What makes Nigeria thick is not just its diversity or colour, Nigerians are Nigeria’s greatest assets, and in the people lies the solutions to the country’s many challenges.
The United States Ambassador ro Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, made this assertion in Ibadan on Monday. He was speaking at an event to mark the 2018 World Earth Day which held at the Trenchard hall, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Earth Day celebration was founded 48 years ago by a former Wisconsin U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson with the objective of introducing environmental issues into the U.S. national agenda. The annual global celebration is, however, to support the environment and promote awareness of the great need to protect the environment and the planet.
Symington who addressed an audience made up of UI management and principal officers, top functionaries of the US embassy in Nigeria and staff and students, stressed the importance of preserving nature in various parts of the country. He stated that his experience visiting the 36 states in the country proved to him that the Nigerian people, their diversity and resilience, form the key to a great country.
The ambassador further charged Nigerians to think of what they could do to make the country greater instead of looking for solution elsewhere.
Harping on the need for the people to be more responsible and responsive in their interaction with the environment in the face of the diverse environmental problems that are threatening the continued existence of humanity, Ambassador Symington said practices such as patronage of bush meat sellers as well as aiding animal smugglers must be discouraged.
His words: “Nigeria means more than the people. What has brought you together as a nation is the people and the people being able to say that believe in the Nigerian dream. For me, the most important thing is the people but without the people, there can’t be Nigeria. I have three ideas to share with you: you, diversity and resilience.
“Nigerians must continue to think of what to do to make the country greater. When it comes to diversity, the treasures of Nigeria are explored. The diversity of Nigeria is extraordinary not only in the people but in the place and the natural endowments.
“I want you to think of the forest not as a forest but as a future. You must learn to use the existence of the forest to make money and life. Discourage those who sell bush meats by not buying and use social media to expose those who smuggle animals that are endangered species.
“There are trees in the forest that produce food, cloths and all that are needed. It is all about the people, their resilience and their diversity. Don’t just save the earth, make it better and make all of us the beneficiaries better.”
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka who was represented by his deputy in charge of Administration, Prof. Emilolorun Aiyelari, said the presence of the US envoy in the institution was an indication of the continued cordial relationship between the institution and the U.S Consulate General in Nigeria, especially its Public Affairs Section.
He thanked the Consulate for its continued support to the institution, particularly making opportunities available to Nigerian scholars in the US and the constant collaboration on the platform of Fulbright Programme.