PLANS by the current executive committee of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) to acquire a Nigerian community centre have taken a major step forward with the creation of a dedicated committee tasked with finding a suitable building.
To be known as Canuk’s Nigerian Community Centre Committee (NCCC), the body will be chaired by Canuk’s treasurer Ily Maisanda. An eight-person committee, the NCCC is made up of Ily Maisanda; Olagoke Oladosu, Nigerian Community in Manchester; Roseline Etchie, Diaspora of Nigeria Organisation Worldwide ; Olamide Oladejo, Nigerian Community in Oxfordshire; Semiu Aliu, Igbomina Descendants Association; Olaniyi Alabi, Nigerian Disability Association; Nobert George, FGC Kaduna Alumni; Sherifat Kamal, Kwara State Association.
Established to help locate a building somewhere in Greater London that can be converted into a Nigerian community centre that will serve as both a hub and a banqueting facility, the committee will be working closely with the office of the mayor of London. In December last year, Canuk’s executive committee met with officials from the mayor’s office led by Debbie Weekes-Bernard, London’s deputy mayor for communities and social justice.
At the meeting, Arman Nouri, the leader of the Mayor of London’s Culture and Community Spaces at Risk Programme, was tasked with leading for the search for a Nigerian community centre. His office will now work with the NCCC to find a suitable building that can serve as a Nigerian community centre.
Mr Maisanda said: “This current Canuk executive committee is working round the clock to secure a facility that can serve as the Nigerian centre community in the UK. We are looking for a kind of building with the capacity to sit 500 people in dinner format, kitchen facilities, a stage, parking for at least 50 cars, possibly adjoining shops and a small office space attached.”
Now that the committee has been established, apart from working with Mr Nouri, it will consult with all the local authorities in London and also scour websites as it searches for an ideal building. Once it finds a suitable premises, it will then report back to the Canuk executive committee, who will then come up with funding plans.
Canuk chairman, Ayo Akinfe said: “It is unbelievable that despite having a substantial Nigerian community in the UK for decades, we have never had a community centre. We have decided to do something about it, so have created the NCCC and hopefully, they will have an announcement for us at our forthcoming annual general meeting (AGM) on May 21.”
Once a suitable building has been found, the Canuk executive committee will then be faced with the challenge of finding means to fund the project. In the past, there have been efforts to find a Nigerian community centre in London but back then, the move was driven by the high commission, nor Canuk.