The Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organizations has called for the Nigerian Diaspora Committee (NIDCOM) to be upgraded to a Ministry in order to fulfill its obligations towards millions of citizens in foreign countries. The committee directed the call on Thursday in Abuja during an interactive session with NIDCOM officials, led by its chairperson, Ms Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The NIDCOM chief had earlier told the committee that the agency was facing serious challenges in fulfilling its mandate due to poor funding. Dabiri-Erewa specifically said that her office is finding it difficult to assist some Nigerians in critical situations in foreign lands because there are no overseas travel arrangements for its officials. She also said that the government has yet to compensate her for the three trips she recently made on behalf of Nigeria. The law says we should have five diaspora offices, but we don’t have the money. It’s in the law but we don’t have the money. Some of the expats help us when we travel. The diaspora is the most important thing for Nigeria at the moment and I can tell you that we are not even involved with 10 per cent of the diaspora.
“What we always do is we use technology. We appeal to the National Assembly to help us so that we have continental offices so that we can have direct access to Nigerians in the diaspora. Our inability to have offices abroad does not allow us to engage the 10 per cent of Nigerians in the diaspora,” she said.
In its response, the Commission noted that the responsibilities placed on NIDCOM were more than the agency could handle. The team members also suggested that the technical assistance body be under the direct supervision of NIDCOM. The Senate Committee Chair, Senator Michael Nachi (PDP Ebonyi South), has asked the NIDCOM Legal Department to contact the National Assembly with a view to amending the law that created it.