The Presidency is set to partner with the National Assembly on a new policy to cater for the needs and inclusiveness of Nigerians in Diaspora.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the senior special assistant to the president on Diaspora and Foreign Relations gave this cheering news when she led a delegation to visit Senator Rose Oko, the chairman, Senate committee on Diaspora, in Abuja on Tuesday, March 15.
The Ikorodu-born former lawmaker said that the potentials of Nigerians in the diaspora could not be effectively harnessed without a Diaspora policy and a commission to carter for those of them in the Diaspora.
She said: “we must have a Diapora Policy as soon as possible, Nigeria does not have Diaspora policy, so the first thing we would be doing is crafting a Diaspora policy. “We will be working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the House and Senate Committee on Diaspora to craft this policy on Diaspora matters. “This policy would be like a thrust for every other thing that we are going to do and work on that will start very soon, we are going to get every Nigerian in the diaspora to contribute to the policy. “Without the policy we cannot do anything so that is very critical, and of course the Diaspora Commission Bill is also very critical.”
The vastly-experienced former broadcaster recalled that the bill to create a Diaspora Commission was passed by the 7th Assembly but was not assented to. She therefore urged the 8th National Assembly to revisit the bill, adding that with the policy and the commission, it would be important to have a database of Nigerians in the Diaspora with a view to reaping good benefits from them.
According to her: “There is no better time to have Nigerians in Diapora collaborating to get the best for Nigeria. “The issue of Diaspora voting is also important but that would depend on the National Assembly if they decide to amend the constitution to make this possible. “Perhaps the economic survival of Nigeria could depend a lot on the Nigerians in the Diaspora, if they were able to remit $21 billion in 2014 they can be able to do more.
“President Buhari is willing that is why for the first time he has an SSA on Diaspora, we have a committee in the Senate, we have a committee in the House. “We have committed Nigerians in the diaspora who are contributing to the World economy so we have no excuse not to tap into this enormous human resource. “Because of its importance, 26 countries have formed ministries for the diaspora, we should not let other countries beat us to it because ours is part of the largest population.”
Senator Oko, while reacting to the ex-lawmaker, noted that the Senate was committed to passing the bill establishing the Diaspora Commission adding that it had already scaled first reading in the Senate. “We will work with you and also with Nigerians in the Diaspora to look at how we can get Foreign Direct Investments from Nigerians in the Diaspora. “The issue of Diaspora Commission would be addressed by this Senate, we would also look at the Policy on diaspora and make our contributions too,” she said.
Personally, this looks like Mrs Dabiri-Erewa is more interested in the billions of foreign exchange that is annually ploughed into the economy by diasporans but painfully little about getting real and solid benefits for diasporans or help for those returning home to invest or settle.
The current Fiasco in the UK Nigerian High Commission is a good example.
In a scenario typical of the usual atrocious service metted out to Nigerian clients of the NHC, Nigerians applying and paying for new 64.page passports have turned up to pick them up only to be given 32 page passports with no offers or promise of refunds.
So far, no.official statement has been issued to explain or address the development. But this unfortunately is the type of treatment Diasporans have come to expect from our government.