Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Ambassador Godson Echegile over the weekend hailed the Nigerian Technical Aids Corps (TAC) as a noble scheme geared to improve capacity building and development in African, Caribbean and Asian regions.
The envoy was speaking over the weekend at a farewell dinner hosted by the Nigerian High Commission in honour of 40 TAC lecturers at the end of their two-year service in Sierra Leone.
The 2007/2009 volunteer lecturers were deployed to different colleges in the country including Fourah Bay College (FBC), Milton Margai College, Freetown and Eastern Polytechnic Kenema.
The Nigerian envoy hailed the scheme as a noble venture sponsored by the Nigerian Government to boost development in African and Asian countries.
He commended the lecturers saying “you have done Nigeria proud through your meritorious services in the various institutions where you served.”
He pledged the commitment of President Umaru Yar-Adua led administration to the scheme and South-South Co-operation, promising to deploy more lecturers to institutions across the country.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Vandi Minah, in his remarks, described Nigeria as a big brother and friend of Sierra Leone. He recalled the historical and bi-lateral ties between the two countries saying they were “indelible and enduring.”
He said “As a country, we cannot forget that during the war, Nigerian soldiers under ECOMOG bled and died to save our country from anarchy.”
According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, Nigeria has shown that it is “a trustworthy friend”, stressing the need to deepen the cultural links for the mutual benefit of both countries.
“We are not trying to replicate another Nigeria in Sierra Leone but we have a lot to learn from that country which for several decades committed huge resources and man-power through ECOMOG, TAC and similar schemes to ensure peace, development and economic growth in Africa and other countries,” the Minister added.
He said Nigerians should feel free in the country saying “Sierra Leone is a peaceful country full of potentials for business and investment.”
Earlier, the President, Nigerian National Union (NNU) in Sierra Leone, Architect Abel Onomake presented a certificate of Excellence to Mrs. Adeze Ojukwu for meritorious service as Chairperson, of the Union’s Media Committee.
Mrs. Ojukwu, he said galvanized her journalistic skills and academic expertise as a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication at FBC, to rebrand the image of Nigerians in Sierra Leone. He enjoined Nigerian nationals to be law-abiding and avoid any activity capable of undermining the ideals of the country.
He also urged Sierra Leoneans to continue to maintain peace and cordial relations with their Nigerian brothers and sisters due to our common interests and shared visions.
The Vice-Chancellor University of Sierra Leone Prof Aiah Gbakima commended the selfless service of the volunteer lecturers who did marvelously well at their various departments in the institution.
He noted “Your impact was felt and I appreciate your dedication to duty despite the challenges in the university.”
He urged the lecturers to continue to support our graduate and post-graduate students to acquire useful contacts and resources to achieve academic heights. He appealed to the Nigerian envoy to deploy the next batch of TAC volunteers to his institution in order to bridge the gap that would be felt by the departure of the current set of Nigerian lecturers.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, FBC, Prof Redwood-Sawyerr and his counterpart at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), Prof Sahr Gevao also made similar appeals saying the contributions of Nigerian lecturers were invaluable to the academic development of their various institutions.
Ojukwu, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, expressed gratitude on behalf of the team to the Nigerian Ambassador, the Nigerian Union as well as the host community for their support during the two-year service.
She said “We are grateful to our home government for choosing us to render voluntary services in order to support global peace and development. We also learnt a lot of lessons and we will continue to support efforts to improve education in the sub-region.”
The event was attended by members of the diplomatic and business communities as well as the TAC lecturers most of who will depart next week for Nigeria.
*From the archives of Awoko Newspapers Sierra Leone