Foreign Mission News

COVID-19: How NiDCOM, Others Facilitated Evacuation of 6,317 Stranded Nigerians

…As NiDCOM Boss, Abike Dabiri-Erewa Presents the Journey So Far

By James Ezema

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to its rampage globally, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Nigerian Missions around the world have evacuated 6,317 stranded Nigerians, even as the country is still evacuating more citizens.

The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa disclosed this at a press conference held by the Commission ahead of the 2020 national diaspora day celebrations slated  for July, 25th 2020.

Presenting the Commission’s scorecard so far, Hon Dabiri-Erewa assured Nigerians abroad of more support.

She noted that following series of interventions to ameliorate attacks on black Africans in South Africa including Nigerians, the Commission received the first and second batches of stranded Nigerians back home in Lagos on Sept. 11, 2019 and Sept. 18, 2019.

“A total of 501 returnees consisting of 187 and 314 Nigerians respectively. They received SIM Cards worth of N40,000 airtime plus 9GB of data valid for two months, as well as, a soft loan from the Bank of Industry to support those interested in small trade and businesses.

COVID-19: NiDCOM, Others Facilitate Evacuation of 6,317 Stranded Nigerians
The Chairman/CEO, NiDCOM, Hon.Abike Dabiri-Erewa (Middle) flanked by Dr.Sule Yakubu Bassi, Secretary ,Nidcom and David Idagu, Africa Regional Lead, C.Moore Media and representative of The Africa Channel, at a press Conference ahead of July 25th, 2020 National Diaspora Day Celebration held at NiDCOM Office, Abuja on Tuesday.

“While a programme of re-integration has been put in place with the support of some NGOs and their respective states of origin which had been written by NiDCOM after the returnees had been profiled for necessary assistance.

“Currently, as COVID-19 is still on rampage, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions around the world have evacuated and still evacuating stranded Nigerians anywhere in the world”, the NiDCOM boss said.

The full text of her speech reads:

2.0.  It gives me great pleasure and honour to welcome you all to this Press Conference ahead of this year’s National Diaspora Day Celebrations which customarily deserves pomp and glamour, but will be marked solemnly due to the global health challenge threatening the world- the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As you know, the Diaspora forms an integral part of a nation; host or homeland but more importantly to the country of origin. This reason alone forms the basis to set aside a day to applaud our diasporas and dialogue issues affecting the diaspora. Nigeria cherishes and lauds the efforts of all her diasporas worldwide that a Commission was established to ‘engage and utilise the human, capital and material resources of this demography in the socio-economic, cultural and political development of Nigeria’.

Since its commencement, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has in the last year made some commendable achievements, if I must say so myself. Some of the key ones are:

2.1. EVACUATION INTERVENTIONS:
Following series of interventions to ameliorate attacks on black Africans in South Africa including Nigerians, the Commission received the first and second batches of stranded Nigerians back home in Lagos on Sept. 11, 2019 and Sept. 18, 2019. A total of 501 returnees consisting of 187 and 314 Nigerians respectively. They received SIM Cards worth of N40,000 airtime plus 9GB of data valid for two months, as well as, a soft loan from the Bank of Industry to support those interested in small trade and businesses. While a programme of re-integration has been put in place with the support of some NGOs and their respective states of origin which had been written by NiDCOM after the returnees had been profiled for necessary assistance.

Currently, as COVID-19 is still on rampage, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions around the world have evacuated and still evacuating stranded Nigerians anywhere in the world. This is an update of the evacuation so far:

US – 3 batches – 806
UK. 3 batches. – 831
Saudi Arabia. – 117
Cairo, Egypt – 372
France – 70
India. 3 batches – 540
UAE Dubai. 5 batches – 1,405
Turkey 2 batches. – 324
Sudan 3 batches. 365
Uganda & Kenya – 172
Senegal – 17
Pakistan – 56
Egypt – 102
China. – 268
Malaysia&Thailand 247
Lebanon – 147
Canada. – 51
South Africa – 324
Ghana- 205,
Total: 6,317

And other African Countries with the support of Air Peace Nigeria Ltd, there has been multiple evacuations from some countries.

2.2. STATE DIASPORA FOCAL POINT OFFICERS’ MEETING:
In February this year, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission inaugurated the State Focal Point Officers’ Meeting which had representatives from 27 states out of the 36 states in Nigeria and the FCT, as well as the other International Bodies to dialogue and strategise  on the way forward for diaspora engagements at the grassroots.

2.3. NDIS EVENTS:
We all can attest to the fact that the diaspora is the strong cord that binds us all. According to the UN during this year’s International Day of Family Remittances, this group is estimated at “over 200 million migrants who cater to the needs of 800 millions family members at home, who are mostly rural dwellers, in terms of feeding, healthcare and education”. In 2018, Nigeria realised $25 billion in diaspora remittances, as the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) predicted that Nigerian diaspora remittances will be at US$25.5 billion, US$29.8 billion and US$34.8 for 2019, 2021 and 2023 respectively. The 2019 which is the second edition had over 400 participants in attendance, from different walks of life, to discuss how diaspora remittances and resources can be used in leveraging the economy in the country.

2.4. DIASPORA ACCOLADES:
It brings me joy to note the breakthroughs, achievements and record-breaking feats achieved by Nigerians, just last week President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Prof. Charles Egbu, First Black person to be appointed Vice Chancellor of a ranking University in the UK and also Dr. Ikenna Nweke who returned a wallet with huge sums of money and a Credit Card to Japanese Police, Mrs. Olasunmbo Iginla-Aina, award Recipient of a member of the British Empire, Dr. Olagunju Ogunbiyi a foremost Surgeon, Anthony Joshua, World Boxing Heavyweight Champion, Karamu Usman UWC Defending Champion and late Toyin Salau to mention but a few, for example are proving to the world that Nigerians are focused, determined, caring, kind, friendly, brave, Intelligent, enterprising, creative and are passionate for all things humanity. They are rewriting the Nigerian story for the better.

2.5. RESCUE/INTERVENTIONS:
The likes of Zainab Aliyu, Mr. Ibrahim Ibrahim( Saudi Arabia) Busari(Oman) Chinedu and Uchenna(Bosnia) John Adam’s Smart(Kenya) and a host of others are testimonies  of efforts NiDCOM has done to save its citizens implicated with crimes or maltreated in their host countries.

2.6. DONATIONS:
Many organisations and well-meaning Nigerians have reached out to fight good causes, through kind gestures for the Nigerian diaspora especially during this Pandemic with over #50 million Naira Donations and vice versa. As I had mentioned earlier, the initial SA returnees were given SIM Cards worth of N40,000 airtime plus 9GB of data valid for two months. In the same stance, an anonymous woman and two-time cancer survivour, donated her one-month salary, to the children of the South-African Nigerian returnees. In another case, a COVID-19 Palliative Fund is opened and still on during this COVID-19 Pandemic, for the cause.
Also, a donation of hand sanitisers worth N5million by Nigerian citizens in China to the Federal Government, was received by the Commission. Food donations, plus, face masks done by the Nigerian in Diaspora Organisation of the Americas (NIDOA, NIDO Americas), cushion the plights of many Nigerians, who had no means of feeding and worse still, have probably lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

2.7. BADAGRY DOOR OF RETURN CEREMONY:
The Commission in conjunction with some private sector NGOs held the third in the series of Diaspora Door of Return in Badagry in Lagos from October 15 to 20, 2019 where the Diasporas made a pilgrimage to their motherland, reminiscing of the slaves’ trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. It affords them a spiritual, moral, social, economic and cultural reconnection.

3.0.  CONCLUSION: This is the 2nd National Diaspora Day Celebrations NIDCOM will be marking since NIDCOM’S establishment a year ago and the 15th Edition after its commencement in 2006.Our efforts alone, couldn’t have been feasible without the help of the Federal Government and most importantly, the Diaspora. You make it happen. I look forward to a productive celebration, although lowkey and its happening virtually through a webinar, the new normal.

4.0.  Thank you all

HON. ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA
CHAIRMAN/CEO,
NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA COMMISSION (NIDCOM),
ABUJA.
21ST JULY, 2020.

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