…As Senate Pledges To Pass Diaspora Commission Bill
By Nuel Suji – The Presidency is set to partner the National Assembly on a new policy to cater for the needs and inclusiveness of Nigerians in Diaspora.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora and Foreign Relations gave this cheering news when she led a delegation to visit the Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, Sen. Rose Oko in Abuja on Tuesday.
She said that the potentials of Nigerians in the diaspora could not be effectively harnessed without a Diaspora policy and a commission to carter for the Nigerians in the Diaspora.
“We must have a Diapora Policy as soon as possible, Nigeria does not have Diaspora policy, so the first thing we would be doing is crafting a Diaspora policy.
“We will be working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the House and Senate Committee on Diaspora to craft this policy on Diaspora matters.
“This policy would be like a thrust for every other thing that we are going to do and work on that will start very soon, we are going to get every Nigerian in the diaspora to contribute to the policy.
“Without the policy we cannot do anything so that is very critical, and of course the Diaspora Commission Bill is also very critical,” she said.
She recalled that the Bill to create a Diaspora Commission was passed by the 7th Assembly but was not assented to and therefore urged the 8th National Assembly to revisit the bill.
She said that with the policy and the commission, it would be important to have a database of Nigerians in the Diaspora with a view to reaping good benefits from them.
She added that the nation may be ignoring an untapped resource by not accommodating the Nigerians in Diaspora who has remitted over $21 billion dollars annually to the country.
“There is no better time to have Nigerians in Diapora collaborating to get the best for Nigeria.
“The issue of Diaspora voting is also important but that would depend on the National Assembly if they decide to amend the constitution to make this possible.
“Perhaps the economic survival of Nigeria could depend a lot on the Nigerians in the Diaspora, if they were able to remit $21 billion in 2014 they can be able to do more.
“President Buhari is willing that is why for the first time he has an SSA on Diaspora, we have a committee in the Senate, we have a committee in the House.
“We have committed Nigerians in the diaspora who are contributing to the World economy so we have no excuse not to tap into this enormous human resource.
“Because of its importance, 26 countries have formed ministries for the diaspora, we should not let other countries beat us to it because ours is part of the largest population,”” she said.
In her remarks, Sen. Oko said that the Senate was committed to passing the bill establishing the Diaspora Commission adding that it had already scaled first reading in the Senate.
The lawmaker said that the Senate was already looking at all the key areas that the SSA mentioned, adding that any part that required the intervention of the senate would be immediately addressed.
“We will work with you and also with Nigerians in the Diaspora to look at how we can get Foreign Direct Investments from Nigerians in the Diaspora.
The issue of Diaspora Commission would be addressed by this Senate, we would also look at the Policy on diaspora and make our contributions too,” she said.
The Senator noted that it was pertinent for the nation to know the number of its nationals abroad and how they were faring so as to be able to intervene in the event of unjust treatment.
She urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to be worthy ambassadors of Nigeria, stressing that Nigeria would not stick its neck out for any Nigerians who disobeys the laws of the country of residence.