You are currently viewing We are working to optimise the potential of Nigerians in the Diaspora – Obasekola, Continental Chairman, NIDO Europe
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Dr. Bashir Obasekola is a man of many parts. In addition to his community services, he is currently professionally engaged as the Director of Economics at the Finance department of Independent Media, a Russian high-tech media holding company based in Moscow. He spoke to Ademola Akinbola, the Publisher of The Podium Magazine on a wide range of issues. Enjoy the excerpts.

 What has been your experience being a leader in NIDO

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NIDO – Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, is the global coalition of Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora. Before being elected as the Continental Chairman of NIDO-Europe in November 2020, I have been in NIDO practically from inception in 2001 and have held different leadership positions in the organisation. I was the leader of the working group for the establishment of a NIDO-Europe Chapter in Russia. I later became the Chairman of the NIDO-Russia Chapter from 2010 to 2014. From 2014 to 2016, I was the Continental Vice Chairman of NIDO-Europe. So, my experiences throughout all these years in NIDO have been very interesting. NIDO, being a platform and network of Nigerians across the continent and the world, has accorded me the opportunity to know more about ourselves as Nigerians from diverse backgrounds and locations. It has allowed me to learn how to manage diversity and respect differences. In the course of my interactions and numerous travelling to various countries for NIDO events, I have also been able to acquire knowledge and widen my horizon, which sometimes becomes handy even in my professional job.   

 What have been the challenges and how have you surmounted them?

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As I have noted earlier, NIDO comprises people from diverse backgrounds and callings, hence the initial challenges were to develop a thick skin, learn to accommodate dissenting views, and find compromises without losing the main goal of any initiative. NIDO is a voluntary organization that thrives only on individuals’ selfless and patriotic intuition. So, those who make themselves available to contribute to the development of the organisation must be commended. We spend our hard-earned money and time for the sake of our fatherland.  

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 What are your immediate and long-term plans for NIDO?

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NIDO is a good initiative, motivated and strongly supported by the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 to mobilise and galvanise the human and financial resources of Nigerians in Diaspora towards Nigeria’s development. So, enlisting as a member of the organization since then was to partake in the pursuance of Nigeria’s national development. As the NIDO leader in Europe, which currently comprises 23 countries, my major plan has been to strengthen and institutionalize many of the various objectives of the organization, so that there will be continuity of most of the laudable things the organization has been doing.

Another major task for my administration is to improve the inclusiveness of the organization, being the major umbrella platform for Nigerians in the Diaspora to interface with the governments of Nigeria. We have also launched the Youth wing of NIDO-Europe to accommodate more youths, who have now formed a significant proportion of the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora. Two seats on the Board of Trustees of the organisation are reserved for the youths (Youth Representatives). Nigeria is known for sports, especially football; and most of our international footballers are based in Europe. So, we are tapping into the goodwill of these sports icons and opening NIDO to them for inclusiveness.

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During our AGM in Aberdeen last year, we honoured as NIDO-Europe Sports Ambassadors three international footballers whose professional careers in Europe have positively affected Nigeria’s reputation. NIDO-Europe is also happy to associate with David Alaba of Real Madrid FC, who recently made a big donation to support Clean Water and Sanitation in Nigeria. In general, my plan for NIDOE is to make it stronger, united, and fit for the purpose for which it was founded over two decades ago.

 What is your position on the refusal of the National Assembly to pass the Diaspora Voting bill? What is NIDO’s plan on this?

The refusal of the National Assembly to pass the bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to provide for Diaspora Voting is quite disappointing and sad. I and my other colleagues united under the auspices of NIDO-Worldwide (i.e. NIDO-Europe, NIDO-Americas, NIDO-Asia, NIDO-Oceania, and NIDO-Africa) have officially expressed our dismay and outrage. As the first step of action, a protest letter had been sent to every member of the National Assembly, while the Presidency and other Diaspora stakeholders were copied. We had demanded that this rejection be revisited as a matter of urgency. The response from the National Assembly will determine our next line of action.

How can Nigerians in the Diaspora contribute more to the country’s development?

Aside from the remittances, which average over 20 billion annually, Nigerians have been contributing directly and indirectly to the development of Nigeria, economically and socially. So, the more the investment and security atmosphere in Nigeria improves, the more the contributions of the Nigerians in the Diaspora will increase. There are efforts to diversify the investment directions of the money from the Diaspora to enhance its productivity; there are Diaspora bonds, Diaspora Investment Fund, etc. being considered. All of these are to maximize the impact of Diaspora’s contribution to national development. Knowledge transfer in science and technology is also an area to be exploited more.

 What would be your advice to Nigerian youths aspiring to relocate from the country?

The economic and security situation in Nigeria has unfortunately contributed to the exodus of many Nigerian youths. This tendency is not good for the development of the country. The educated and skilled manpower is needed to improve the economy of the country. So, if all these promising youths continue to leave, then the future of the country might be endangered. However, should they still wish to relocate, I will advise that they don’t get too desperate, and they should shun illegal (irregular) migration with all its consequences.  

 How can Nigeria recover from its current parlous state and make meaningful progress?

Nigeria is over 60 years old as an independent country, but we are lagging in nation-building. The infrastructural and political foundations that will make the country develop faster are still lacking. There has been a lack of continuity and consistency in the policy and plans of the country, and this makes development impossible. Therefore, to change things around, there is a need for stability and consistency in the developmental agenda of governments at all levels. The country should be restructured so the states can develop at their own pace. Also, merit should be the basis for the recruitment of people into government offices.


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