Some elected New York officials at the weekend lauded the contributions of the Nigerian community to the development of the city.
They spoke during a farewell party organised by the Nigerian American Public Affairs Committee (NAPAC) in honour of the outgoing Consul-General of Nigeria, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen.
Okoyen is proceeding to Cuba as Nigeria’s Ambassador with concurrent accreditation to The Bahamas, Honduras and Nicaragua
In her remarks at the virtual event, the President of Manhattan Borough, Ms Gale Brewer, said that the Nigerian community was a significant part of New York.
Brewer specifically acknowledged the impact of Okoyen in the diplomatic circle, describing him as a symbol of excellence for which Nigerians were known.
New York State senator, Mr Robert Jackson, said Okoyen’s appointment as an ambassador was a promotion well deserved.
“I looked at your background in education and training and I have no doubt that you are going to be a positive aspect of the diplomatic community in the Caribbean.
“I know you will work hard in your new assignment and make us all proud,” said Jackson, a close friend of the Nigerian community.
Mr Alfred Taylor, a member of the New York State Assembly, commended the outgoing envoy for giving Nigeria great visibility in New York, and wished him well.
Other guests, who delivered comments at the occasion, including the Consul-General of Algeria in New York, Mr Brahim Chennouf, lauded Okoyen’s exemplary leadership and professionalism.
“Amb. Okoyen worked hard during his term as Consul-General of Nigeria and all colleagues recognised his personal involvement and leadership within the African Group.
“I am glad his country awarded him the promotion he deserves,” Chennouf said in a Zoom chat message.
Earlier, the President of NAPAC, Dr Nelson Aluya, said the event was part of efforts to celebrate outstanding Nigerians in the U.S.
“It’s time we begin to identify those among us who are champions. We should celebrate them and highlight the things they do to serve as a template for those coming behind.
“We gather here because of an individual who has exemplified what it is to be not just an ambassador, but also a leader.
“Okoyen has demonstrated not just the capacity to lead but also the trust to lead,” Aluya said, highlighting his achievements.
Responding, the envoy thanked members of the Nigerian community for their support, especially during the evacuation of Nigerians stranded in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okoyen also expressed gratitude to the host authorities and elected officials present, for their guidance and support.
“Let me assure everyone that I will continue to work hard. If there are areas you think I have not done well, please feel free to advise me so that I can improve.
“This game is a learning process. Nobody knows it all. That is why I will never forget my team here in New York.
“I will continue to make Nigeria and Nigerians my priority wherever I am and in whatsoever I do,” he said.