Mayor of Southwark honours Ambassador Isola OFR on Nigeria's 2023 Independence Day in London
By Adetokunbo FAKEYE
London - On Sunday, October 1st, 2023, His Worshipful, The Mayor of the London Borough of Southwark, Councillor Michael Situ organised an evening to celebrate Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary at the Council Headquarters, Tooley Street, London.
From left: Florence Eshalomi MP representing Vauxhall London, His Worshipful, The Mayor of Southwark Council, Cllr. Michael Situ, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola OFR with spouse, Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola, Felicia Boshorin, (CEO) of Spring Community Hub, Hon. Ayo Akinfe Chairman, CANUK and Hon. Niyi Zaccheus Chairman of NIDO.
The event tagged, "Integration and the Nigerian Perspective", which was a reflection on the image of Nigeria and roles of Nigerians in today’s British Society had different speakers to highlight the challenges of Nigerians in Britain.
Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola with spouse, Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola and His Worshipful, The Mayor of Southwark Council, Cllr. Michael Situ.
Mayor Situ used the occasion to appreciate the role of His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, High Commissioner of Nigeria to the UK in improving the image of Nigeria and honoured him with an award for his outstanding services during his tour of duty.
L-R: Hon. Ayo Akinfe present Chair (2021 – Date), CANUK, Dr. Mark Abani Chair, CANUK (2005 – 2011), Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola OFR with wife Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola, Otunba Bimbo Folayan (2011 – 2015) and Dr. Boma Douglas (2017 – 2021).
While presenting the award, His Worshipful, The Mayor said, "It is sad that the community will potentially be losing the High Commissioner soon".
Cllr Michael Situ used the platform to recognise the Ambassador’s proactive approach as the High Commissioner of Nigeria.
L-R: Cllr. Johnson Situ, Ayo Akinfe Chair, CANUK, Florence Eshalomi MP representing Vauxhall London, His Worshipful, The Mayor of Southwark Council, Cllr. Michael Situ, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola OFR with spouse, Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola and Hon. Niyi Zaccheus Current Chairman of NIDO.
"His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola interacted and engaged very well with the British and Nigerian communities in the United Kingdom".
From right: Prince Mike Abiola Publisher, African Voice Newspaper, Hon. Niyi Zaccheus Chairman of NIDO, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola with spouse, Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola, Dr. Dayo Olomu and other guests.
Ambassador Isola was presented with an Excellent Stewardship Award, for his remarkable and dedicated service to the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom.
Sunshine Sisters International with Ambassador Sarafa Isola. From L-R: Bola Ojo, Lara Daniel, Bola Alausa and Juliana Abiade.
Mayor Situ, while speaking on the significance of the award, as reported by African Voice Newspaper said, "The award is a parting gift from the community to the High Commissioner in appreciation of his excellent accomplishments, his support and his strong voice during his brief tenure.
Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola, The Mayor of Southwark Council, Cllr. Michael Situ with members of the Nigerian community in the UK
Southwark Council takes pride in recognising those who have contributed to the development of both the area and its people".
His Worshipful, The Mayor of Southwark, African Voice reported, presented Ambassador Isola with the Southwark Council plaque of Excellence and a selection of other Southwark Council memorabilias consisting of the Southwark flag, tie, lapels, scarf and umbrella.
"Wherever you go in this world Your Excellency, we want you to remember us and also fly the Southwark flag", Mayor Situ enthused.
Ambassador Isola in his response, acknowledged the Mayor for organising the forum to discuss issues around integration and the Nigerian perspective on the occasion of the 63rd Independence anniversary of Nigeria.
Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola with spouse, Dr (Mrs) Bolanle Isola, Mayor of Southwark Council, Cllr. Michael Situ, CANUK and NIDO Executives and members of the Nigerian community.
In his reactions to the issues raised during the panel discussion, Ambassador Isola encouraged the community in the UK to forge a common Nigerian objective. He appealed to Nigerians to see diversity as an asset, and not a liability. Patriotism, bonding, networking and oneness are important in a renewed relationship.
He cited the example of India with 51 ethnic groups and once they are in Britain, they become one group and the result is that a British-Indian is the current Prime Minister of Britain.
He challenged the seven Members of Parliament of Nigerian descent, Mayors, Councillors, Professionals, Captains in the private sector and other strategic stakeholders to meet at least quarterly to discuss strategies of addressing common concerns.
He advised the diaspora to educate Nigerians at home not to leave Nigeria just for the sake of travelling abroad. The British Society runs on skilled professionals and those without the required skill should please stay at home to engage in numerous viable enterprises. Nigeria is still the most profitable country to do business.
Ambassador Isola queried why some Nigerians would save five million naira only to cross to Britain and start living on the streets referring to the Japa syndrome. He lamented that bankers are leaving employment to come to the ‘Island of fantasy’ thinking it is Eldorado in the UK.
He further advised the Diaspora community to avoid dwelling on negative narratives through the WhatsApp and other social media platforms. Other nationals in Britain use such platforms to promote business activities and positive networking.
"If you promote negative narratives about Nigeria, other people in United Kingdom will use the same microscope to profile Nigerians in the UK. Obviously, such profiling turns around to impact negatively on the Nigerian community in the UK”, said Ambassador Isola.
He advised Nigerians that it was time to have a change of attitude, move from social gathering to networking and platforms to dialogue on issues affecting Nigerians in the Diaspora. We have the intellectual and human capacity but it appears we are not optimising our potentials".
In conclusion, Ambassador Isola said that he is leaving soon but he hopes that the Mayor and other Nigerians in the UK will continue on this trajectory to make the UK a better place for Nigerians.
The event was attended by UK politicians, members of parliament, community leaders, past and present chairmen of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK) and a large gathering of Nigerians across the UK represented by leaders of different professional organisations, like the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), British Nigerian Law Forum (BNLF) and many others.
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