Why I joined ADC and why Coalition of Notable Nigerians in Diaspora teamed up for project “Mission Nigeria Rescue”
According to Hon. Kenneth Chibuogwu Gbandi, the newly appointed Deputy National Chairman, Diaspora Engagement of African Democratic Congress, the involvement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the social-political transformation of Nigeria has now become an SOS call for Nigerians is diaspora to team up with our credible compatriots in Nigeria to execute “Mission Nigeria Rescue” to salvage the sinking ship of a great nation Nigeria.
Below is part of Hon. Kenneth Chibuogwu Gbandi’s intervention note during the ADC-DN 1st Global Roundtable (FGR) on the 12/12/2020.
Dear Distinguished Senator Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki Deputy Chairperson ADC BOT and Chairman of the occasion, dear distinguished Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu Chairman, National Chairman African Democratic Congress of Nigeria, dear distinguished Prof. Pat Utomi, Founder of Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) and our Keynote speaker, dear distinguished speakers, ADC-DN continental chairperson, Diaspora compatriots from the 5 continents of the Globe and friends of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is an honour and privilege to address you. We thank the visionary leadership of ADC for considering the Diaspora an important stakeholder and have gone beyond the usual Nigerian lip services by structurally integrating Nigerians in Diaspora as the 7th geopolitical zone of the party.
A constituency that has kept a country alive, saving it from multiple bankruptcy through its $19.7 billion and $22 billion in 2016 and 2017 respectively, which were higher than the $10.4 billion and $13.4 billion garnered from oil exports, the main export of the country in the same period cannot simply remain passive in the fundamental obligation in determining who governs them and the country at large. If the diaspora remittances are crucial for the sustenance of the Nigerian economy and our folks, our voices and our votes are equally as crucial, if not most crucial for sustaining project Nigeria, democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
The reason for this emergency call is obvious: Political corruption, criminal insurgency, kidnapping, terrorism, poverty, unemployment, and dearth of infrastructure have become permanent features of our polity as of today. The Nigerian youths who could no longer fold their hands as their future is being stolen before their very eyes fired the final salvo with ENDSARS Movement. We will be betraying the Youths and the Nigerian dream if we fail to heed to this clarion call Now and join hands with them to salvage the sinking ship of our great Nation.
The entire fabric of the Nigerian nation is in great turmoil and collapsing before our very own eyes. The hashtag poverty capital of the world is demeaning to all hard-working Nigerians, especially Nigerians in Diaspora. Irrespective of our personal comfort, professional accomplishment and sophistication and the development any of us enjoys in any part of the globe we live in today, we are still associated with these negative hashtags all over the globe. Restoration of the glory of Nigeria is a patriotic and scared duty that we must all pledge today to undertake. The Journey will be hard and stormy, but Nigerians are known to excel when the going gets tough. ‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it.’ According to Franz Fanon, we will not betray this call of the century.
According to Prof. Anyanwu: The increasing recognition of the importance of the Diaspora and commitment to African Diaspora saw the successful hosting of FESTAC in 1977. Unfortunately, no serious move was taken beyond this show off and the vague appeals for the integration of the Diaspora. The exodus of Nigerian professionals to foreign countries was exponential, because of the harsh monetary and economic policies of the repressive Military regimes under Muhamadu Buhari (1971 – 1983) and later under Sani Abacha (1993-1998). He went further to write that President Olusegun Obasanjo rekindled the Diaspora spirit with Nigerians in Diaspora initiative worldwide in 2001 and the supporting instrument like Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS) which was enacted in 2003, he concluded:
Since this time, the Diaspora have been operating on hope with the Annual Diaspora pilgrimage in the form of Nigerian Diaspora Day, engaging with all the stakeholders in search of homeland socio-economic and political development in a one-step forwards and 10 steps backwards.
Let us recall that the Organization of African Unity (AOU) now African Union (AU) took inspiration from Nigeria and its Diaspora by recognizing the need to build sustainable partnerships between the African continent and the African Diaspora through sustainable dialogue and effective collaboration with governments and peoples of different regions of the World in which the Diaspora populations are located. In an Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) of February 3rd 2003 which, in a new Article 3 (q), acknowledges the need to “invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora, as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union” by declaring the Diaspora as the sixth region of the African Union.
On the 12th September 2007, in Paris, the main activities for the African Union African Diaspora (AUAD Sixth region) for short, kicked off its mobilization activities with no other person than one of the architects of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Ambassador Joe Keshi, who gave one of the keynote addresses. I was privilege to share this international stage with one of the fathers of Nigerians in Diaspora and give a presentation on Diaspora and the role of the Media. Unfortunately, while Africa took a clue and a giant step on the integration of its Diaspora and has gone ahead to fully integrate the Diaspora, socially, politically and economically, Nigeria is still paying lip services to the full integration of its Diaspora population, despite praising and celebrating the huge Nigerian Diaspora remittances.
During my manifesto for the Chairmanship position of NIDOE in 2016 in Athens, Greece, I called on the Federal Government to follow the example of the African union and recognize Nigerians in Diaspora as the 37th State of the federation in terms of politico-structural importance and to urgently establish the Nigerian Diaspora Commission. As an elected Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization of the continent of Europe, we hosted series of discussions on how the political parties could integrate the Diaspora into their active in the economic and political development of Nigeria, irrespective of the barriers of physical distance. We invited all the active political parties during the First NIDOE Global Conference 2016 in UK, followed by NIDOE annual AGM 2018 in Austria and finally during the Global Conference in the Netherlands in 2019. Sadly, the lukewarm attitude exhibited by some political parties simply reflects the same lukewarm attitude of Federal Government towards its Diaspora.
The closest the Diaspora came to, was the signing of the Diaspora Commission Bill into law on March 30, 2017, following the NIDO Worldwide Leadership delegation for the final push for the passage of the NIDCOM Bill on February 26th 2017. Luckily, The 8th National Assembly under the leadership of the Distinguished Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and House Speaker Honorable Dogara Yakubu following the great work and policy articulation of the then Chairman House Committee on Diaspora Matters, Hon. Rita Orji, supported by Senator Rose Okoh of Blessed memory finally saw the passage of the Diaspora Commission Bill on March 30, 2017 after many years in limbo. This was one of the remarkable feats by the 8th National towards the Nigeria Diaspora, especially, after the delegation of NIDO Leadership were promised the passage of the Diaspora Commission Bill before April 2017. The 8th NASS kept its promise to the Diaspora.
The assent to the NIDCOM Bill, in 2017 by then Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osibanjo was greeted with great expectations and optimism. Sadly, this was to be short lived! One year after, the same Diaspora that gallantly advocated for the establishment of NIDCOM are termed beggars and charlatans for demanding due process and the rule of law in establishment of NIDCOM Board. NIDCOM is no doubt fast becoming another failed Nigerian Agency, where a One-Man Board held sway with no accountability, and all the supervisory agencies had all gone on long vacation. We now found ourselves in a situation where individuals sustained with tax payers money could simply walk away from the National Television debate on the state of NIDCOM and the Diaspora simply for asking the hard questions, and till date no outrage from the Media and the Diaspora. But this is just an example of Nigeria of today where daily massacre of innocent souls and banditry is no longer news or new.
There is however light at the end of the tunnel and we are extremely happy that in line with the long overdue aspirations and expectations of Nigerians in Diaspora, and in line with the deceleration of the Diaspora as the sixth Region of African by AU, and coincidentally, African Democratic Congress (ADC) have extended the party´s geopolitical zone to include Nigerians in Diaspora, which is now the 7th geopolitical zone of the party with all the constitutional powers that are applicable to the 6 zones within the country. This is historic by all accounts in Nigeria towards its over 20 Million Diaspora and in full preparation of Diaspora voting come 2023. This historic move from a political establishment towards Nigerians in Diaspora and the need to join hands to rescue the sinking ship of our nation, compelled the Coalition of Notable Nigerians in Diaspora to teamed up for project “Mission Nigeria Rescue” and there will be no stopping us.
ADC Diaspora Network (ADC-DN) 7th Zone includes Nigerians in diaspora in the five continents of the world; ADC-DN Africa, Americas, Asia and Middle East, Europe and Oceania and Pacific Region which is now fully constituted to help in rejigging our democracy and country, joining hands with patriots at home. We must all engage in the most fundamental aspects of the democratic system, including but not limited to party building; creating endearing philosophy, values and strategies, good governance and leadership accountability and this is where the Diaspora will bring in added value.
As the new Deputy National Chairman, Diaspora Engagement of African Democratic Congress, I would like to inform my Diaspora Compatriots that, ADC is currently the 3rd largest political party in Nigeria in terms of national spread, and the 4th in elected persons. The creation of ADC 7th zone is possible through visionary leadership by the party to enable it interface properly with Nigerians in Diaspora across the 5 continents of the Globe and to embrace the Brain gain and dynamics and best international practise of the Diaspora which is now an indispensable catalyst in the transformation of our dear country Nigeria. We will be building on, and adding value to ADC peculiar DNA of Responsibility, Transparency, Endurance, Innovation and Inclusion. These are the values shared by majority of the Diaspora.
The coalition of notable Nigerian Diaspora from amongst over 20 million Nigerians from the 5 continents of the World is a clear clarion call that Nigerians in Diaspora are now able ready and willing to team up with credible compatriots in Nigeria to salvage the sinking ship of once the great nation Nigeria. There are over 12,000 elective positions to be filled come 2023 (President & VP, 36 state governors & deputies), 109 senators, 360 house of reps members, over 800 state legislators, nearly 800 local council chairpersons, and nearly 10,000 ward Councillors). Our voice and impact must be felt as we collectively strive for Diaspora Voting 2023, true federalism, meritocracy instead of mediocracy in building up once a great Union.
Long Live ADC
Long Live ADC-DN
Long Live Nigerians in Diaspora
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Hon. Kenneth Chibuogwu Gbandi
Deputy National Chairman, Diaspora Engagement
African Democratic Congress