- I am delighted to be here with you on the occasion of the Annual General Conference of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization in the Americas, NIDOA. This marks my first official function upon arrival at post on June 14, 2011, indicative of the importance I attach to NIDO and its activities.
- I commend the organizers for putting together this elaborate event despite all the challenges that had dodged the path of NIDOA in the not too distant past. It should be realized that there is no better option in a foreign land than being each other’s keeper, pulling together, working together, sharing ideas together, which makes any community of people more formidable.
- For these reasons, one would advise that Nigerians should discard the idea of associations based on ethnic or religious cleavages. It is a settled policy that the Consulate-General in Atlanta accords recognition only to Associations with national outlook, character and focus to make our nation great and stand tall in the comity of nations.
- The aims of NIDOA are obvious. In a nutshell, it is to serve as a pool for Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora; to work for national development; to attract investment to Nigeria; to serve as vanguard for Nigerian interest in helping to improve Nigerian image by addressing the negative perception about Nigeria through exemplary character and behavior. The list is endless.
- I am pleased that NIDOA members are doing these and more. The contributions of members of the Diaspora world-wide in terms of remittances to the Nigerian economy stands at between $10-13 billion a year, second only to revenue from crude oil. In this respect, it is worthy of note that contributions from Nigerians in the United States make up a significant proportion of this amount.
- Moreover, many NIDOA members have served the Federal and State Governments in advisory and executive capacities; attracted businesses and investments to Nigeria; sent home medical and other supplies; currently operate charities and scholarship schemes for indigent students back in Nigeria, among other assistance. I applaud you for your patriotism and sense of commitment to the development of your fatherland.
- Please keep up the good work you have been doing and do not be tired if we ask for me. The victory of President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, in one of the freest, fairest and most credible elections in the history of Nigeria held on April 16, 2011 is victory for all Nigerians.
- The Federal Government is therefore poised to translate electoral promises into realities through its transformational agenda, aimed at making Nigeria one of the 20 most developed countries by the year 2020. To achieve this laudable goal, government does not pretend that there are no challenges.
- Indeed, the challenges are daunting and subsists in the area of reliable Power Supply, Infrastructure, Food, Security, workable Transportation especially revival of the railway system, affordable Housing, National Security, Poverty Alleviation, quality Education, provision of Running Water, among others.
- However, where there is a will, there is a way. It is for this reason that the Jonathan Administration is calling on the Diaspora community to join hands with it for the transformation of our fatherland. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean and every contribution in this endeavor counts.
- The Diaspora Communities of the state of Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Pakistan and even Ghana made and continue to make significant contributions to the development of their respective countries. Let us wean ourselves of the idea of winning government contracts and seeking appointive executive positions, which sometimes create division among your ranks. The focus of Nigerian Foreign Policy, besides Citizen Diplomacy is Economic Diplomacy, which you can help government to drive to its logical conclusion.
- The Federal Government had already promised to work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other organs of government with a view to reviewing the necessary laws to ensure that Nigerians in Diaspora exercise their franchise in future polls. Efforts are also being made by Government to put in place the Diaspora Commission for the interest of the Nigeria Diaspora Community world-wide, based on the passage of the Bill which Hon. Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Arewa initiated.
- Here in the United States, the Consulate-General under my watch will work and partner with you to ensure better service delivery. I commit that we must do things better for the welfare and interest of Nigerians within our jurisdiction.
- I thank you for the invitation and wish you the best in your endeavours.
Consulate General of Nigeria
June 22, 2011.