Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the few Nigerians abroad indulging in criminal activities do not represent the values of the majority of the people in the country.
The President reiterated that his administration will not condone any crime whether at home or abroad, stressing that Nigerians reject being defined as a people with a reputation for criminality.
The President said this on Thursday in Yokohama, Japan, when he met with leaders of the Nigerian Community living in Japan on the sidelines of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7).
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement quoted Buhari as saying: “Let me also say that there are few Nigerians in the Diaspora that are giving us a bad name by engaging in criminal activities. These Nigerians are a minority, they do not represent the values of our country, and I plead with them to change their ways.
“We will not condone any crime whether at home or abroad, and we will also not allow these Nigerians define us as a people with reputation for criminality.”
President Buhari urged Nigerians in Japan to be good ambassadors of the country, saying “I am personally very happy that there are millions of Nigerians all over the world, like you here, who are truly making us proud.”
Buhari, who described the majority of the over 17 million Nigerians in living abroad, as “the face of Nigeria globally and our ambassadors for good,” noted that “Many of our Diasporans, like your good selves here today, have excelled in varying fields of endeavor, both professionally and individually.
“You have also made significant and overwhelmingly positive contributions to your Nigerian and international host communities. You have continually been a positive bridge between Nigeria and the world. It is not an easy feat and we commend you, salute your courage and efforts.”
Buhari noted that “Japan is at the cutting edge of technology and efficiency, two very important attributes that can play a role in Nigeria and improve our capacity for development.”
The President urged Nigerians in Japan to continue to contribute their quota by helping to develop their host country and Nigeria as well, adding: “I look forward to your inborn gift, ability, and capacity in taking up this challenge.”
Commending many of them who are already “positively impacting the Nigerian economy through financial home remittances, promoting international trade in Nigerian commodities, our music, culture, tourism, sports, and education, while also helping to establish industries in Nigeria,” the President urged them “to encourage legitimate Japanese entrepreneurs to come and invest in Nigeria.”
According to him, “We are continually working to create the necessary enabling environment for investors to thrive, through improvements in our Ease of Doing Business practices, providing security, diversification of the economy, infrastructure and fighting corruption.”
He further assured them that, “We have put in place the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG) to put the country on a path of sustained recovery and growth.”
President Buhari, explaining the rationale for his regular meetings with Nigerians abroad and the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, said: “As you are aware, I have regularly held town hall meetings with Nigerians in the Diaspora on all my foreign engagements be they in Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
“At these fora, I have always, appealed to our citizens to be our good ambassadors, observe the laws of your host countries, excel in whatever you do legitimately, and also remember us at home (Nigeria). I have established the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission specifically to engage with you, signifying a coordinated attempt by our administration to increase the involvement of our Diaspora in our national development.
“Collectively, your resources, skills, and talents will be a positive force for our country which can help accelerate our national growth and development.”
President Buhari’s meeting with Nigerians in Diaspora, coordinated by Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairperson, Diaspora Commission, who described the President as “the most Diaspora-friendly leader we have had in Nigeria,” witnessed a parade of the brightest and best of our citizens plying their trade in Japan. They included academics, industrialists, top businessmen, scientists, economists, and many others.
Professor Ejiogu Emenike, President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Asia (NIDOASIA), and an energy expert, commended President Buhari for his leadership, and disclosed that NIDOASIA members have “comparative advantages in human capital development which we are trying to bring back to Nigeria.”
He added: “Any problem that science and technology can solve we are able to, and we can help Nigeria in areas of need.”
Engineer Ochade Osakwe, Chairman, Nigeria/Japan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, recounted businesses that have been attracted to Nigeria in recent times, promising to do more as the security and investment climates back home improved further.
Mr Nnaji Fintan, President, Nigerian Union in Japan, asked for more exploits in the areas of education, quality infrastructure and security, which are focal points of the Buhari administration.