…Charges DFPOs on Harnessing Critical Diaspora Resources for Nation Building
By James Ezema
It was a day of excitements full of healthy competitions as the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on Tuesday formerly inaugurated the State Diaspora Focal Points Officers (DFPOs), with the officers trying to outshine one another.
In her address at the inaugural Summit of State DFPOs in Abuja, the Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, tasked the state officers cutting across political party lines to ensure that they deliver on their mandates, telling them that “if Nigeria is to succeed in harnessing the rich, vital and critical resources of the diaspora for nation building, the states are the engine room”.
According to her, “It is also right to say that the states are the major stakeholders in terms of execution and benefits.
“Let me therefore implore all of you to maximise your being here today and listen attentively. Be conscious of the purpose of your being here, learn all that you need to learn, ask all the questions you need to ask, equip yourself to the maximum, ready to deliver for your states.
“You should know that we are partners with a great mission. Let’s synergies, collaborate and do the needful to attract desired businesses and projects that abound out there”, she said.
Outlining some of the achievements of the Commission, which came into being in June 2019 with the signing of its establishment Act, Hon. Dabiri-Erewa noted that NiDCOM, in collaboration with the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit, a nongovernmental organisation, organised two investment summits in which Nigerians at home and abroad participated.
She also disclosed that the commission has also instituted the 25th July of every year as Diaspora Day and has as well facilitated an annual festival of the Diaspora known as the “Door of Return”. The third edition took place in Badagry in 2019.
The NiDCOM Chairman also said that states like Ekiti and Imo have organised their own versions of Diaspora related events, in which the Commission participated, adding that “the Nigerians in the diaspora commission is on a massive advocacy to get the diaspora to appreciate the critical role they can play in nation building.
“They are being mobilized across all continents and nations to return home and establish businesses in their various areas of expertise”, she said.
So far, she further pointed out, there are good and successful stories that have come out of those efforts, revealing that some of the positive results recorded were in the health sector, agriculture, manufacturing, education, among others.
On remittances, she said that “the 25 billion dollars estimated to have been remitted and injected into the Nigerian economy in 2018 attest to the enormous resources that can be injected into the economy annually. It may interest you to know that the amount does not include other remittances that are done informally.
“The NIDCOM, being a facilitating agency for the diaspora, is therefore empowered to provide the leadership and guide needed to achieve set goals. The states and local governments,as politically designed are the primary beneficiaries of any project or programme that may be harvested from the diaspora”.
She then explained that it was against this background that the interaction was convened to empower and familiarise the participants, state focal persons with the mandate of the commission, “and also provide you the needed impetus for a sound take-off in your various states.”
Earlier in his opening address, the Secretary to the Commission, Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, an engineer, reiterated that the NiDCOM Establishment Act 2017 set up the Commission to harness the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in Diaspora towards the overall socio-economic, cultural and political development of Nigeria and in fulfilling its mandate, the Commission “structurally found out that Diaspora engagement, programmes and projects would be mainly domiciled in the States and Local government areas of the country.
“In these jurisdictions, their Excellencies, the State Governors are the sovereign authorities and therefore must be brought on board for successful fulfilment of NiDCOM’s mandate.
“It was therefore in this regard that NiDCOM contacted all the State Governors and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister to set up a Diaspora Focal Point Office and appoint a State Diaspora Focal Point Officer who would liaise with NiDCOM and Nigerians in the Diaspora worldwide to facilitate the actualization of the mandate in the Act establishing the Commission.”
Dr. Bassi therefore said that the Summit was a forum to share knowledge on the functions and activities of NiDCOM and how it dovetails into the federating units of Nigeria as well as a “Network for harnessing the enormous resources and capabilities of the Nigerians in Diaspora for national development.”
The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who delivered the inaugural lecture went down memory lane, explaining why on assumption of office in 2015, he sought to engage citizens from the State in Diaspora, saying that Nigerians in diaspora are important, not just for the estimated huge remittances annually but more for their expertise in developing various sectors in the country.