The Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrates the 62nd Anniversary of Independence

Monday October 3rd, 2022, The Hilton, The Hague – The Netherlands.

Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Dutch captains of Industry, members of the Nigerian Diaspora, private sector stakeholders, Dutch companies with investments in Nigeria, Nigerian international students and professionals from different fields were warmly welcomed at the Hilton on Monday October 3rd to partake in this joyous event.

The many guests were greeted at the door by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency Dr Eniola Ajayi, including Ambassadors from the following countries: Germany, USA, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Panama, Norway, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Rwanda, Angola, Jordan, Lebanon, Australia, Pakistan, Uruguay,  Romania, Bolivia, Croatia, Brazil, Israel, Cameroon, Malta, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Burundi, Venezuela, Vietnam, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Krisztina, Indonesia, Lithuania, Philippines, Serbia, Algeria, Latvia, North Macedonia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Malaysia, People’s Republic of China, Georgia, and Panama. The Director-General and the Deputy Director-General of the OPCW, as well as representatives of other Diplomatic Missions and International Organisations also graced the occasion.

The room scintillated with the beautiful array of African national attire in all colours, shimmering fabrics, and intricate embroidery, without mentioning the stunning headwear.

Her Excellency Dr Eniola Ajayi started her speech by congratulating the assembly on this wonderful occasion, greeting in particular Mr Tijmen Rooseboom, representative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr Michael Balogun, CEO of Tour2Nigeria.

Ambassador Ajayi rejoiced at the cordial relations Nigeria has enjoyed with the Netherlands which reach back to before independence and the many top-level engagements and consultations the two countries have enjoyed over the years as well as their joint participation in world peace through membership amongst others of the OPCW, CFC and International Courts.

Focus of the celebration is the uniqueness of Nigeria and the talents of its inhabitants over many sectors with a highlight this year on the entertainment industry.
Something that many of us do not know is that “Nollywood” is the second largest film industry in the world, earning over $660 million/year including many deals with Amazon Prime and in particular Netflix (which included 150 Nigerian films over the last two years) and is top sponsor of the event.

Her Excellency pursued her speech highlighting Nigeria’s progress in actively diversifying in the non-oil industry sector, one of its biggest partners in this being the Netherlands which also counts as Nigeria’s number One trading partner in Europe. Many of the Dutch companies such as Friesland Campina and Shell International (also partnering this event) have been “household names” in Nigeria for close to a century and to quote Her Excellency “this relationship has been truly dynamic in its response to changing economic and climatic challenges in our world”.

Ambassador Ajayi then delighted the assembly with some, as she put it “heart-warming facts on the country”, too many for me to list entirely but such as the fact that Nigeria boasts 250 ethnic nationalities and does not have a single state without a mineral deposit. The country is also home to the largest earthworks and the largest and oldest dye pit and is the “Twins capital” of the world (which could be due to the high consumption of yam and okro in that area). We must not forget the large number of natural wonders the country can be proud of such as the Niger delta and the Ikogosi warm spring. To add to the list are many outstanding professors, playwrights (including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for literature), award winning musicians and sportsmen. To quote once more Her Excellency “The Nigerian citizen tells the story of dynamism, courage, resilience, strength (…) and finds humour in everything despite the challenges we confront daily”.

And then it was time to experience some of these wonders ourselves, such as the colourful and flavour-rich Nigerian cuisine, some wonderful dancing to the vibrant beat of the drum and tinkle of bells, and the ceremonial cutting of the splendid cake by Ambassador Ajayi and Mr. Rooseboom and the Ngbaka brew and their range of beers (also sponsors tonight) which the Ambassador described as “the success story of four African boys in Europe to keep the authentic flavour of Africa alive”.

What a pleasure! The raffle was a big success and we all left with a goodie bag.

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