Acting President Yemi Osibanjo’s signing of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Establishment Bill 2017 into law has been praised for giving teeth to the government’s self-professed desire to partner its citizens abroad.
The Diaspora Commission Act establishes the commission under the supervisory jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It has the responsibility to coordinate and organise Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), said in a statement this week in Abuja officially announcing that the acting president had assented to the Bill.
“It will also provide a database of Nigerians in various fields and potentialities as resource base for Nigeria and the world to draw from, as well as protect the interest of all Nigerians,” added Enang, explaining the functions of the Commission.
Responding to the development, Kenneth Gbandi, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), said: “NIDOE Leadership and indeed the Global Nigerian Diaspora community is encouraged and revitalized”.
In an official letter to Acting President Osibanjo, Gbandi added: “The assent to the Diaspora Commission Establishment Bill 2017 has rekindled once again the Diaspora indomitable spirit to reposition NIDO and the Nigerian Global community as a well ordered and dependable group, promoting national development.”
Gbandi called on the government to set into motion without any delay the process of establishing the commission. “Your Excellency, with the gracious assent to the Bill, we are of high expectation that the Commission will take off without delay. This is because the Bill was passed by the NASS [National Assembly] after the 2017 Budget appropriation was sent to the NASS. We hereby respectfully implore your Excellency to utilise your discretionary budget expenditure to set up the Commission. This will enable the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work together to set up the Commission, appoint its executive officers, provide office, recruit staff, and all the necessary and needful logistics,” Gbandi said.
In her comment, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described the signing into law of the Diaspora Commission Bill as “a welcome development”. Dabiri-Erewa noted that 26 countries has full ministries for the Diaspora and “having a commission for our almost 15 million Nigerians abroad is a most welcome development”.
The presidential SSA introduced the bill six years ago when she was the chairperson of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora Affairs. “I’m so excited on the signing of the bill into law after introducing this bill to the Parliament about six years ago, finally, it’s now a law, we thank God. Our advocacy for a one stop agency for diaspora matters is finally a reality,” she added.
The establishment of the Nigerian Citizens in Diaspora Commission is to ensure the protection of Nigerians in Diaspora, and promote and facilitate their effective participation in economic, political and social development of the nation.