By Nicole James
In March, 2014, former Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan joined other world leaders including former President of United States, Barrack Obama to attend Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands. Jonathan seized the opportunity to hold a Town Hall meeting with the Nigerian community in the Netherlands. The meeting which was held in Amsterdam was attended by Nigerian professionals in the
Netherlands and other groups. One of the topics that dominated that meeting was the issue of when the Diaspora Commission will take off and the challenges of non-availability of reliable database of Nigerians in Diaspora. This perhaps explains the excitement that has greeted the signing into law of the Bill establishing Diaspora Commission by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo . Nigerians in Diaspora have described it as a foundation for the development of critical infrastructure in the country.
The signing into law of the bill also came barely a month after the Managing Director of The Infrastructure Bank , Adekunle AbdulRazaq Oyinloye challenged Nigerians in Diaspora to invest in the development of infrastructure in the country and also in bond.
The Diaspora Commission has the responsibility to co-ordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states.
Besides, it will also provide database of Nigerians on various fields and potentialities as resource base for Nigeria and the world to draw from as well as protect the interest of all Nigerians in the Diaspora. In an interview with Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, Taslim Adebowale Alade Ph.D. candidate of Urban Management and Development at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, described the establishment of the Commission as a right step in the right direction.
“ I believe this is a right step in the right direction. Nigerians in diaspora need to have a data base which will promote effective coordination and provide areas of synergy for professionals with different platforms. At the end, Nigerians will know how to develop themselves better complementing one another in different socioeconomic dimensions” he said. A Nigerian who lives in Limerick, Ireland and Chairman of Kunle Oyadeji & Associates, Kunle Oyadeji said about the Diaspora Commission ‘’This is good news which is long overdue, this will make us to have sense of belonging and we can also vote as the need arises, God bless Nigeria” Also speaking with Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, Abdullahi Sani who lives in South Africa opined that the commission would propel Nigerians in Diaspora to have a sense of belonging and be willing to give back to their country, a position similar to that of Joy Andrew who is based in Germany. On his part, the National Co-Director of National African Business Association, Akindele Akinyemi sees the commission as a good omen for Nigeria. Akinyemi who is based in Inkster, Wayne County, Michigan, United States said: ‘’This Act will provide Nigerians in the Diaspora to capitalize on this strategic opportunity. Therefore, Nigerians must embrace the positive economic impacts we will be able to bring on local economies and knock down the fears and myths about their role in the economy. ‘’ By enabling the attitudes, policies, and programs that accelerate immigrant inflows and support retention of first and second generation families in the Diaspora, it is necessary to revitalize our regional population and economy—a regional economy in dramatic need of the population growth, diversity and multi-national connectivity, and entrepreneurial energy that Nigerians in the Diaspora will bring forth at the global level’’.