By Isaac Aregbesola
Thousands of Nigerian and their friends have thronged the streets of New York City in the U.S. to celebrate Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary Parade and Festival Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the largest U.S. city was painted with green-white-green insignia as Nigerians from all walks of life gathered for the celebration.
The parade started on 2nd Avenue, 54th Street in Manhattan and ended at the Nigerian House on 44th Street, culminating in the Independence Day Festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, near the UN Headquarters.
The New York Police Department officers were on hand to provide security along the route.
The well decorated floats, filled to capacity by joyous people waving the Nigerian flags, the marching bands, the slit dancers, the cultural troupes and dignitaries made the occasion colourful.
The 27th annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade, known as the largest celebration of Nigerians in the diaspora, celebrates the very best of Nigeria’s cuisine, culture, music and people.
Many Nigerian leaders, other nationals and compatriots in the United States also joined in dancing to Nigerian music and savouring Nigerian cuisines
NAN reports that the annual celebration aims to positively promote, advance and enhance the cultural, civil, social and economic image of Nigerians in the U.S.
The festival also aims to inculcate in Nigerian youths knowledge of the country’s history, cultures, customs; traditions, values and religions.
Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Benaoyagha Okoyen, commended the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN), organisers of the annual event, for successfully organising the parade since 1991.
Okoyen paid tribute to Nigerians in the diaspora for their laudable contributions to their host country and to their homeland.
“Nigerians in the diaspora contribute positively to Nigeria’s economy and development of the United States of America far more than we can imagine.
“We have done well in various fields of human endeavour.
“We must, therefore, replace any negative perception or label on Nigerians through our positive actions and contributions to the American society.
“Nigeria’s flag is already flying in various communities in the United States of America in recognition of the contributions Nigerians have made.”
President of OAN, Mr Solomon Bakare while addressing thousands of Nigerians who thronged the annual festival, said the event had grown tremendously.
Bakare said that the parade had grown exponentially since it started, attracting many political leaders from New York City and dignitaries from Nigeria.
He said that the continued success of the celebration could not be divorced from uncommon creativity, prodigious talents and organisational acumen of Nigerian youths.
He said though the celebration had recorded great success since inception, additional support was needed from Nigerians in the U.S. to make it more vibrant.
Chairman of the Nigeria Independence Day Parade, Mr Olayinka Dansalami, thanked the sponsors of the programme for their continued support.
Similarly, President of the Nigerian Nurses Association of USA, Dr Godgive Okoli lauded the celebration.
According to him, Nigerian nurses are making a difference in their communities both in the U.S. and at home through Health Education, Health care and Medical missions.
For his part, an America clergy and politician, Rev. David Kayode called on Nigerian in the diaspora to be good ambassadors and project the image of the country positively wherever they found themselves.