Hon. (Mrs.) Abike Dabiri-Erewa became the pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) in 2019 following the upgrading, by an act of parliament, of the position of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs, which she hitherto occupied, to the status of a Commission.
In only three years, the former House of Representatives member has led NIDCOM to impact positively on virtually all areas of its core mandate which include the promotion of the welfare and interests of Nigerians in Diaspora, engaging them constructively and tapping their potentials for national development.
She got 33 out of 36 state governments to key into the larger Diaspora movement and subsequently made them to join hands with NIDCOM to organize a successful three-day Diaspora Summit in Abuja.
NIDCOM also facilitated the declaration of July 25 every year, by the Federal Government of Nigeria as `National Diaspora Day’, a date set aside to recognise and appraise Nigerians in the Diaspora on their contributions to national development.
The Commission also facilitated the evacuation of some 19,085 Nigerians back home from various countries for reasons of deportation, human abuses and trafficking, voluntary return home and effects of Covid-19 pandemic from June 2020 to March 2021.
The Chairman is already working with the National Assembly and other stakeholders like National Diaspora Voting Council, to grant voting rights to Nigerians in diaspora through amendment to the country’s Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution.
These are just some of the many achievements of NIDCOM, but they have started earning the commission and its Chairman/CEO recognition, accolades and awards, including the Business Day Award and Guardian Distinguished Award. NIDCOM was listed among the 20 outstanding Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government adjudged to have recorded exceptional performance in 2021.
But the Commission still has a lot of projects lined up for execution in fulfillment of its mandate. Some of them include Diaspora mapping geared towards having a data base of Nigerians living abroad for effective planning; re- launch of Diaspora Bonds; regular celebration of Diaspora Champions and grant of Awards to deserving Nigerians in the Diaspora as a way of encouraging them to be good ambassadors of the country.
Born in Jos, Plateau State, an indigene of Ikorodu, Lagos State, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa spent 15 years of meritorious service at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
She represented the people of Ikorodu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives from June 2003 to June 2015 and served as Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs (June 2003 to June 2008). She was also Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs (June 2008 till 2015).
In this chat with the Top10 magazine, Hon. Dabiri-Erewa speaks on a wide variety of issues relating to her duties as Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM and level of relationship between her agency and Nigerians in diaspora.
Q: How would you describe the relationship between your agency and the Nigerian
Diaspora business community?
A: The relationship between Nigerians in diaspora commission and the Nigerian diaspora community is robust, cordial, friendly and mutually engaging and encouraging.
Q: What is the involvement of your commission in protecting the interests
and investments of the diaspora Nigerian business people?
A: NIDCOM is at the forefront of midwiving diaspora direct investment to Nigeria and it ensures diaspora investments are protected, secured and promoted. NIDCOM further ensures that diaspora businesses are duly and officially registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and other relevant agencies.
Q: Does your agency have any data base of the Nigerian Diaspora business leaders, or how
do you keep in touch with them?
A: The commission is collating data of all Nigerians in the diaspora with its diaspora data mapping (portal). NIDCOM does official visits to some businesses established across the country e.g Lagos, Abuja, Owerri, Abia, Ekiti and many other states.
Q: What level of cooperation does NIDCOM enjoy from Nigerians in Diaspora, especially
the business leaders?
A: The level of cooperation NIDCOM enjoys with Nigerians in diaspora is mutual
and cordial, geared towards effective and efficient business climate.
Q: What are the biggest challenges faced by NIDCOM in the discharge of its
A: NIDCOM does not look or dwell on challenges sees challenges as opportunities. Being a newly established commission, challenges of funding and infrastructure are obviously top most.
Q: In your opinion, what are the hindrances in the way of Nigerian experts returning home
to invest their money or expertise in the development of their country, Nigeria, and what incentives has government put in place to attract them to do so?
A: The challenges are poor power supply, insecurity and bureaucracy. government is committed to tackling those challenges head long with various policies and programmes.
Q: What is the estimated level of foreign remittances by Nigerians in Diaspora into Nigeria? And in what ways has NIDCOM’s activities impacted on the level of foreign remittances?
A: In 2022, Nigeria tops in sub-saharan Africa in remittances amounting to over $20billion.
Q: What role is your agency playing to improve on the general image perception of Nigeria
A: NIDCOM has a robust and upwardly mobile media department churning out positive narratives about Nigeria as a friendly and investment destination as against western media imperialism.
Q: From your interactions with Nigerians in Diaspora in particular and foreigners in
general what factors do foreign investors consider most important in deciding whether to invest in Nigeria or not?
A: NIDCOM is in top level partnerships and collaboration with Nigerians in diaspora as our frontline ambassadors excelling in various fields.
Q: Does NIDCOM have any role to play in curbing the emigration or trafficking of young
Nigerian Women to Italy, Mali and other countries for prostitution? If so, what is the Commission doing about it and what results is it achieving?
A: NIDCOM’s mandate is strictly on Nigerians in diaspora but there is interagency collaboration especially with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP). The commission has been engaged in sensitization and media campaigns against irregular migration. The commission is at the forefront in championing managed migration through inter-agency collaboration.
Q: What is NIDCOM doing about the killing and attacks on Nigerians abroad?
A: NIDCOM takes very seriously on any country that her citizen maltreats or kills a Nigerian. NIDCOM has demonstrated this by condeming in very strong terms her displeasure on maltreatment and killing of Nigerians in any country and urged that perpetrators be brought to book.
Q: What is NIDCOM doing to enfranchise Nigerians in Diaspora in the 2023 elections and
A: NIDCOM is engaging the National Assembly, INEC, and other strategic partners to ensure that Nigerians in the diaspora exercise their franchise in subsequent elections given their economic values and social dynamism.
Q: In the last two decades or thereabouts, Nigeria has come to acquire notoriety as one of
the countries with the highest incidence of terrorist activities in the world, how is this image affecting the operations of NIDCOM and foreign investment in Nigeria?
A: Insecurity is a global challenge and Nigeria is not exempted. NIDCOM is encouraging its diaspora not to be deterred by insecurity and invest maximally in the country.
Q: Finally, what’s your message to Nigerians in the diaspora, especially the business
leaders among them?
A: My message to our diaspora compatriots is never to forget home; remember, east or west, home is the best; invest in your country, touch lives and be happy you did for your country