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Engr. Oluyemi Ogundele (2nd from right) and Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (2nd from left) at the annual general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe which took place on 8-10 November 2018 in Vienna, Austria/ Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Nigerian Diaspora Commission office saga angers citizens abroad

The news of the eviction of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) from its office in Abuja is causing indignation in the country’s diaspora community.

The Chairman/CEO of the Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, announced at the weekend that the government agency charged with linking the country with the millions of its citizens living abroad was currently homeless.

She explained that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim, had since February evicted the staff of the Commission from the temporary office it had occupied since its take-off last year.

The property in contention belongs to the Nigerian Communication Commission, an agency under the supervision of the minister.

Nigerians abroad say the incident did not show that the federal government really appreciates the enormous contributions of its citizens abroad to the development of the country.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The African Courier, Vienna, Austria-based Engineer Oluyemi Ogundele said the news came as “a rude shock, an unpleasant surprise” to Nigerians in Diaspora.

“The action of the Minister should not only be seen as an affront to the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, or the Commission but also as a slight on the global Nigerian diaspora community,” the nuclear energy expert at the UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, added.

“To start with, it took a very long time for the Commission to be set up and now no permanent office space has been allocated to it by the federal government more than one year after its take-off,” Ogundele, who is a former chairman of the Austrian chapter of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), said.

“In many other countries they even have a Ministry of Diaspora Affairs with a substantive minister in charge.”

The office saga would be the second time within a month that diaspora Nigerians would be having issues with the federal government. NIDOE has been calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the governing board of NIDCOM since its establishment last year.

Several key leaders of the body recently recently unjustifiably attacked the person of Ms Dabiri-Erewa over the non-appointment of the board even though she has no powers to do so. Under the Act establishing the Commission, the President is endowed with the powers to appoint the Chairman/CEO as well as the members of the governing board of NIDCOM.

“I therefore appeal to the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari to do the right thing and provide a permanent office for the NIDCOM without further delay,” Ogundele said, adding that, “millions of Nigerians living in the diaspora are monitoring the situation”.

Sola Jolaoso

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