In what is akin to a giant step since its founding in 2000, the London-headquartered Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), has opened a liaison office in the nation’s capital Abuja, signalling its intention to play a more robust role in national affairs.
The brief ceremony, marking the event on Monday, was attended by among others Prof Nick Eze, CEO of Aulic Nigeria Limited; Barrister Ekpo Una Owo Nta, chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; Femi Awoniyi, Publisher of The African Courier; and Dr George Manuwuike, CEO of NIBOX – a payment service provider in Nigeria.
The NIDOE Liaison Office is located at the Nürnberger Platz in the central business district of Wuse, within a property owned by Nürnberger Nigeria Limited – a real estate development, consulting and management operator. The owner of the company, Anthony Ezekwugo, lived in Germany for many years before returning to invest and settle down at home.
In his opening speech, Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, chairman of NIDOE, outlined the functions of the office, which he described as long overdue. The facility, including a secretarial office, conference room and meeting lounge, will support Diaspora Nigerians with contact information to government agencies and corporate organizations while its conference room and lounge offer ample space for meetings. The liaison office will also serve as a contact point for companies and public institutions seeking to work with Nigerians in Diaspora.
Prof Eze, in a short speech, challenged the Diaspora to act as a watchdog of governance in Nigeria by pointing out what is wrong and offering solutions based on their knowledge and experiences. “You have seen the best outside, you have the duty to bring that knowledge to enrich your home country,” he charged Nigerians living abroad.
The economist and entrepreneur praised Gbandi for “the fire” he has brought into NIDOE, proving that the Diaspora had an important role to play in national affairs.
Mr Nta, a former chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), described Anthony Ezekwugo as a successful diaspora returnee, praising the owner of the Nürnberger Platz for investing at home. “Anthony’s bold venture should inspire other Diasporans to invest at home to drive the country’s economic development,” he added.
Dr George Manuwuike, a former chairman of NIDOE, called for rigorous efforts to enrol Diaspora Nigerians in the national data base, to know exactly how many Nigerians live abroad and where they’re based. Manuwuike, who is the CEO of NIBOX – a payment service provider in Nigeria, also called for the quick take-off of the National Diaspora Commission as “it has a very important role to play as an interface between the government and the Diaspora”.
The Ukraine-trained medical doctor turned businessman praised Gbandi for his efforts to make NIDOE “more relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria”.
In a short speech, Anthony Ezekwugo , a successful diaspora returnee, narrated his life story, of how he studied in Germany and worked for a German company for several years before deciding to return home. “I encourage our people abroad to come back home,” he advised his compatriots living outside their homeland. “Europe is not your place; America is not your place.”
The event also witnessed the presentation of plaques to inductees of the Nigerian Diaspora Global Hall of Fame, who were unable to attend the London ceremony in July. Among the inductees who received their plaque in Abuja were Prof Eze, Barrister Nta, Dr Manuwuike and Anthony Ezekwugo.
One hundred Nigerians were inducted into the first edition of the Nigerian Diaspora Global Hall of Fame at the 2018 Nigerian Diaspora Global Development Conference held in London on 26-28 July.
Gbandi said the criteria for the induction were personal and professional achievements, assistance to fellow Nigerians as well as financial and moral contributions to the realisation of NIDOE objectives.
NIDOE Liaison Office
Plot 1723 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent,