Nigerians in the United States and Canada will be gathering together today- (OCT 16) in New York to honor the Top 50 Nigerians as part of activities marking Nigeria's Golden Jubilee Independence anniversary.
Expected to grace the events are Nigeria's Ambassador to the US, Prof. Ade Adefuye, Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Joy Ogwu and the Nigerian High Commissioner in Canada, Ambassador Iyorwuese Hagher, to be represented by his deputy.
While the Federal Government announced a list of special recognition for fifty top citizens as part of the nation's 50th independence anniversary, Nigerians living in the United States of America and Canada have also selected 50 high achievers among themselves for the awards of the Nigeria Diaspora prizes and other special recognitions.
Empowered Newswire, a Nigerian-owned news agency is coordinating the Awards and the Dinner event slated to take place at the Sheraton Hotel in New York this evening starting at 6pm.
Some dignataries and guests from Nigeria have started arriving in New York including a representative from the Nigerian presidency, Dr. Jubrin Adamu, Senior Special Assistant, who will be standing in for the Vice President.
Also many of the winners have started arriving in New York from different parts of the US and Canada. For instance, Jelani Aliyu the Nigerian born car designer from Michigan who designed Chevy Volt, acclaimed globally as the best car of the future, arrived yesterday in New York for the event.
Planners of the event from Empowered Communications in New York also said other confirmed guests and dignataries include Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, the African Union and United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Ms. Oby Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank for Africa Region, who is among the top 50 selected, and Chief Harry Akande, himself a long standing US multi-millionaire.
Explaining the purpose of the awards in a press release, Mr. Laolu Akande said Nigerians abroad have often been the butt of negative media reports because of the undoing of a very few bad eggs, yet there continues to exists a huge number of outstanding Nigerians in the US and Canada, just like in Europe and elsewhere abroad.
"If we don't start to project our own image positively, no one will, because everyone else is busy projecting their own image," Akande, who is himself based in New York observed.
He said the awards were limited to North America just to make it manageable, disclosing that several tons of nominations were received from the Nigerian community in the US and Canada when in July this year calls for nominations were sent out.
Three award categories and their winners are expected to be unveiled at the Awards Dinner tonight according to Akande, including the Nigeria Diaspora Prizes, Distinguished Nigerians abroad and group recognitions.
Nigeria's Ambassador to the US, Prof. Ade Adefuye will preside at the ceremony which is expected to attract the cream of the Nigerian communities in US and Canada.
According to the CEO of Empowered Communications, Mr. Laolu Akande, a special publication the top fifty Nigerians reflecting on their life, qualifications and contributions to Nigeria's international standing, will also be presented to the public at the dinner.
Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, international businessman, Dr. Kase Lawal and celebrated young author, Miss Chimamanda Adichie are among the fifty top personalities billed to receive awards for lifting Nigeria's name in dignified circles across the globe.
Also included are two journalists ÔÇô Sunday Dare who was with the "Voice of America" and Mike Okwu who has worked with both the CNN and the NBC in the United States.
Among the corporate bodies to be given special recognition awards are the the US-based Nigerian Nurses Association, the New Jersey Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), Saharareporters and the Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, (NHEF).
The complete list is below:
1. Dr. Kase Lawal (International Business) Chairman, CAMAC Energy Inc, New York & Houston.
2. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (International Finance) Managing Director, World Bank, Washington DC.
3. Dr. Oby Ezekwesili (International Public Service) Vice President for Africa, World Bank, Washington DC.
4. Mrs. Beatrice Hamza-Bassey (Law) Partner, Hughes Hubbard & Reed Chambers, New York.
5. Dr. Funmi Olopade (Medicine) Professor of Medicine & Human Genetics, University of Chicago.
6. Dr. Oluyemi Badero (Medicine) Invasive & Interventional Cardiologist, New York.
7. Professor Ferdinand Ofodile (Medicine) Plastic Surgeon & Professor of Medicine, Columbia University, New York.
8. Professor Toyin Falola (Academic) University of Texas Professor of History.
9. Professor Joseph Igietseme (Research) the US govt-owned Center for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta.
10. Mr. Jelani Aliyu (Innovative Technology) Senior Auto Designer, General Motors, Michigan.
11. Professor Jacob Olupona (Academic) Professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard University.
12. Mr. Kayode Oladele (Human Rights) International Lawyer from Justice Center, Detroit, Michigan.
13. Mrs Hauwa Ibrahim (Human Rights) Law Lecturer, Harvard University.
14. Pastor Goke Oyedeji (Community Leadership) Evergreen Recognition, New York.
15. Pastor James Fadele (Community Leadership)-Chairman of the Board, RCCGNA- Dallas, Texas.
16. Dr. Ola Kassim (Diaspora Leadership) Toronto, Canada.
17. Professor Biodun Jeyifo (Academic) Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.
18. Dr. Peter Osemobor (Banking) CEO/ Managing Director, Dinosaur Capital New York & formerly Senior Vice President, UBS, New York.
19. Chief Usua H. Amanam (Business) Chairman, Amakpe International Refineries & Amtrat International Corporation, California.
20. Dr. Marcel Ajah (Medicine) Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, New York.
21. Ms. Chimamanda Adichie (Literary Arts) Novelist & writer.
22. Dr. Baba Adam (Public Service) Vice President, North Central University, Arizona & Chairman, defunct US-PRONACO Movement.
23. Prof. Mobolaji Aluko (Public Service) public commentator and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Howard University.
24. Prof. Femi Vaughan (Academia) Professor of Africana Studies & History, Bowdoin College, Maine.
25. Dr. Jide Williams (Medicine) Neurologist, Columbia University, New York.
26. Mr. Toni Onianwah (Business) CEO, Apex Petroleum, Maryland.
27. Mr. Seni Hazzan (Business) SHIELD Academy, of Wall Street fame, Connecticut
28. Mr. Fidelis Umeh Information Technology) President Barack Obama's IT expert, Chicago.
29. Dr. Victor Oladokun (Media Host) CNBC Africa, Virginia.
30. Mr. Chamberlain Peterside (Banking & Investing) CEO, New Era Capital
31. Dr. Vincent Ahonkhai (International Public Service) senior official, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle.
32. Prof. Edward Oparaoji (Diaspora Leadership) Global Pharmaceutical Executive, Pennsylvania.
33. Dr. Mercy Obamogie (Medicine) Family Practice, Maryland.
34. Prof. Abba Gumel (Academic) Professor of Mathematics, University of Manitoba, Canada.
35. Prof. Benedicta Egbo (Academia) Professor of Education, University of Windsor, Canada.
36. Ms. H Garuba (Youth Recognition) Queen's University, Canada.
37. Prof. Ebere Nduka (Academia) Professor of Biology, City University of New York.
38. Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians, OAN-organizers of the annual Nigerian Independence parade in New York.
39. Prof. Wale Awodiya (Academia) Professor of Communication, Suffolk County Community College, New York.
40. Nigerian Nurses Association-USA
41. Nigeria in Diaspora Organization, NIDO, New Jersey Chapter
42. Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum, NDLF.
43. Saharareporters (Citizen Media) aka "Africa's Wikileaks"
44. Nigerian Village Square
45. African Abroad Newspaper
46. Nigeria Higher Education Foundation, NHEF
48. Mr. Sunday Dare (Media), NN24 & newsbreaknow.com, formerly of Voice of America fame.
49. Dr. Akin Awofolaju (Business Strategist & CEO Amerihire Inc.) New York.
50. Mr. Mike Okwu (Media), of CNN and NBC fame.