With the recent turn of events around the world, the relevance of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Establishment Bill signed into law on June 30, 2017 by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the Acting President, has continued to be justified.
As expected of any sample population, these Nigerians are showing their true colours – the good, the bad and ugly. It is estimated that over 15 million Nigerians live outside the country’s boundaries, particularly in the Western world (Europe and America). On the good side, Nigerians have been cited as the most educated immigrant group in the West, having signed their golden signatures across the professions due to their high education quotient.
It is also established that Nigerians remit at least $23 billion (N8.3 trillion) into our local economy annually, which is at least 80 per cent of the 2020 Federal budget presented to the National Assembly last week Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari. Besides, our students and professionals are breaking old records and setting new ones in all fields of knowledge and human endeavour. If we can find a way to link up productively with this group as the Indians do, Nigeria’s development will be greatly boosted.
On the other side are those who are giving Nigeria a bad name; those who have made the Nigerian passport highly suspect. These are the fraudsters, crooks, drug dealers, human traffickers and gangsters. They are also giving their foreign counterparts a big run for their money, to the detriment of our national image.
Thousands of Nigerians are languishing in foreign jail houses, and many are on death row. In many African countries (especially South Africa) Nigerians are regularly targeted for xenophobic violence and hostile attitudes by indigenes and law enforcement agencies.
The failure of our numerous embassies and high commissions to connect with the needs of both segments of our Diaspora communities makes the establishment of NIDCOM a welcome idea.
By its core mandate, NIDCOM is to connect directly with the Nigerian Diaspora Organisations, NIDOs, worldwide and advise governments at all levels on the best ways to get the best out of Nigerians living abroad while proffering solutions that will minimise the impacts of the bad eggs.
In doing its work, the NIDCOM must see all Nigerians living abroad – the good and bad ones – as Nigerians first and foremost. The blunder of ethnic profiling committed by some top officials of NIDCOM when some Nigerian criminals were apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, FBI, must not be repeated because it widened our ethnic divisions.
The Nigerian Diaspora communities are more united than their home-based counterparts and this must be encouraged and emulated.
The blunder notwithstanding, NIDCOM must ramp up efforts to build a productive bridge to our Diaspora communities.