Femi Awoniyi concludes his 3-part report on the annual general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, which held in Vienna, Austria, on 8-10 November.
The third and final day of the annual general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), chaired by Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Nigeria’s envoy to Austria, featured discussions on the challenges before the diaspora in its bid to better contribute to the development of Nigeria.
Special guests at the meeting include Alhaji Abdul-Bin Rimdap, former ambassador to Austria and Germany; Minister Okolo Maduka, who represented Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Britain, Justice George Oguntade (rtd.); Minister Norman Sixth Wokoma, who stood in for Prof. Steve Davies Ugbah, ambassador to the Russian Federation/ Belarus; and Barrister Vivian Iroh Uchime, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Abia State on the Diaspora, who represented her principal, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu.
First on the agenda of the day was a presentation of the ‘State of the Organization’ given by the chairman, Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, an account of his stewardship since his election in 2016. He listed the major achievements of his 2-year tenure, including:
- Holding the first-ever NIDOE Media Summit
- Securing a partnership with the ICPC (in full the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission), leading to the setting up of a Diaspora Desk at the organisation
- Holding the NIDOE Project Summit in partnership with AfricanTide Union in Dortmund, Germany
- Holding the Diaspora Housing Investment Summit in Lisbon, Portugal
- Holding of the first-ever Nigerian Diaspora Global Development Conference, the first of its kind, in London to fashion a framework for a stronger diaspora engagement in national development
- The inauguration of the first-ever Nigerian Diaspora Global Hall of Fame in July 2018 in London to recognize and motivate diaspora achievers
- The increased focus on business conferences by NIDOE to promote foreign trade and investment in Nigeria
- The opening of a NIDOE liaison office in Abuja
- Opening of new chapters and the reactivation of dormant ones
- Increased visibility of NIDOE in Nigeria
The presentation was acknowledged with a loud ovation in recognition of the immense achievements of the Gbandi-led executive council, which was elected in 2016 for a 2-year term that would the same day submit itself for the renewal of its mandate.
The country chapters followed with their own presentations, listing their successes and challenges.
A robust debate followed the presentations with strategies discussed to achieve the goal of a more vibrant organization.
Ambassador Okeke praised NIDOE members for keeping the organisation going despite the challenges it faces. She also saluted NIDOE’s efforts that contributed to the emergence of the National Diaspora Commission (NDC), challenging the body to ensure that the Commission lived up to the hopes of the Diaspora.
The envoy advised the Nigeria diaspora to study the diasporas of countries like Israel, China, India and Philippines who are well integrated in their countries’ development processes. This, she said, would enable NIDOE to adopt best practices on how to contribute more effectively to Nigeria’s development.
READ ALSO Vienna 2018: A Nigerian gathering with a difference
The ambassador also charged the diaspora to look into how they could contribute to finding a solution to the problem of irregular migration, revealing that Nigerian diplomats in Europe had to daily attend to issues related to undocumented Nigerians.
Minster Okolo Basil Maduka, who represented Justice George Oguntade (rtd.), Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, praised the diaspora for its contribution to governance in Nigeria, citing technocrats like Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former federal finance minister, and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, former federal minister of agriculture, who is now the president of the African Development Bank. The diplomat, seconding Ambassador Okeke, also charged the diaspora to help find a solution to the problem of irregular migration.
The day’s activities were concluded with elections into the executive council of NIDOE. Several of the candidates, including Gbandi as Chairman, Engr. Cornelius Obot (Vice-Chairman), Barrister Georgian Opara (Legal Officer), and Adeyemi Ademuyiwa (Financial Officer) were returned unopposed.
Other officials elected were Vire Komolafe as General Secretary, Rev (Mrs) Helen Onwu-Dorkenoo (Treasurer), Fidel Oneil Wilson (PRO/Asst. General Secretary), Godson Azu (Social/Welfare Officer), Ade Adeyanju (EU Relationship Officer), and Laura Ngozi Ikeobi and Ponfa Roy Bitrus as Special Duties Officers.
Ecobank, major sponsor of the event, expressed its readiness to partner with NIDOE to forge a strategic partnership with the Diaspora. Linus Adaba, Group Head Remittances & Mobile Money at the bank, explained that Ecobank had a Diaspora Product and Services Department offering specialised services to Nigerians resident outside their home country. “How does the money you send work for you?” Mr Adaba asked, advising Diaspora Nigerians to explore opportunities of investment offered by his bank. The bank manager and his colleague, Ms Olukorede Demola-Adeniyi, Group Head Personal Banking, attended to conference participants during the 3-day event on how to open account and invest in the different products offered by the bank.
The conference was concluded with a gala night of music, plenty of good food and drinks and, of course, good music. And we danced and danced…
Which way forward for the Diaspora? The Kenneth Gbandi-led NIDOE has its job cut out for it in the next two years. The organization must live up to its billing as a game changer in the relevance of the Diaspora to national development.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe (NIDOE) is the European arm of the global Nigerian Diaspora network recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Established in 2000 and registered in England and Wales in 2002 under the Companies Act, the organization’s Headquarters is in London from where it serves its 19 Regional Chapters in 18 European Countries.
NIDOE and the other continental arms of NIDO – in the Americas, Asia and Africa, are together the largest assembly of Nigerians worldwide.