Nigerians In Diaspora (NiD) are citizens who are now, mostly by choice, residents of other countries in various parts of the world where they have gone and, in some cases, already formed recognisable communities. The varying numbers of such people in their various countries of residence and the quality of their multi-faceted contributions to the development of those places are such that have constituted a source of pride for Nigeria.
Most of them are, in fact, looked up to as role models from whom a lot of the Nigerian youths have continued to draw inspiration and also as reliable assets in terms of expertise in the various aspects of human and national development to which Nigeria can turn at the time of need. By virtue of the rare knowledge and experiences they have acquired in other climes, the NiD are precious people whose focus and worldview are, supposedly, broad enough to make them exceptionally resourceful and patriotic citizens.
At several points in time, Nigerians who were so privileged heavily paid their dues to the country as they made huge inputs into most of the efforts towards national development. Having rightly considered themselves as Nigeria’s representatives in their respective countries of residence, a lot of the NiD conducted themselves in a manner that created a positive impression of the country in the minds of their hosts.
Although there has always been some bad eggs amongst them whose behaviours are a dent on the image of country, the NiD are generally considered as people of immense substance who deserve a special attention from the government of Nigeria. Their welfare, rate of progression and aspirations are matters of concern back home which therefore explains the huge curiosity and sensitivity with which issues to do with them are raised, discussed and addressed at various levels.
The creation, by the Federal Government, of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission [NiDCOM] in 2017, which is meant to ensure the, as contained in the act establishing it, “engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the Development of Nigeria” is a practical recognition of the NiD as a critical segment of the country’s citizenry to which utmost concern should be extended. It is now through the Commission which is under the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the government reaches out to those currently living abroad; a strategy that eases the processes of the proper monitoring and effective co-ordination of all NiD affairs.
In this context therefore the insult or assault or any other form of harsh or even violent attack on the Nigerian leaders or some prominent citizens in foreign lands which is fast becoming a dominant habit among some Nigerians living in those places should worry the Commission. The NiDCOM should have, for example, taken exception to the physical assault to which the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwaramadu, was once subjected by his kinsmen who accused him of compromising the so-called interests of the Igbo.
The insult of President Muhammadu Buhari, a few months ago, by some Nigerians in London when he went there for medical treatment and the similar act by the America-based ones when he attended the United Nation General Assembly [UNGA] in New York last month are undeniably the worst of all the embarassing attitudes of the NiD to which the Commission should have been seen to have decisively reacted. All the other such incidents like the harassment of some of the members of the president’s entourage at UNGA and the humiliation of former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Babagana Kingibe, which were all captured in videos and subsequently circulated are full indications of an emerging trend that is inimical to the image of the country.
Having now justifiably considered the attacks on the country’s leaders and the protests against their foreign trips, even if on official assignments, as a terribly disturbing phenomenon, a lot of concerned Nigerians have started seeking to know whether the NiDCOM is, after all, still there or not. The low visibility of the Commission at a time when the particular category of Nigerians with which it should be fully engaged is involved in a matter that borders on the image of the whole country has already created doubt over the effectiveness of the NiDCOM.
Gradually, the assumption that the Commissions has an in-built mechanism for connection with Nigerians in other countries and the expectation that it would consider the hostility being extended to the highly-placed citizens in foreign lands as the basic reason for it to act as well as the belief that it is committed to its assignment are all giving way to the apprehension over its willingness to perform. The more such incidents occur, the more NiDCOM’s performances are subjected to interrogation.
Although the Commission might have recorded achievements in some aspects of its operation, the apparent indifference it has continued to show towards the launch of attacks on leaders whenever they visit foreign countries has rendered such achievements terribly insignificant. No other duty of the NiDCOM can be as important as the full engagement of the Nigerian communities in other countries in order to make them appreciate both the danger of such acts and the need for their respective members to accord the right kind of respect to the leaders of their country of origin.
Additionally, the Commission should utilise the instrumentality of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs under which it operates to ensure that the governments of those host countries provide adequate protection for Nigerian leaders while on a visit. Since there can not be any law in any country that backs the humiliation of people on legitimate missions, NiDCOM should insist that a required priority is given to the safety of the country’s leaders by the host governments.
However, there are some fundamental lessons which the leaders should learn from the protests especially if they are analysed within the context of the fact that Nigerians who lived or are still living in other countries were and are still known for their habitual show of respect and love for their country and its leaders. This means that the change of attitude must have been caused by the style of governance of the current leaders which is characterised by a noticeable neglect of even the most basic needs of the citizens.
It needs to be noted that some of the protesters openly complained about the poor state of the various critical facilities in the country including hospitals and schools which continuously compels the very few privileged Nigerians and members of their respective families to travel out of Nigeria in search of vital services most often at the expense of the country. This is what severely pains those Nigerians whose stay abroad affords them the opportunity to see systems at work and are therefore, as furiously stated by some of them, unhappy that in their own home country to which they hope to return, such a situation is completely non-existent.