•Excitement as NIDO inaugurates body in Beijing
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) was recently inaugurated in the Chinese capital, Beijing.
The event attracted government officials and prominent Nigerians, including the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri; chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Rita Orji; Shanghai Consular-General, Anderson Madubuike; Deputy Ambassador of Nigeria in China, Bakori Aliyu Usman; and former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who delivered the keynote address.
The event, facilitated by the Nigerian Embassy in China in conjunction with NIDO, was aimed at bridging the gap between the Nigerian government and its citizens in the diaspora and to strengthen ties between the two nations. Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, CEO, Blue Diamond Logistics, China, was decorated as the head of NIDO in Guangzhou Province.
In his acceptance speech, Mbisiogu, thanked the organisers, especially the coordinator of NIDO, Mr. Bryan Akiri, for the honour. He said the province was strategic in Nigeria-China bilateral ties, as over 20,000 Nigerians live in Guangzhou. He added that the aim of the organisation was to harness the potential of Nigerian professionals and non-professionals alike in all parts of the world for national development, with the promise to work closely with the Nigerian embassy and other stakeholders to strengthen ties between Nigeria and China and to help reduce the involvement of some Nigerians in crime and illicit businesses.
Mbisiogu commended the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for supporting NIDO since its formation. He urged the government and the Nigerian Embassy to help organise a town hall meeting, as it would discourage Nigerians from indulging in crime and illicit trade.
In his keynote address: “Role of Diaspora in National Development and Bilateral Relationship,” Dr. Kalu said each time he visits China, he sees something different. He said China has taught him that there is nothing that humans cannot achieve so long as they are focused.
He described himself as a fellow of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, since he spends a lot of time shuttling between Nigeria and overseas countries to address issues of business, politics and community development.
Kalu said he was not at the event to lament the pathetic situation in Nigeria, noting that he was there to share views with Nigerians in the diaspora, enjoy their company and draw more ideas for the development of country. He traced the exodus of Nigerians to other countries to the late 1980s, which led to the creation of a television advert, “Andrew don’t check out,” aired on national television. He said, at the time, life had become difficult like Thomas Hobbes described it, “nasty, brutish and short.”
Kalu said he remained confident that Nigeria would still be better. But he said life had indeed been hard in Nigeria for decades, causing Nigerians to begin venturing out to other countries, including China, in search of a better life.
He said he was always amazed at the diversity of the Chinese nation and the opportunities therein, and urged Nigerians in Asia to learn from China. He expressed support for NIDO, saying many of its members returned to Nigeria better than they left the country.
According to the former governor, the migration of Nigerians to other lands gave birth to NIDO, and what began like an unserious gathering of a few individuals had metamorphosed to a very powerful organisation of Nigerians across all continents.
He recalled that NIDO was formed as development partners for Nigeria during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo with chapters in almost all countries of Europe, America and Asia; so far, members of NIDO have proved themselves valuable in helping government at different levels to drive development.
Kalu stated that NIDO was an official platform by which individual Nigerians outside their community organisations and corporate bodies could channel their developmental efforts to Nigeria as well as focus on areas such as foreign direct investment.
“NIDO is also involved in professional networking, stakeholders’ advocacy, medical missions, educational support and skill transfer to Nigeria. The partnership between Nigeria’s federal government and NIDO has created openings for Nigeria to access NIDO’s human capital resources, through which many Nigerian professionals have been recruited into leadership at different levels. Some have served as ministers, commissioners, local government chairmen, and even special advisers to both the federal and state governments. NIDO Europe provides the unique opportunity for Nigerians living in Europe to learn to work and collaborate with one another in the task of nation-building. The organisation strongly believes that Nigerians in Europe can make significant contributions towards Nigeria through programmes, policies and advocacy to harness their talents, expertise and resources for Nigeria’s development and nation-building,” Kalu said.
Dabiri, in her speech, commended the leaders of NIDO for their patriotism and for promoting peace and cooperation between Nigeria and China. She noted that Nigerians abroad remitted over N23 billion to the country last year.
On his part, Akiri, appealed for more government support for the organisation. He pleaded with Nigerians in Diapora to be law-abiding, so as to help change the country’s negative image. He said NIDO would always work to promote a positive business climate between Nigeria and other countries.