Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has disclosed that those working with the president right now are not on salaries.
She made the disclosure at the weekend on Channels Television show ‘Hardcopy’, hosted by Mauope Ogun-Yusuf.
When asked to clarify the status of the President’s aides whether it has expired and renewed, she said: “Well, I’m Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission and the President decides on his aides. That is the President’s prerogative, some aides are still functioning but I tell you no aide is collecting any salary.
“So, if the president feels you can still play a role, you can still play the role until it is officially done. What I know is that no Special Adviser or SSA (Senior Special Assistant) is collecting salary. Every aide’s tenure elapsed on May 29th. We are expecting some appointments by President, I really can’t speak on that but I am Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission.”
The Commission’s mandate, she explained, is to establish an accurate database of Nigerians living abroad. “We are talking about 12 million Nigerians in diaspora and this is minus those in in African countries. It is a huge challenge and we will do it,” she said.
On the vision and mission of the Commission, she said, “26 countries have missions for the diaspora but we are having just a commission which is a good start. In Nigeria in particular we have been talking about how enormous our Human Resources are, these are people who remitted $26 billion 2018, $23 billion a year before, so these are population you cannot ignore. So how do we tap into these resources for the good and development of Nigeria. Now we have a commission, if you have a problem now you now where you can go to.
“Early in July we will be coming out with a comprehensive diaspora policy that will guard diaspora engagement and this will come with a strategic document that will help us active the aims and objectives of the policy.
“I believe that the Nigerian diaspora cannot he ignored in fact the entire African diaspora cannot be ignored in the world anymore. It is about human capacity development and we are going to do much more on that.”
Dabiri-Erewa, who also met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, condemned the attack on Nigerians in Kumasi, Ghana, describing it as a xenophobic attack. She further mentioned that the case of a professor sacked over a leaked conversation with some Nigerians is being addressed.
“Of course we have the issue of Ghana, the professor whose appointment was terminated by his university because of the tape he released. Well, it turned out that he didn’t actually record, I mean that was a private meeting with Nigerians in Ghana, it was like a private discussion. And he also claimed that part of the tape was actually doctored. The matter is being looked into by the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana and I believed those matters will be resolved subsequently. But right now we are dealing with the issue of attacking Nigerian traders in Ghana.
“We have the assurances of the President of Ghana through the high commission here and ours in Ghana that Nigerian traders will be protected. So we are also going to be emphasizing that the life of one Nigerian means a lot to us anywhere in the world. And the issues happening around neighbouring countries like Togo. In Togo, we have Nigerians attacked. One woman alleged that she was raped and she turned out to be his girlfriend. We have also seen the Togolese Ambassador and made it clear that the lives of Nigerians must be protected anywhere they are because we take care of others here and we deserve to be taken care of. If a Nigerian commits a crime, let him pay the penalty for it as a punishment, but you cannot penalise a nation and its citizens. So we will be working more on that as we appealed to Nigerians to be good ambassadors wherever they find themselves.”
On the case of Jeffrey Akpovweta Ewohime, 31, who smashed cars at the Nigerian High Commission in London because he could not collect his passport, Dabiri-Erewa said she is planning a stakeholders meeting with the Nigerian community to address challenges.
She said: “We will be having a stakeholders meeting in particular in the UK with the Nigerian community, the High Commission, the immigration, to look at whatever the challenges are so that they can be resolved, because I know that there are some challenges that are resolvable. So, we will be engaging more with the diaspora. Subsequently, we are going to have hotlines for Nigerians in diaspora so that they can contact the commission and we can look into whatever challenges they are facing.”