The Nigerian Association in BC was founded in 1984 through the initiatives of few Nigerians, mostly students of UBC, SFU, BCIT and other colleges then. It was named the Nigerian Association of British Columbia; the first President was Dr. Godwin Eni. The purpose of the Association was to create a forum for Nigerians to meet, socialize and discuss global issues, including news from Nigeria.
The Association went through rapid changes, over time, as turnover of members, who were mostly students, was very rapid. The Association became relatively stable and increasing in number beginning in the early 90’s, as membership became larger and more inclusive—less composed of students and more of Nigerians and Nigeria- Canadians who were not necessarily students. The Association was formally registered in 1990, with the BC Registry Services, in Victoria, as the Nigeria Cultural Association of British Columbia. Mr. Emmanuel Onukwulu assumed the Presidency of the newly recognized Association. It was incorporated in year 2000.
In the late 1990s, the Association became unstable due to dwindling membership, low community spirit, inability of the Association to meet the aspirations and demands of its membership, lack of vision, shortage of funds and wrangling among the leadership. The Association was in this position until 1999, when Dr. Godwin Eni summoned the Nigerian community to a meeting, to discuss the strategies to move the Association forward from that standstill position. The meeting came up with following recommendations:
- Changing the name of the Association from The Nigeria Cultural Association of BC to The Nigeria Canada Development Association of BC. The change was meant to reflect the reality of identity in Canada, to promote inclusivity and attract more potential members to the Association.
- The creation of committees with volunteer membership, designed to provide a platform for members input, encourage grass root participation and ensure members engagement and involvement in the running of the affairs of the Association. The committees included—Council of the Elders, Women Committee, Youth Committee, Children Committee, and so on.
- Expanding the Association’s mission to address urgent and pressing needs of members
- Changing the title ‘President’ of the Association to ‘Chair’ of the Executive Council’. This was intendedto discourage abuse, prevent the tendency for fiefdom or cronyism, encourage cooperation among executive members towards collective decision-making process and accountability by the executive as a whole, rather than just the ‘President’
- Eliminate the convoluted ‘impeachment of the President’ clause in the constitution and replace with a much clearer procedure for removing members of the executive, including the ‘President’.
- Creation of a bi-monthly newsletter, to disseminate news and information to members on the activities of the Association, and also serve as a forum for members to express their views on issues relating to the community or Nigeria at large.
A new constitution was drafted based on the recommendations of the special committee; this constitution was ratified in 1999; new executive members were then elected to implement the changes and direct the affairs of the Association—volunteers were appointed to the newly constituted committees of the Association. The Association has been moving forward slowly since then, at times led by Executive body and at times by Caretaker Committee. Overtime, some of these recommendations, either by motion passed or via updated Constitutions—have changed to meet today’s objectives and purposes. Recently, by a motion passed and approved by the BC Registry Services (in Victoria, BC), the name of the Association was changed from Nigeria Canada Development Association of British Columbia to Nigeria Canada Association of British Columbia—to reflect what the Association is specifically all about. The recent executive body (2013-2017), under the leadership of Madam Comfort Ero, have stressed the need for a Nigerian House in BC, and have been working relentlessly on achieving this goal; the intentions for this house are to have a place that will serve as location for Consular Services, for meeting representatives from the Nigerian High Commissioner’s Office, for featuring seminars, events and activities; for the Nigerian Association and his Ethnic Associations, to have a place for monthly and annual general meetings, and so on.
The population of Nigerians in British Columbia has continued to grow at a steady rate. Today, it is estimated that over 1000 Nigerians live in BC (though not all attend meetings); this has had a great influence on the objectives and activities of the Association. Currently the purposes of the Association are:
- To provide a forum in which Nigerians, Nigerian Canadians and Canadians in British Columbia can interact and share knowledge, and also to promote cultural exchange, trade, commerce and tourism between Canada and Nigeria.
- To promote the cultural heritage of Nigeria within the context of the entire objectives of the Association’s constitution
- To undertake philanthropic activities that benefit new immigrants to Canada
- To liaise and collaborate with other Organizations and international Associations of similar interests andto foster healthy inter-cultural exchange among Canadians
- Participate in Community events and activitiesFew past events and activities of the Association include:
- Annual celebration of the Nigeria Independence Day Anniversary
- Children fun activities
- Summer picnics
- Award recognition
- Monthly general meetings
- Monthly Information sessions such as
- * How to Start Your Own Business
- * Protecting Your Mental Health
- * Job Search Techniques
- * Steps to Home Ownership: Why Rent When You can Own? o Immigrant Settlement
- * Guide to Teen Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and o Planning Your Finances
- * All you need to know when preparing your tax
- Organized a peaceful rally to ask the Nigerian Government to find ways to “Bring back our girls” kidnapped by Boko-Haram in Nigeria
- Organized an event “Feeding and clothing the Homeless.”
- Participation in the events and activities of the Vancouver Multicultural Society
- Forum with the Nigeria High Commissioner (from Ottawa)
- Coordinate Consular service in British ColumbiaThe Association is planning to become more involved in community events and activities, developing strategies to aggressively respond to the needs of its members. It is the Association’s hope that as membership continues to grow, there will be effective ideas on how to completely and effectively accomplish the stated goals and objectives of the Association.
The chronological order of its leadership of the Association to-date is:
- Godwin Eni (President) (1984)
- Captain Lucky Anako
- Kayode Dawodu (President) (1985)
- Emmanuel Onukwulu (President) (1990)
- Rev. Paul Ndukwe (Interim Caretaker Committee Chairman)
- Dr. Felix Ofulie
- Wale Adeyinka (Chairman – 1999)
- Ovie Mukoro (President – 2004)
- Clifford Inimgba (President) (2004)
- Bobby Osagie (Interim Caretaker Committee Chairman) (2005)
- Emmanuel Onukwulu (President) (2006)
- Ode Iweh (Interim Caretaker Committee Chairman) (2009)
- Lewis Oladuntoye (Interim Caretaker Committee Chairman) (2011)
- Md Comfort Ero (President)(2013)
- Onyeka Dozie (President) (2017)
(History composed with the help of Mr. Emmanuel Onukwulu and Mr. Adewale Adeyinka)