By Lateef Ibrahim
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has assured Nigerians living abroad that the commission will continuously work towards strengthening collaboration and unity of purpose as well as collate accurate data of all Nigerians in the Diaspora.
She stated this during a two-hour town hall webinar meeting with Nigerians living in the Americas on Saturday night which coincided with one year anniversary of the Commission, according to a statement signed by Abdur-Rahman Balogun
Head, Media and Public Relations Unit NIDCOM.
The meeting which was moderated by Messrs Samuel Adewusi, Wale
Adesanya, Patricia Mawa, Mike Essien, and Obed Monago had over 760 registered participants and over 1.6 million live stream on Facebook.
She said that the Commission will work harmoniously with various groups and partners towards national development ,adding that NIDCOM, working with the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Diaspora, plan to convene an all stakeholders meeting ,on how to strengthen NIDO, to fulfill the mission of its founding fathers to evolve to a viable , unifying and effective body that will involve and be inclusive of all recognized and registered Nigerian Diaspora organisations.
On the issue of data,Dabiri-Erewa explained that without necessary data to know the total number of Nigerians living abroad, skilled andunskilled, planning will be uncoordinated, adding that the Commisionwill work with all state focal persons on diaspora to fulfill its visionand mission.
She noted that National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) had flagged off the capturing in some countries while the Nigeria Immigration Service has also eased the process of passport procurement and renewals with the launching of a 10-year validity document as well as visa on arrival policy
In addition to that, she announced that a special website portal will be created by NIDCOM where all diaspora groups, individuals and organisations will be registered, so as to be dealing with authentic entities.
On the issue of NIDCOM board, she was optimistic that President Muhammadu Buhari will constitute appropriately, but denounced the fallacy in some circles that the two representatives of the Diaspora in six continents will come from ONLY ONE diaspora organisation.
While appreciating the Diasporans for their remittances back home, she said the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown will definitely affected remittances , but thanked the various diaspora groups for putting together a platform to make donations to the country to fight the pandemic.
On Investment opportunities in Nigeria, Dabiri-Erewa stressed the need for Nigerians in the Diaspora to explore veritable areas of investment in Nigeria as President Muhammadu Buhari has created enabling and conducive environment for them to contribute their quota to any sector for national development. The Nigerian Diaspora investment Summit will continue to work at attracting Diaspora investments to Nigeria, she added
Other issues discussed include maltreatment of Nigerians abroad, alleged preference of the Nigeria Government for other nationals to execute projects in Nigeria, repatriation of Nigerians, Federal government’sroad map on the power sector, health and Education.
The meeting also discussed the impact of corruption and what FG is doing to curtail it, how to stop brain drain especially Nigerian professionals abroad, role of the Nigerians in the Diaspora in fight against Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria as well as other volunteering jobs.
The meeting also discussed NIDCOM relationship with African Union and ECOWAS as well as Ministries, Department and Agencies in Nigeria to minimise the bottlenecks and bureaucracies that Nigeria returnees do face in which Dabiri-Erewa assured them of NIDCOM positive intervention.
She used the opportunity to roll out the activities of the Commission in the last one year and areas of intervention in spite of its numerous challenges and canvassed for more support and understanding from all the stakeholders.
The NIDCOM boss, however, said the Commission has opened some dedicated emails (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) and phone contacts (+1888644237213, +1234222231) as well as Artificial Intelligence AI chatbot Platform where all ideas , suggestions and instant responses are collated.
Dabiri-Erewa used the opportunity to condole again the families of over 30 Nigerians in the Diaspora who died as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, mostly in America and UK, for God to accept their souls and their families to have the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses.
Saturday night online webinar townhall meeting with the Diaspora will be the second in the series of major meetings after that of UK two weeks ago.