Wesleyan College is pleased to announce that the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Atlanta, Dr. Amina Smaila, will serve as keynote speaker at commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 10:00 AM in Porter Auditorium.
Appointed to the position in 2021, Ambassador Smaila brings 20 years of experience in the Nigerian foreign service, the last three years spent as deputy director of Nigeria’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Previous assignments include a six-year stint at the UN headquarters in New York. In 2005, she earned her Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Abuja. She is particularly interested in rights for women and children, policy analysis and evaluations, negotiations, and conflict resolution.
The Consulate is the converging point for all Nigerians and aims to serve Nigerians in the United States, as well as other citizens of the United States who may wish to avail themselves of its services in various areas of interests and endeavors. Dr. Smaila devotes much of her time shoring up the consulate’s internal operations and processing a backlog of thousands of passport and visa inquiries. She is keen to tap into the country’s estimated 461,000 diaspora members in the U.S. to help grow economic links between Nigeria and the South. It’s a big region: The Nigerian consulate — one of just two in the U.S. besides the embassy — covers 17 states and Puerto Rico.
Member of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Dr. Steven Okeke said, “Ambassador Smaila has capacity and leadership preparation for this onerous responsibility. Her vision for the Consulate and general well being of Nigerians in the United States is impressive. I believe that this is one of President Buhari’s best appointments - choosing a well educated, detribalized, patriotic, competent world class diplomat for our Mission in Atlanta.”
One-third larger than the State of Texas and the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria, situated on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, has a population of more than 200 million, is a multinational state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages, all identifying with a wide variety of cultures. It has significant oil production, a burgeoning tech and e-commerce scene, and a huge film sector known as “Nollywood,” but the bilateral trade relationship with the U.S. — as with many African countries — has long been plagued by a nagging sense of unrealized potential. Dr. Smaila said, “It’s not enough to say what the U.S. does for Nigeria, but what we can do together as partners.”