The Nigerian Diaspora Day kicked off in Abuja today. The annual event brings together Nigerians resident abroad and representatives of the federal government and its agencies to discuss areas of partnership in national development.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on the eve of the Diaspora Day, leaders of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, NIDO, said that the issue corruption is affecting Nigeria’s image and economy.
Addressing journalists at the weekend, NIDO’s principal officers, including Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, Continental chairman, NIDO Europe; Barrister Samuel Gbenga Adewusi, Continental chairman, NIDO Americas; Dr Victor Njinmah, Chairman Board of Trustees, NIDO Germany; and Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda, Local Organising Committee of Diaspora Day 2017, said they had decided to address the menace of corruption in line with the anti-corruption stance of the federal government.
Hon. Gbandi said it was important to correct the growing impression that all Nigerians were corrupt. “We can’t paint white black just for some people to be happy,” he cautioned. “Is there corruption in Nigeria? Absolutely. One leader once said that we have corruption in Nigeria but Nigeria is not corruption and you cannot say that every Nigerian or Nigeria as a nation is corrupt. We have some people here. But I think we have different laws to deal with corrupt people in Nigeria.”
Gbandi explained that the popular perception in the international community that Nigeria was corrupt was having an adverse effect not only on its image but also discourages foreign investment in its economy.
“We want to begin to change those perceptions about Nigeria being a corrupt country. I can tell you that most of the reforms in Nigeria actually are from the Diaspora,” he said.
The Hamburg, Germany-based media entrepreneur, communal politician and development consultant, also dwelled on how Nigerians abroad were having a positive impact on the country. “It wasn’t until 2015 that we decided that NIDO has to tell its own stories so that people will know what NIDO has done and continues to do,” he continued.
“Apart from the fact that NIDO comprised professional groups of people all over world – Asia, Africa, US and Europe, what we have is that the brain power within NIDO cannot be over emphasized. We are talking about serious technology transfer that is going on behind the scenes that many Nigerians don’t know of,” he explained.
The theme of Diaspora Day 2017, which takes place on 25-26 July, is “Promoting Diaspora Participation and Engagement for National Development”.
According to Gbandi, the 2017 Diaspora Day will also focus on how the government can create an enabling environment for the Nigerian Diaspora to contribute to national development. He emphasized that only when the conditions are right can the Diaspora make meaningful contributions.
“At our last Project Meeting in Dortmund, NIDOE members presented different trade and investment plans which if realized will help Nigeria move forward,” Gbandi added. He is confident that the 2017 Day will be a huge success as the indications from Abuja are that the present federal government is very interested in tapping the potential of the Diaspora in its efforts to rejuvenate the country’s economy.