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Officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation in a group photograph with Senate President Bukola Saraki (middle) at his office in Abuja, July 2016. The Diaspora Commission when passed into law is expected to create institutional framework for a more effective participation of Nigerians resident abroad in national development / © Afrik Glamour Magazine

Communiqué issued by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Worldwide on the proposed Diaspora Commission

An extra-ordinary meeting of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Worldwide, consisting of its chapters in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, took place on 4 December. The meeting evaluated the current efforts to establish a Diaspora Commission and offers its views on this development. Below is the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting:

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Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation Continues To Stand With The Federal Government Of Nigeria In Its Efforts To Engage The Nigerian Diaspora But Recommends More Transparency And Pragmatism In Its Approach On Diaspora Policy And Diaspora Commission.

With reference to recent communications and reports regarding a “validation seminar” in connection with the Diaspora Policy, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Worldwide (NIDO Worldwide) wishes to reaffirm its support for and confidence in the Federal Government regarding the intention to bequeath Nigeria a befitting Diaspora Policy. It was on this premise that leaders of NIDO Worldwide unanimously resolved that placing higher premium and priority on Diaspora Commission (not Diaspora Policy) bodes better for the Diaspora and for Nigeria as a nation and that the formulation and validation of the Diaspora Policy is better handled by the Diaspora Commission in collaboration with all arms of Government.

The National Assembly is already in the process of passing the Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) bill. While we appreciate the input of all parties contributing to the Diaspora Policy, NIDO Worldwide resolved that all efforts should be channelled to passing the NIDCOM Bill and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora will then be required to double her effort to advise the President to give his assent to the bill.

When the Diaspora Commission is finally established, it will be the appropriate entity to formulate and achieve a mutually beneficial and realistic Diaspora Policy which will address the actual needs, challenges and vulnerabilities of the Nigerian Diaspora including absence of reliable database, insecurity, lack of enabling soft landing, exorbitant remittance costs, double taxation, electoral disenfranchisement, inconsistent international migration policy, lack of parameters for Diaspora engagement, value shock and general exclusion.

Kenneth Gbandi, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe / © ASM e.V.

After a thorough review of the draft Diaspora Policy, the leadership resolved to highlight some glaring contradictions in the document with particular emphasis on items 5.2.17 and 5.4 which states that “The National Assembly Committees on Diaspora Affairs may contribute to the implementation of this policy by supporting the legal framework(s) on Diaspora” and that “In this regard, the Federal Government and the National Assembly can work together to enact necessary laws, with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), in conjunction with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora playing a supervisory role.”

To this extent, the Diaspora Policy erred egregiously because these remarks amount to an unconstitutional decimation of the constitutional responsibility and authority of the legislature bearing in mind that the legislature – in this case the National Assembly Committees on Diaspora Affairs – are the only organs empowered by the constitution to enact laws including those backing the formulation and implementation of the Diaspora Policy. Besides, there is an air of contradiction for “the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora playing a supervisory role” above a legislative institution that has a statutory oversight function in Foreign and Diaspora affairs.

In addition, the draft Diaspora Policy is grossly deficient as far as it sees the entire Diaspora from a universal simplistic prism and fails to consider the complex nature of the far-flung Nigerian Diaspora in terms of diverging values, priorities, interests, orientation and formation.

It was in this consideration that the Federal Government in its wisdom facilitated the establishment of NIDO as the official partner of Government on Diaspora matters. A Diaspora Policy that seeks to return Nigeria to its pre-NIDO era is counterproductive and inconceivable.

In view of the above points, NIDO Worldwide leadership wishes to make the following categorical statements:

  1. That NIDO Worldwide leadership will continue to work with the legislature, the judiciary and the executive arms of the Federal Government of Nigeria including the office of the SSA to the President on Diaspora matters.
  1. That it came to the attention of NIDO Worldwide at a very late hour that a Diaspora Policy “validation seminar” was held on 1 December 2016 and that due to the sudden information and other circumstances surrounding the exercise, it became impossible for NIDO Worldwide to send representatives to the event, although NIDO Americas sent representatives.
  2. That NIDO Worldwide appreciates the recognition being accorded to the Nigerian Diaspora by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a demographic block with the professional and numerical strength to contribute significantly to the socio-economic, industrial and technological development of Nigeria.
  3. That NIDO Worldwide welcomes the increasing awareness of the Federal Government of Nigeria that the estimated 17 Million Nigerians abroad constitute an indispensable pool of human capital which must be galvanized if the much desired take-off in the 21st century must be ignited to achieve set SDG targets.
  4. That NIDO Worldwide shares the views of the Federal Government of Nigeria in actualizing the desire of both the Diaspora and the Federal Government to develop a Diaspora policy that guides the relations with the Diaspora and guarantees their participation in the socio-economic and political development of their home land as well as their rights and stakes including voting rights and general demographic inclusion.

UAs resolved during the NIDO WW meeting of 4 December 2016.

Signed:

Dr Chikelu Kingsman (NIDO Africa)

Samuel Adewusi Esq (NIDO Americas)

Prof Emenike Ejiogu (NIDO Asia)

Hon. Kenneth Gbandi (NIDO Europe)

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