You are currently viewing Ending the affront to the Rule of Law: Open letter to the House Committee Chairman on Nigerian Diaspora affairs, by Collins Nweke
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As you settle into office, Honourable House Committee Chairman, Sir Tochukwu Okere, I note with optimism that you have commenced a consultation round with Diaspora Stakeholders. This can only mean that you have a desire to understand the Diaspora landscape, know the issues and challenges as well as the opportunities and prospects.

This is normal approach. But not in Nigeria! Take it from a confirmed source that as basic as this gesture is, those before you have never taken off in this manner. In Nigeria, we are used to commending people for doing the job for which they are paid. I’m sure you don’t want me to do that. Instead let me congratulate you for a start on your new appointment.
I want this note to be as brief as possible. I will therefore be short on details and precise on facts but ready to engage further in areas requiring expatiation. To provide the basis for the dynamics that led us to where we are on Nigerian Diaspora affairs and to where we are going, I will crave your indulgence to precede it with a paintbrush of the Pre-2000 era.

Pre-2000 Era of Nigerian Diaspora Affairs
Historically, the first poll of Nigerian Diaspora left the shores of the country for study purposes. Vast majority returned; a few stayed back for family reasons, including marriage to host country nationals, raising a family, and career related matters. The initial poll of migration out of Nigeria was added to by the civil war induced migration, some forced, others sponsored again for study purposes. Return and remain pattern, post studies was same as the pioneer
group. Forced migration linked to military misrule, economic hardship, could be considered as the third wave of Nigerian Diaspora build-up in Europe and the United States. This was
underscored by Nigerian exiles, fugitives, refugees and asylum seekers.

The major take away from this Nigerian Diaspora era is that these sojourning citizens were loosely organised along ethnicity, political, and pressure group lines. There was no formal link with the Government of Nigeria. Understandly so because of the low trust level or complete absence of it. The infamous Umaru Dikko London abduction saga explains enough.

Post-2000 Era
Following the return to civil rule after the 1999 elections, there was a realisation of the quantum and quality of Nigerian Diaspora across the globe. A major characteristic of the group is that they were still organised along ethnicity and interests. In itself, not a huge problem
except that they were often in competition, not collaboration, with one another. There was also absence of a formal channel of communication with Government. Given the deep division
within the Diaspora on how to be formally organised, the touring President-Elect, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, decided to have series of Millennial Assemblies of Nigerians in the Americas and in Europe on assumption of office. The two main questions to resolve were:
should Government adopt / recognise a single existing organisation as the official partner of government on Diaspora affairs or make a clean start with a new entity? The verdict of the Conferences attended by thousands of Nigerians anxious for a reinvigorated engagement with fatherland was overwhelmingly to make a clean start. There lies the birth of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO).

The challenges
The establishment of NIDO quickly threw up a few challenges, some of which are inevitable while others are man-manufactured and therefore avoidable. For a start, some strong influential, perhaps recalcitrant voices against establishment of NIDO never gave up their opposition, despite the fact that the decision was a democratically and organically taken one. The NIDO opposition group was joined by some early NIDO enthusiasts
who could not play the NIDO democratic politics, having gotten used to the patriarchic organising model prevalent in community organisations. They felt more comfortable opting out of NIDO to compete with it. Government officials and political office holders tasked with supporting NIDO or mandated to do so equally have pro-NIDO and anti-NIDO forces.


The most important conclusion to draw at this point is that the best performing Chapters of NIDO are in jurisdictions where there is a supportive Ambassador. Ukraine and later Switzerland come to mind. NIDO is also known to have made the most progress in times when
political office holders underwrite the notion of relating with NIDO as the official body and encouraging other groups to collaborate rather than compete with it. We must equally take something away from the fact that the passage of the Act for the establishment of the
Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) into law (a Bill) took place during the 8th Assembly under a House Committee Chairman that honoured without reservation, government policy of establishing a formal channel of communication with the Diaspora
through NIDO.

The elephant in the room
I make bold to ask, Honourable Chairman House Committee on Diaspora, how do you wish to be remembered? This question is the elephant in the room. There are two broad options open to you, organisationally and legislatively, if you ask me. On the organisational side of the ledger, you could have your time in office be associated with an era in Nigerian history that got the Nigerian Diaspora equitably organised. Yes, NIDO is as of today the official representative of the Diaspora but who says that the representation as it is today is cast in concrete and can’t be reviewed and made more wholesome for Nigeria. I’m sure your round of consultations is giving you indications of necessary reforms. Is there a reason your time in office can’t be credited with transparently organising the Diaspora table boldly and audaciously? Yours must be an era when a political office holder is a Diaspora galvaniser rather than a champion of divide and rule. Your era could be one that sees an
organised Diaspora population not as a threat to your personal ambitions but a value adding asset to Nigeria.


On the legislative side of the ledger, history beckons you my Honourable Chairman House Committee on Diaspora to end the current impunity and rascality whereby the Bill establishing
the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission stipulates that there shall be a Board with 12 Diaspora members yet four years since its establishment, no such Board exists. Maintaining a cordial
working relationship with NIDCOM is absolutely desirable for your Committee but so too is a good relationship with the target group of the policy you are meant to provide oversight for.

You must resist any attempt by any side of these entities to pitch you against the other. You need no permission from NIDO to relate with NIDCOM and vice versa. Your independence of mind and thought in the execution of your oversight function will be critical to your success as Chairman House Committee on Diaspora.


Still on the legislative plank, I am aware that most people anchor their arguments for Diaspora Voting on the US$23 Billion (on the average) of annual Diaspora Remittances. While this is substantial, Diaspora remittance remains today a welfare, consumption capital. As House Chair you can change that into investment capital through bonds, infrastructure investment fund, and so forth. Beyond that, I happen to believe that the strongest argument for Diaspora
Voting is that not making it happen is antithetical to democracy, if not an affront to the rule of law. Making it happen will equally help to unlock the hidden potentials for accelerating national development of Nigeria using the assets that the Diaspora brings to the table.

Above all, history will have your name and those of your House Committee members engraved in gold if the 10th Assembly by your intentional leadership makes Diaspora Voting a reality.

Collins Nweke was Chief Executive of Nigerian Diaspora Organisation Europe prior to serving as Board Chairman 2011 – 2013. A current third term Green Municipal Legislator for Social Affairs at the Ostend City Council, Belgium, he is an Opinion Maker columnist of The Brussels Times and Foreign Policy Commentator / Global Affairs Analyst with a host of Afrocentric media houses.. A Fellow & Vice President of the International Association of Research
Scholars & Administrators, Collins is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria.

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  1. Abdur-Rahman Balogun


    By Magnus Agu

    Reading through the public letter by Collins Nweke, purportedly addressed to the new Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs I thought it would be something new, something different, something more intelligent.
    But it was all still same of the same I won’t bore you with a long treatise I think Collins Nweke already did that .So let me go straight to the points that I want to focus on in the write-up

    1. The issue of Nido ( Nigerians in diaspora organization )Collins Nweke has taken us through the history of the formation of Nido I don’t have any problem with his historical background
    NIDO, an initiative of President Olusegun Obasanjo many years ago was set up to have all Diaspora groups under one umbrella. Unfortunately, the purpose was not achieved due to in-fighting, and quarrels, that subsequently saw even original, serious-minded members of the group exiting Nido , thanks to the sit tight and clandestine nature of its inaugural leaders like Collins Nweke and few of his cohorts.
    Stories are replete of many Nigerians abroad who were recommended to join the organization but left disappointed and wondered how they would function in an organization that had different factions, had lots of hidden and selfish agendas by its so called leaders at that time . They were confused as they had to deal with these fears so they , like many others, saw no focus and so opted out . So Collins Nweke, a founding father of Nido should be ashamed of the general state of affairs of Nido , particularly the clandestine Nido Worldwide and Nido Continental , which he and just a handful of his like , treacherously hold on to as their cash cow. It’s either his way or no way
    Now . Don’t get me wrong There are various branches of NIDO doing well in some countries Take for instance NIDO Sierra Leone. NIDO Sierra Leone has taken up a project to build a hospital in Sierra Leone for Nigerians in Sierra Leone. Nido Europe ( representing the whole of Europe led by Bashir Obasekola ) Nido Qatar, Nido South Korea , Nido Sweden, and some other Nido chapters in some countries are doing well in their various chapters and must be commended , along with other diaspora groups and associations and individuals making Nigeria proud
    It must be noted that some countries don’t have any organization called NIDO. For instance, South Africa has NICASA, and Nusa , Australia has an Association of Nigerians in Australia, and Ethiopia has an organization called NISE. I could go on and on, In America there is NAPAC , an association that has supported Nigerians contesting various elections in America, and today about 14 Nigerians in America have won their elections In America with the support of NAPAC . In Canada alone there are about 51 diaspora organizations and none of which is called Nido. Canada is peculiar because one of Collins Nweke´s Colleagues registered Nido in his own name In other words he owns Nido. Story for another day . We all know that there are professional associations like ANPA, NAPPSA, MANSAG, NNCA, NCBN, NNC,and several other professional and socio cultural groups . Canuk in the UK represents almost over 100 associations while existing along Nido UK South Zumunta is also a very strong and purposeful diaspora group . So would it not be easier if all these associations are under one umbrella as former President Olusegun Obasanjo envisaged ?Noble intention But these genuine objectives failed over the years because people like Collins Nweke remained selfish and self-centered. They could not keep Nido as one I mean how can an association that is fragmented bring others on board, for instance, NidoAfrica shamelessly has at least 2 factions, fighting over what ? Nido America has more than a faction, There are some Nido groups in some countries in Asia and the Middle East , existing along side other very active and purposeful groups .
    Nido does not exist anywhere in Australia and many other countries around the world

    As noble as the objective of having all Nigerian diaspora groups under one umbrella is , it has not worked.

    So what NIDO needs to do is put its own house in order and rebrand, talk to all these associations, and see if they can bring them together under one room, But my fears are it is too late now because of people like Colin’s Nweke and and his cohorts , who after 25 years , feel that they must hold on to Nido and hold 17million Nigerians in the diaspora to ransom through what Nweke calls Nido Worldwide and Nido Continental. These are bodies created by him and his gang made up of former Chairmen of Nido whom they constituted with the aim of remaining in charge of these associations for life. Mr Chairman put yourself in this situation Imagine former chairmen and members of the house committee of diaspora constituting themselves into associations of former committee members and taking decisions for you as a serving parliamentarian and chairman of committee ?What Collins Nweke is thus asking you to do is to take these guys , who have been former chairmen of Nido , as the alpha and omega of all 17 million Nigerians in Diaspora ? Chairman, does that make sense to you ?
    Nweke is talking about rule of law . What moral right does a man who was an executive of Nido since the days of President Obasanjo , but refuses to let go , through what he calls Nido worldwide ?
    I think Collins Nweke , beyond giving empty foreign policy analysis on tv sometimes, needs a job . Mr Chairman, you can help him get a job , please

    Collins Nweke and his Nido worldwide and Nido Continental ( whatever it means ) has remained a nuisance and a distraction from genuine diaspora issues affecting Nigerians all over the world
    Mr. Chairman sir I challenge you to ask Collins Nweke to give you just 500 genuine names of his members world wide !

    Colllins Nweke`s piece titled “ Ending the Affront to the Rule of Law “ is ironic because , as expressly stated above ,if there is any affront to the rule of law that should be ended ,it should be that of Colllins Nweke and his inconsequential microscopic minority gang who want to be perpetual rulers, We in the Diaspora will continue to resist and reject them
    Now , we have our own Commission , Nidcom , to relate with .And in this age of technology, getting data of registered groups and associations and bringing them together to work for the progress of our country is easier . And we can see that Nidcom is doing just that

    As for the issue of the NiDCOM Board, it is an Administrative structure to be set up by Mr President, so it is an administrative matter. NiDCOM Board is not the only Board that has not been constituted and it will be constituted., hopefully soon However, we must commend the Diaspora Commission for bringing the Diaspora phenomenon to the front burner and you can see it’s been doing well despite all the challenges as well as little or no funding. They have taken the issue of diaspora seriously and put Nigerian issues on the front burner and we do appreciate this. Is the Commission perfect? No, but we have to help in building and strengthening this organization. Diaspora is a part of our foreign policy in Nigeria and if you look at the diaspora policy, it is well crafted if it is properly implemented we would even do better than other countries have done all over the world.
    Nweke’s obsession, as in other issues with him , is self serving . He desperately had hoped to be chairman or worse case , member of the board , especially if another party had won elections , not the APC
    Well, dreams do come true . I wish him well

    And on the issue of Diaspora voting, Collins Nweke and his gang are not even sincere about this. A few years back they said, oh, they will mobilize 1,000,000 people on Diaspora voting and they could not even mobilize one person

    So therefore he is not in a position to talk about diaspora voting, Diaspora voting has been an issue that has been championed by people at home and in the diaspora. There is already a bill in the Senate to amend the constitution to make diaspora voting a reality and what we want from you Mr Chairman is to join in our voices to make this a reality.
    In his write-up, Collins Nweke asked you a pertinent question , which he termed “ the elephant in the room”He asked “ what do you want to be remembered for.” I pose the same question right back to you
    What do you want to be remembered for ?
    A selfless , patriotic parliamentarian or
    a religious, tribal bigot that will give in to selfish manipulations? ( By the way Mr Chairman I know you are a member of the Labour Party to which people like Collins Nweke belong to ) So do you want to be remembered as a selfless parliamentarian who put the issues of diaspora selflessly Irrespective of tribe , political affiliations ?Or one who will join the clarion call for all Nigerians at home and abroad to join hands to build Nigeria together
    The ball is in your court !.

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