Good Evening Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the executive board of the United Nigeria Association of Tulsa, I would like to welcome you all to our 20th Annual Cultural Celebration and Nigeria’s 55th Independence Anniversary.
Tonight is an exceptional evening; 55 years ago, Nigeria became an independent nation; and 20 years ago, United Nigeria Association (UNAT) was born.
This organization was not built in a day. At 20, that means we’ve always had people to hold things together from inception. They had nurtured it time and time again until it is what it is today. If they had not done the nurturing, there will not have been UNAT today. These distinguished men of honor that made up the UNAT Hall of Presidents are: Mr. Clinton Obene, Mr. Tunde Jimoh, Sir Moses Wayer, Mr. Michael Nsien and Ogbuefi Oranudu Patrick Nwakoby. You handed the torch to me and I hope I did not disappoint you. To you, I say THANK YOU for the time you served in the leadership capacity and for your continued service to the organization.
We’re very grateful to the Mayor of Tulsa, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Jr. on the proclamation recognizing United Nigeria Association of Tulsa for our community efforts here in Tulsa. I would also use this opportunity to thank Mr. Mike Nsien for working very hard to actualize the Sister City arrangement between the City of Eket (Akwa Ibom State) in Nigeria and the City of Tulsa, United States. It is our prayer that this new relationship will be of immense benefit to both cities culturally, educationally and economically that will hopefully lead to more employment for the teaming youths in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole.
I would also like to thank our sister Organizations from neighboring cities and states as well as our African brothers and sisters from African countries, and the Caribbean for honoring our invitation. I urge you to continue to support and make positive impact in your various communities here and please do not forget those you left behind back home.
Looking back on the last 20years, there have been obstacles along the way, but we continued to overcome them and move forward as a community. Some of the UNAT accomplishments during this period include but not limited to the following:
Supported local civic and non-profit organizations like Magic Empire Boy's Scout and NPR; School supplies donation when Mounds Elementary School was burnt down; Financial donation to 911 victims (Fund raising during our Oct 2011 Cultural /Independence Celebration; Yearly bursary awards to two college-bound seniors at McClain High School here in Tulsa; Voice of Nigerians and Africans in general in the Tulsa Community; Assisted thru Mr. Mike Nsien and his Soccer Club, to rescue 3 abused young men from New York City by finding them host families in Tulsa.
UNAT has been involved in the annual Martin Luther King’s Parade; regular participants in the Biennial Kids' World International Festival organized by the Tulsa Global Alliance; Group Life Insurance Program for the members; Monthly Speaker’s Forum; Our Family Summer Picnic and the “Nigeria House” Project.
In 2012, we launched the “Nigeria House” Project for a proposed estimate of $750,000. The vision for the facility is to facilitate the teaching of Nigeria linguistics to our young Nigerian Americans; cater for any Nigerians in transition; house a library and museum of Nigeria Arts; it will be a Center for local and regional schools to visit and learn more of the cultures of Nigeria and Africa; and a permanent place for Nigerians in Tulsa and Oklahoma at Large to meet.
In the same 2012 during our 17th Annual Cultural Celebration, His Excellency, Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, the Consul-General of the Nigerian Consulate, Atlanta, Georgia, honored our invitation to attend the organization’s first ever Symposium as our Guest Speaker. We were grateful to him also for sending a 5-member staff to Tulsa to provide consular activities to the teaming Nigerian population in and around Tulsa area. I will tell you that we have started the discussion for a repeat of consular activities for next year, 2016.
Tulsa is one of the few cities in the country that have one organization that brings all Nigerians under one umbrella and we’re very proud of that. I will like to encourage each and every one of you here today to help in every little way you can towards achieving that goal. To the few Nigeria businesses here in Tulsa that have supported UNAT financially to ensure that this one event that brings every Nigerian together once a year is not interrupted; on behalf of myself and the United Nigeria Association of Tulsa, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To the UNAT members, an organization is only as strong as the time invested in it by the members. Let’s think of tomorrow for our children. Thank you for what you have done so far, and I encourage each of you to continue to contribute your time and resources immensely towards making our organization stronger and a continued success.
To Mr. Clinton Obene, I will first thank your wife, Mrs. Phyllis Obene; who is also a member of the UNAT Board, for tolerating all the hours you put in to make our website better and more especially the time you spent making sure we have the brochure for this event. You served this organization well when you were the Chairman and still continued; I say Thank you for all your effort.
To Sir Moses Wayer, you have demonstrated what it means to serve your people. You have rendered selfless service by working in all the offices in the UNAT portfolio; President, General Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasury. UNAT members say Thank You.
To my wife, Lolo Joy Ololo, I cannot thank you enough how much you have supported me through this four years as the Chairman of this great organization; that made it easier for me to invest the energy needed to lead. However; the most important role in all is the passion you have for the children; whom you took under your wings to work with them on Nigerian cultural dances. I know most of them cherished your effort and devotion; I pray you will still have time for them in your soon to be more crowded schedule.
Therefore, as I hand over the mantle of leadership to the next Chairman to move this organization forward; I wish him/her all the best and I pledge to remain committed to this organization as most of the past leaders have done. To UNAT, I will forever remain grateful for the opportunity you gave me and my wife to serve you.
Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria! Long Live the United States of America!!
Chief Larry Ololo, Chairman, United Nigeria Association of Tulsa; 2011-2015
(Akachi Ji Emere Oha)