A group photograph of some participants with some of the VIPs from Nigeria in Vienna during the 2018 AGM of NIDOE/ Photo: NIDOE Ireland

Vienna 2018: A Nigerian gathering with a difference

Femi Awoniyi, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of The African Courier magazine, writes on the annual general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe which took place on 8-10 November in Vienna, Austria.

From left: Chibuzo Ubochi, chairman of NIDOE UK South, Kenneth Gbandi, Chairman of NIDOE, Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Engr. Abiodun Ogunshakin / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

The general meeting of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) takes place once in a year and it brings together Nigerians from different walks of life, from across Europe. No wonder members of NIDOE look forward to it with joy.

NIDOE, by the way, is the central organization recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria as representing Nigerians resident outside the country.

This year’s event took place in Vienna and it’s a special one. One, it held just before Nigeria’s next general elections slated for February 2019. Moreover, a new executive council of NIDOE was to be elected during the 3-day conference, an event that takes place once in two years.

The UN Centre in Vienna, where the headquarters of the IAEA is situated / Photo: NIDOE


Therefore, there was so much stuff for discussion!!

The weather was mild in Vienna for this time of the year, making it possible to walk around in the city that still proudly wears its imperial past in the many grandiose buildings of historical splendour.

During the presentation on the work of the IAEA / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

While most attendees came by air, many arrived the city by road and rail as well. For me the Vienna main train station is a fitting gateway to the city. Even though I am a proud Berliner, I would choose the Vienna station over the superlative Hauptbahnhof in the German capital city, famed as the biggest in Europe. Vienna is simply unique in its design!

The 3-day event kicked off on Friday, 8 November at the Headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), situated at the UN Centre in Vienna, where we were treated to a presentation of the work of the global institution.

By the way, the IAEA is an autonomous international organisation within the UN system and the global centre for co-operation in the nuclear field.

An official of the IAEA giving a lecture on the work of the global institution, revealing the immense importance of nuclear science and technology to civil life / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

The event, which doubled as the meeting’s opening ceremony, was chaired by HE Ambassador Vivian Okeke, Nigeria’s envoy to Austria, and graced by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora; Alhaji Abdul-Bin Rimdap, former ambassador to Austria and Germany, and his wife, Hajiya Halima Rimdap; Barrister Vivian Iroh Uchime,  Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Abia State on the Diaspora, who represented her principal, HE Dr Okezie Ikpeazu; Prof. Simon P. Mallam, Chairman of Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC); Prof. Lawrence Anikwe Dim, Director General of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA); and other dignitaries from Nigeria.

It was a very informative evening, revealing the immense importance of nuclear science and technology to civil life. From its applications in medicine, agriculture to water and environmental resources management, it became clear to us that atomic energy was not only for war and weapons.

Takeaways from the presentation include the following facts:

  • IAEA has 170 member states
  • IAEA has 2,500 staff members from over 100 countries
  • There’re 450 power reactors in 31 countries with 60 currently under construction across the globe
  • The IAEA partners with Nigeria in different areas, such as helping NAFDAC to set up a laboratory for chemical analysis and equipping radiation medicine units at six university teaching hospitals
  • Nigeria is exploring the possibility of adding nuclear power to its energy mix and it’s receiving support from the IAEA

Plenty of Thanks to Engr. Oluyemi Ogundele, a staff member of IAEA, for putting together such a great event!!

From left: Adeniyi Ayodele, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Engr. Oluyemi Ogundele and Aderemi Sanusi / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Ambassador Okeke said the diaspora was an important segment of the Nigerian population with immense potential to drive national development. She assured of the government’s recognition of NIDOE as representing the country’s citizens abroad and as an indispensable pool of human resource.

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Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, the chairman of NIDOE, used the occasion to formally congratulate Ms Dabiri-Erewa, who had just been nominated for the position of the Chairman/CEO of the National Diaspora Commission, and charged her to work on effective policy frameworks for a more robust diaspora engagement in national development when she assumes office.

After conveying the greetings of President Muhammadu Buhari to the conference, Ms Dabiri-Erewa challenged the diaspora to always seek opportunities for positive intervention in Nigeria. She praised Gbandi for having taken NIDOE “to another level” and she tasked members to build the organisation up “that everybody would like to join”. 

Our chief host, Engr. Ogundele, chairman of the Austrian chapter of NIDOE, also addressed the gathering, explaining the motivation for the IAEA presentation and revealing the immense efforts that went into putting it together.

Even though I am a proud Berliner, I would choose the Vienna station (pictured) over the superlative Hauptbahnhof in the German capital city, famed as the biggest in Europe / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

We wounded the evening up at Aso Rock Restaurant, the Nigerian food spot in Vienna. A buffet had awaited us. Whatever you had missed and wished for was there: dodo, jollof rice, fried rice, pounded yam, gari, efo riro, egusi soup, stew, ogbono, oporoko, fried chicken, fried fish, pommo etc. Many thanks to Mama Carol!

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The evening also provided an opportunity for old friends and acquaintances to catch up and new ones to bond.

It’s nice meeting again Pastor Ibrahim Abarshie (Netherlands/UK), Collins Nweke (Belgium), Ikenna Ogwu (Italy), Dr Bashir Olalekan Obasekola (Russia), Adedotun Dotun-Adegbesan (Ireland) etc. but also getting to know Adeyemi Aderemi and his wife (Portugal), Shade Ope (UK), Dr (Barrister) Ignatius Ejike Obidike (Italy), Adesina Ayodele (Austria), Solomon Ogbaji (France), Emeka Caius (Germany) and many, many others. And also, interestingly, to see for the first time people you have been communicating with for years, such as Godwin Ogbebor (Germany), Aderemi Sanusi (Cyprus), Issa Abdullahi (Switzerland) etc. It was a beautiful evening of sumptuous meals, delicious drinks and lots of laughter!

** Look forward to the Part 2 of my diary of the 2018 annual general meeting of NIDOE


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