Nigeria's Diaspora Under Siege

Published on 6th October 2008

Nigeria has at 48, grown from a nation everyone desired into a country nobody wants. Concerned citizens (and friends of Nigeria) contend that nothing short of social revolution and participation in successive governments would save Nigeria.


Unfortunately, how to initiate or jumpstart the revolution remains both elusive and unclear. Furthermore, majority of initially "sincere" capable Nigerians disappear into the black hole of national corruption and senselessness soon after they join the system.


Nigeria Map and Flag colours
Naturally, efforts and strategies to reclaim Nigeria are predominantly by option B - join the rot. It is in the vortex of this conundrum that the organization of Nigerians in the Diaspora (NIDO) is caught today. So NIDO participates with governments of the day, wines, dines and discusses with ignoble Nigerian leadership fops in the hope that the rot dilution time would be reduced from infinity.


However, none of the so called facts that I've seen brandished out here as NIDO's tall achievements so far can really take fire successfully to the farm. These "facts" distil miserably into two main categories - 1) facilitation and securing of Abuja land allocations to NIDO memberships and sympathizers, and 2) involvement of diaspora Nigerians in the government system at home, including sponsoring of a legislative bill to that effect and writing white papers that would probably not see the light of day for years.


There is perhaps no doubt that some members of NIDO have good intentions. But it is not hard either to imagine that many carpetbaggers would join NIDO as a shortcut to share spoils of governance that are distributed without fear or scruples. Under these compromising circumstances, it is easy for conscientious NIDO aficionados to slip into rationalisation of mediocre activities as true national service.


Why would any group of Nigerians regard writing and handing over a white paper on voting rights to Yar'Adua as a prime progressive activity in Nigeria today?  Why would anyone or cultural group not smell any stench in eating with the rotten fish heads from Nigeria as they travel to contemporary modern cities of the world with no accountability in money, purpose or impact at home.


At this time, nepotistic receptions for visionless excellencies by NIDO are nothing more than paying of insulting congratulatory homage to national atrophy. Many Nigerians - at home or abroad - would surely find it reprehensible that of all the problems confronting majority of Nigerians at home, negotiating land allocations for NIDO interests is the best act of national service NIDO can perform at these brutal times. NIDO should know that Nigerians will not be in a hurry to forget or forgive those who farm their hopes for damnable personal profits.


NIDO purportedly represents Nigerians abroad including the best and the brightest. This participatory strategy in which plots of land are negotiated with the unscrupulous political class of the day diminishes NIDO, vitiating its best yellow papers and making them remain perpetually in the shadow of self service. Besides, NIDO ought to remember that countless white papers and blueprints have been submitted before to successive insincere governments including from innumerable commissions of inquiries.


IMF loan, census, religious riots, health care, FCT creation, state killings, Abacha and Obasanjo constitutional conferences, OPUTA, Ajaokuta, power generation, power rotation, education, local/foreign election monitoring group reports, Vision 2010, Vision 2030, etc, all preceding NIDO's green papers on voting rights have proved useless.


If the Nigerian government provides vision and a conducive climate for business - Nigerians in Diaspora would return in droves and contribute to true nation building. NIDO cannot and should not be seen to be in cahoots with the current corruptible Nigerian political class. NIDO can't just be securing land allocations and submitting superfluous position papers to frivolous government officials and think it's performing a spiffy national service.


That is not a position of influence or relevance to be in for any NGO, much less a representative organization of millions of Nigerians abroad. NIDO may keep its prolific activities, however, without some form of serious oversight, NIDO will remain helpless against itself and against the Nigerian government it seeks to influence with progressive ideas.


Another way to gauge NIDO relevance in Nigeria is to assess how common Nigerians have benefited from its collaborative activities with the Nigerian government over say a year, 5 years or 10 years. If this evaluation points to little or no positive impact on Nigerians, then NIDO relevance cannot be vouchsafed and the organization may as well just exist as a mere socio-political assembly of frustrated Nigerians living outside the borders.


Monitoring and calling out official chaos, paralyzing corruption and diabolic national policies ought to be the cornerstone of NIDO strategy on helping Nigeria. It is this approach that will sting the venal leadership cabal the most and garner the most respect for NIDO from all and sundry. NIDO could probably have many fronts for its patriotic activities. It could organize itself into working groups (WGs), committees or focus groups. As things stand now, NIDO probably has only two WGs - land allocation WG that deals with Rufai and the idea lab WG that writes the purple papers. But more WGs should be considered to achieve a carrot-stick balance in fighting the chicanery of our political elite at home.


One WG could focus on crusade against corruption, another on our performance-challenged national assembly, one WG could be dedicated to monitor the vacuous executive branch, another on the entire inept and corrupt civil service, and on education (quality and curriculum), Niger Delta, Food Security, etc, etc.  Merely publishing its findings in the local papers is enough for its effects on the Nigerian leaderships. The cumulative effects of successive findings from various aspects of our system can be quite dramatic in the society.


It is important that NIDO balances its carrot WG activities with stick WG ones. Securing allocation of land plots for members and sympathisers or simply hand over green-white-green papers to government is a carrot activity.  NIDO needs a stick activity in the form of monitoring the government.


Qansy Salako

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