2016 Nigeria Diaspora Day, a big shame!
Sir: The 2016 Nigeria Diaspora Day has come and gone but its impact, though, negative, will continue to haunt the organisers of this badly and hurriedly organised conference.
From day one when the committee was set up in late June, barely a month to the slated date July 24 to 26, it had been programmed to fail.
It is painful and shameful that the only programme for Nigerians in the Diaspora, who had contributed a lot to national development including remittances of over $21 billion to the country, was shabbily planned and poorly executed.
It was more disastrous that most stakeholders were fenced out of the Diaspora Day conference unlike the successful 2015 Diaspora Day conference, where all stakeholders took active part.
One of the greatest flaws in this year’s Diaspora Day was that the portal for registration was not opened until about a week to the conference and it was not even functional for people to register for the conference.
Secondly, the invitation card for the conference was not made available until four days to the programme.
Thirdly, apart from the press conference held some six days to the conference, no proper awareness was given to 2016 Diaspora Day, thus shutting out many genuine Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in the event.
The aftermath was the recruitment of most Abuja-based so-called Nigerians in the Diaspora who were accredited to attend the occasion, in one of the small halls at the International Conference Centre unlike the 2015 conference held at the Aso Villa Banquet Conference Hall filled to capacity with genuine Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Even though the conference was planned for 500 delegates, less than 200 people who attended actually live in Nigeria, while the police and other secretariat staff filled the empty seats in the hall.
Besides, most stakeholders like the chairpersons of the Diaspora Committee of both the House of Representatives and that of the Senate were conspicuously absent as well as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora. It was indeed a shame!
A renowned Nigerian in the Diaspora, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, among others, was equally absent from the conference. The few who came, however, regretted their coming as they openly expressed disappointment at the shoddy arrangement.
Unlike in 2015, when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo represented the President, none of them was at the 2016 Diaspora conference which had as its theme: “Harnessing the Potentials of the Diaspora for National Development.’’
It is desirable that the organisation of subsequent Diaspora conferences should be handled by the real Nigerians in the Diaspora themselves as against Nigerian National Volunteer Service.
It will be of interest to members of the public to know how much of tax-payers’ money was wasted on this badly organised conference.
I hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to institute a panel to probe the activities of the 2016 Diaspora Day Conference so as to safeguard the country from the misfortune of a repeat in 2017.
Kemi Muritala, Abuja, FCT.