DIASPORANS NEED TO BE MORE PROACTIVE – HON RITA ORJI

Over 200 Nigerians from all over the UK converged at the Nigerian High Commission on Northumberland Avenue in London for an evening with Hon. Rita. Orji, the  Chairperson of the House Diasporan Affairs Committee.

The meeting was jointly organized by NIDO & NWIDLF and was hosted by the acting Nigerian High Commissioner Amb Simon Ogah.

Highlights of the meeting

Here are some of the main points made by Hon Orji at the meeting.

·Diaspora have great potentials that are not being harnessed
·She wants diasporans to have first refusals on proposals for investment and development in Nigeria over foreigners. In so many cases a cook from another country will come and work as an engineer in Nigeria while highly qualified Nigerian engineers are working as cab drivers in other countries.
·Diasporans should sponsor an amendment’s to the Diasporan Vote Bill instead of just asking for it.
·Diasporans hold great power both in finance amounting to billions of dollars annually remitted to the Nigerian economy and in skills and knowledge acquired during years of living and being exposed to advances in the West and these should give us seats at the table of governance
·Disporans with ideas should address their issues (grievances, ideas and suggestions) directly to house committee and not to PAs and SSAs who will either bin them in favour of more influential lobbyists or pass the ideas to close cronies to pass off as their own .

·On the issue of deportation, Hon Orji said Nigerians should not force themselves to live where they are tolerated or not wanted. Nigerians overstaying or staying illegally put themselves in embarrassing situations of enforced deportation.

She said if your papers are out of order, have them regulated or simply go back home but don’t wait till you are threatened with deportation before you start seeking help.  It is not the duty of the Nigerian Government or the High Commission to intervene. She added that the UK government is under NO obligation to show favours to any-one staying illegally just because they are Nigerian. Also, Nigerians are not the only illegals being deported.

In her capacity as Diasporans spokespersons, she constantly travels to countries and areas where there are reported cases of maltreatment or human rights contravention against Nigerians but this she can only do if these are brought directly to her attention.

·On the issue of voting, one of the reasons diasporans cannot vote is because there is no data showing the number of eligible voters.

·She admonished diasporans to use their money wisely and be more proactive. Rather than wait for things they want to be handed to them , she suggested diasporans take action towards going out and doing what it takes to make things happen.

Also to ensure that they get adequate media coverage when they come to Nigeria with projects and initiatives so people back home can see that diasporans don’t just come to seek contracts, they also put back in the community.
·Diasporans should not only take their initiatives to posh areas inhabited by former diasporans who will not appreciate what we have to offer. Such projects should be taken to the inner city and under privileged neighbourhoods where local youth can be both mentored, empowered and also followed up.
·Lastly she said that the Diaspora Commission is being established and it aims to be fully available to cater for the needs of disporans and to look into issues such as granting assistance to diasporans seeking to return home and those who are coming home to organise community focused events or other initiatives.

 

At the meeting, the acting High Commissioner Amb Simon Ogah, addressed the ongoing fiasco regarding the issuance of 32 page passports to Nigerians who had applied and paid for the 65 page ones.

He said that everyone who recently applied were informed of the non availability of the 64 page passports when the consular ran out. According to him those who could,  were adviced to wait until such a time as when they would be available again.  He laid the blame squarely at the door of those who raised this issue for failing to read  notices that he claimed were posted on the entrance doors of the Consulate office, informing them of the situation  – even though this warning was not posted online at the point of payment. In a voice that was more patronising than conciliatory, Mr Ogah said his office is already doing more than his office is mandated to do for Nigerians in the UK and his office is not just there to issue passports.  He listed some of the number of important UK state events he regularly has to attend but made it clear that dealing with Nigerians in the UK is a great problem for his office.

 

 

 

By Jummy Ariyo

Pictures by DiasporaPR

 

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