly due to their age. It is with humility that I inform you that our Women’s Committee has been doing this with great dedication by scheduling their monthly meetings in the abode of our revered elderly ones. Also, great strides have been made in reaching out to other nationalities’ Diaspora organizations, as well as collaborating with our Nigerian parochial organizations. I want to assure every Nigerian that the radar of this executive is horned in on acquiring a place we can all call ‘Nigerian Center’. Your support is needed to actualize this.

On a very sad note, we lost one of us – Ms. Elizabeth Macs who was active with us by this time last year during our celebration. Liz, for those that are close to her, knows that she was a kind, outspoken, effervescent, and boisterous person. You and your organization (NCGC) were there for her and her family during her sickness and upon death. Thanks to our women’s committee members and Nigerians that have continued to look out for the two young adult children she left behind.   Also, the members of the organization sympathize and have in their prayers for some of us who lost Dear ones within the past 12-months.

At this point, on behalf of the Nigerian Community in Greater Cleveland, I congratulate the recipient of our prestigious organization – “Outstanding Community Engagement & Service Award” in the person of Mr. Prester Pickett.  Mr. Pickett over years have supported Nigerian and other African students, individuals, and organizations like ours by facilitating the breaks and benefits his workplace can provide for the success of the individual(s) and continuity of the organization.

I want to take an exception to give a shout out to all us in the Independence Committee who without this occasion could not hold. I am deeply indebted for the support and commitment of Mr. Paul Abiola; Dr. John Nworie; Mr. Lee Kareem; Lady Amaka Offodile; Dr. Demola Solaru; Ms. Elizabeth Okwudi; Chief John Anoliefo; Mr. Lazarus Oranugo; Alhaji Adeniyi Mogaji; and Prince Chuck Iyke Nnabuife. Finally, my heartfelt appreciation is to all members of your executive committee without whom we would not be witnessing the progress your organization is making and without whom I will not have the enthusiasm to continue striving to be your chief servant.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve.

Fellow Nigerians, Ladies, and Gentlemen please enjoy your evening, thank you again, and happy anniversary.

Long Live NCGC!      Long Live USA!!    Long Live Nigeria!!!

Nze (Prince) Charlie O. Chiaka Muruako – Dikenaechemba