That individuals and organisations registered and unregistered, often not more than a handful of well-connected persons, have constituted nuisance in Nigerian Diaspora affairs, is not new. That these individuals and groups continue to undermine the establishment of NIDO to provide coherence in galvanising Diaspora input in national development often with active support of government officials, is not new either. That they have carried on with these nefarious activities with or without the tactical approval of NIDCOM, is taking it to another level. This has got to be addressed. I am honestly speechless and surprised that these individuals and group under different registered and non-registered Diaspora organizations are now running the diaspora community policies or pretending to be running it with or without the tactical approval of NIDCOM with impunity.
We can no longer continue to pretend that all is well, hoping that this will soon go away. Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, the official organization facilitated by the Federal Government of Nigeria to represent the interests of all Nigerians in the Diaspora including NIDO Americas, NIDO Europe, NIDO Asia, NIDO Oceania and NIDO Africa as continental organizations is an act of parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Official Gazette No. 67, Vol.104, NIDCOM Act. So, it will be a total waste of my time to pretend to engage in any form of debate about the role of NIDO as defined by NIDCOM ACT in this write up or thereafter.
The role of NIDO as enshrined in NIDCOM ACT is non-negotiable, not after many years of conferences and brainstorming to meticulously craft the NIDCOM ACT. Any such debate should be left for those doubting Thomases who pretend to speak for or on behalf of the leadership of NIDOCOM and NIDO but have not taken out time to read the 15 pages double-spaced NIDCOM ACT. At least, all they need to do is refer to article 2. (1) a-(i-iii), article 2. b (i-ii) and C (i-vi). They should also pay extra attention to article 3 and article 8 (d), (g) and (h). It is becoming fruitless and irritating to engage in this never-ending NIDCOM-NIDO diversionary debates that is doing nobody any good.
Many NIDO veterans and Diaspora stakeholders have been asking legitimate questions on why NIDCOM Board is yet to be constituted in line with its establishing act almost a year after signing it into law and appointing the Commission´s Chairman? Others wonder whether it is even legal in the first place for the Commission to be operating with a deficit in Board positions almost a year after. How come the gazetted role assigned to NIDO in the NIDCOM structure is yet to be consummated? Was it just a fancy exercise for NIDO to have been assigned Board positions in NIDCOM?
The answers to these questions are of course obvious for anybody interested in due process and transparency. NIDO was assigned Board positions in NIDCOM, in part to check the sort of excesses where individuals with connections in high places will hijack Diaspora policies for activities that is not designed in the long interest of the Diaspora and Nigeria, which as a matter of fact is currently happening at an alarming rate. We now only read about or see flyers about Diaspora conferences and townhall meetings of all Diaspora with NIDCOM Chairman only on social media and communique therefore also on pages of Newspapers and on social media. No this is not proper and against the spirit of NIDCOM ACT. All good Diaspora are now called on to speak out.
It is no longer convenient for Mr. President, the Vice President who is a distinguished Professor of Law, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairs National Assembly Committee(s) on Diaspora Matters, Attorney General of the Federation or the Chairman of NIDCOM to close their eyes to this potential troublesome development at the border of illegality. As we face the global economic meltdown and the potential roles of the Diaspora in the post Covid-19 national development, it would be a shame if this matter is allowed to escalate to the extent that the diaspora as a group would resort to legal interpretations of NIDCOM ACT. On the contrary, this is the time for the long anticipated NIDO leadership to provide coherence in galvanising Diaspora input in national development as envisage in NIDCOM Act.
NIDCOM needs organized Diaspora as much as the Diaspora needs a legally constituted NIDCOM. NIDO from inception already enshrined in its constitutions cooperate membership, giving room for inclusiveness of all diaspora organisations to participate in the affairs of NIDO and homeland development. Even at that, there is the ongoing Nigerians in Diaspora Organizations Strategic Assembly that comprises the leaders of NIDO and legally and registered Diaspora organizations to brainstorm on Diaspora and national issues as it concerns homeland development. Although the initiative is at its early development, it demonstrates that the leadership of NIDO recognizes the need for all-inclusive coherence platform for galvanising the Diaspora for homeland development and the least for those in government can do is to support and encourage such development and not encourage individuals and organisations registered and unregistered to continue to constitute nuisance in Nigerian Diaspora affairs.
I have therefore decided to dedicate my remaining time in office without any compromise to advocate for the constitution of NIDCOM Board. Although the Board of Trustees (BOT) of NIDO Europe did graciously, duly and democratically nominated me to NIDCOM Board in line with NIDCOM ACT, I have decided to withdraw my nomination and will no longer be available for any NIDCOM Board membership. This will enable me to dedicate my time for this important advocacy without being accused of a vested interest.
Hon. Kenneth Gbandi (M.P.S., U.P.A), Chairman Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE)