Friday, May 15, 2009

A conference on Nigerian development in Winnipeg

People of Winnipeg, Manitoba will talk about how to help development in Nigeria during a two day conference. The group "Nigerians in Diaspora Organization" includes Nigerian immigrants who invited government and business leaders to discuss how to help their homeland. But, some Nigerian immigrants are critical of the idea of the conference the conference.

From the Winnipeg Free Press, writer Carol Sanders tells us what the conference will focus on and the views of it's critics.

Government officials, professors, and expatriates from Nigeria are gathering in Winnipeg with members of the diaspora to try and solve some of the African country's problems.

Nigerians in Diaspora Organization have organized a two-day conference starting today called Vision 2020: Investing in Energy, Food & Health.

"For a country like Nigeria -- one of the largest economies in west Africa -- we don't have a reliable and affordable supply of electricity," said conference spokesman Ed Onyebuchi.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, but its people still suffer from intense poverty, corruption and tribal conflict, according to Canada's Foreign Affairs department.

The conference will discuss solutions to problems standing in the way of development, including electricity.

Nigerian Florence Okwudili questioned how a conference in Winnipeg can help her former homeland.

"Why talk about 2020 when people are starving in 2009? You can't even get a doctor in a Nigerian hospital," said Okwudili, who visited Nigeria last summer. "It's sad." The diaspora organization member planned to attend the conference but said the time and money involved might have been better spent in the country with the problems.

"Hold a realistic conference in Nigeria and invite the poor people to talk about their problems," said Okwudili, a Canadian citizen.

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