Nigerians in Diaspora Organization, NIDO, an umbrella body of over 17 million Nigerians resident abroad has said that the scourge of corruption back home is affecting their investments and image.
Stating however that Nigeria as a nation was not corrupt, the organization submitted that a few unpatriotic citizens are denting the country’s image before the international community.
The Organization which is categorized into four namely: NIDO Africa, Asia, Europe and the US also said that despite the challenges, Nigerians in diaspora have continued contribute their quota to the growth and development of the country through various remittances.
It stated that the volume of remittances made into the Nigerian economy in 2016 was $24 billion.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja over the weekend as part of the activities marking this year’s NIDO week, its principal officers which included Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, Continental chairman, NIDO Europe; Barrister Samuel Gbenga Adewusi, Continental chairman NIDO Americas; Dr. Victor Njinmah , Chairman Board of trustees NIDO Germany; and Alhaji Abdullahi Dauda, Local Organising committee said they had decided to address the menace of corruption in line with anti-corruption stance of the federal government to give Nigerians abroad a good image.
Hon. Gbandi said that it was important to correct the growing impression that all Nigerians were corrupt.
He said: “We can’t paint white black just for some people to be happy. Is there corruption in Nigeria? Absolutely. One leader once said that we have corruption in Nigeria but Nigeria is not corruption and you cannot say that every Nigerian or Nigeria as a nation is corrupt. We have some people here. But I think we have different laws to deal with corrupt people in Nigeria.
“Now, is it affecting the Diaspora investment? Absolutely. And it is one of the things we are trying to step into; we have a lot of scammers, a lot of issues, talking about intransparency in doing business. NIDO is stepping into that role. We want to begin to bridge those gaps, change those perceptions about Nigeria being a corrupt country. I can tell you that most of the reforms in Nigeria actually are from the Diaspora.”
He also hinted that Nigerians in Diaspora had also impacted on the country in many ways.
“It wasn’t until 2015 that we decided that NIDO has to tell its own stories so that people will know what NIDO has done and continues to do. Apart from the fact that NIDO comprised professional groups of people all over world: Asia, Africa, US and Europe, what we have is that the brain power within NIDO cannot be over emphasized. NIDO is actually proving brainpower. We are talking about serious technology transfer that is going on behind the scenes that many Nigerians don’t know of.
“The embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC said that last year that Nigerian Diaspora remitted over $24 billion into the Nigerian economy. Seriously, we are not being boastful here. But for those kinds of remittances that you have, it is more than what Nigeria gets in foreign direct investment within 5 years from the West, from our so-called friends. But for those remittances, I don’t think Nigeria will be in this position to talk. I am not kidding you. The remittances show what Nigerians in Diaspora are doing not to talk about what we have to contribute in areas of technology transfer, knowledge transfer”, he said.
Also speaking, Barrister Adewusi, Continental Chairman, NIDO Americas said that they come home periodically to give free medical treatment and other noble services to Nigerians
He also stated that NIDO was addressing the issue of corruption.
“Every year, at least 4 to 5 years, the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America, they come home and give free medical treatment to people without charging anything and calling for press conference.
“To follow up, one of the issues we are going to discuss on Tuesday is the issue of corruption. We invited the Head of ICPC to join us. He will giving a talk on this issue and we have a panel of experts discussing this issue of corruption. NIDO is not sitting by.
“Right now, if I come to this country and I want to go ahead and log in to my account in the US, my computer wouldn’t let me go because the IP address, even that of the VIce President is blocked. He cannot log in and get something overseas. So, that is what corruption is doing.”
On the issue of voting rights, Adewusi said that hope were high that the next phase of constitutional amendment would resolve the matter.
“Part of the delegation we sent to National Assembly was not only about the Diaspora Commission but also Diaspora Voting Right. The fact that there had been a passage of the Electronic voting is the first step to diaspora voting right. Now, we have about 17 million Nigerians scattered all over the world and the diaspora voting, we have to know first, the statistics of Nigerians outside the country. The project has reached NIMC for a national identity card. Once that is done, the second phase I think, will be to amend the constitution to allow diaspora voting to come into place”, he said.
Meanwhile, the 2017 NIDO week themed “Diaspora Participation and Engagement for National Development” would formally open at the National Assembly with many government functionaries expected to grace the event.