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Kenneth Gbandi: The man who does not want Abike Dabiri’s head

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Our attention has been drawn to an article titled: Kenneth Gbandi: The man who wants Abike Dabiri’s head, written by one Omogbolahan Babs and published on the Opinion page of May 15, 2020 edition of The Guardian. Ordinarily, one would have ignored the vituperation and infantile outburst of that hack writer, but for the many misrepresentations, disinformation and distortions peddled in the write-up. Babs in that publicity stunt for his principal, CEO/Chairman, Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, threw caution and civility to the winds and toed the path of infamy in his ill-intentioned mission to blackmail and portray our Chairman, Nigerians In Diaspora Europe(NIDOE), Hon Kenneth Gbandi, as a power monger. Still, notwithstanding the much he laboured to hoodwink the unsuspecting average reader through his warped logic laced with gutter language, the more Babs ended up raking up many unanswered questions. Babs asserted that Hon Gbandi, ‘’a Germany-based self –acclaimed head of NIDOE’’ and his ‘foot soldiers’ wanted to hijack NIDCOM and make it a subset of NIDO, adding that the same Gbandi desperately wants to bulldoze his way into the NIDCOM board.

Not yet done with his hatchet man’s job, he ludicrously claimed that Gbandi initiated a sham Diaspora Housing Project “to bamboozle only the gullible’’ We make bold to say that, there is no iota of truth in Babs’ claims; there are wooly tales from Alice Wonder land and only fit for the marines. Let it be echoed that Hon Gbandi is not a self-styled NIDOE leader; he was duly elected as the NIDOE’s helmsman, a position he has held for two terms of six years due to his meritorious service. From its inception, the NIDOE chapter operates a democratic and transparent system, as the association remains an assemblage of sophisticated Nigerians who will never condone any form of imposition. Also, the assertion that Gbandi and his ’’foot soldiers” plotted to subordinate NIDCOM statutory powers to NIDO, is one of Babs’ many concocted lies. Hon Gbandi, as one of the founding members of the reborn NIDO, fully understands that NIDCOM is the supervisory authority for NIDO and therefore, would never have plotted to scuttle this established status quo.

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That Gbandi desperately wants to be on the yet-to-be constituted NIDCOM board, is another fairly tale, aimed at cajoling the less discerning minds to believe that the NIDOE leader is a desperado. This was yet another attempt by Babs to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. For the avoidance of doubt, after the appointment of the NIDCOM Chairman, and in line with Article 2c, the NIDOE’s Board of Trustees nominated Gbandi and another official to be on the NIDCOM’s board when it is eventually constituted. However, Gbandi who was nominated in absentia, (he was in Nigeria on NIDOE working tour), on his return to Europe, declined the offer, insisting that he wanted to devote ample time and energies to partner other stakeholders to ensure a more responsive NIDO World wide. On Babs’ touted sham Diaspora Housing Project, again, he deliberately chose to be economical with the truth, as the housing project is on course. It was launched in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2017 and the project was lauded by NIDCOM CEO/Chairman, the then Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to President on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs. To the credit of the NIDOE leadership, a $2.3billion Humanitarian NIDOE/Phymus Housing fund has been secured from the United States.

The scheme will not only deliver over 650,000 affordable housing units in 10 years, but also create millions of jobs for Nigerians. To justify their campaign of calumny against Gbandi who is central to this laudable project, Babs whose principal lauded the scheme as worthwhile three years ago, now chose to play the ostrich by tagging it a sham. What inconsistencies! It must be emphasized that there are nothing personal between Gbandi and the NIDCOM CEO/Chairman. Their disagreement stems from Gbandi’s resolve to speak out on the commission’s many breaches, a stance Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa views as an affront. The NIDOE chairman insists that the commission adhere strictly to the dictates of the NIDCOM Act in relation to NIDO as the umbrella body of Nigerians abroad. It an open secret that given her actions and utterances, the NIDCOM Chairman is uncomfortable with the cohesive and independent-minded NIDO (an umbrella body of over 5O chapters of various professional and corporate bodies of Nigerians abroad.) She has therefore, set out on a self-serving mission of dismounting NIDO, and its place, install pliable, docile and ineffectual micro Diaspora groups.

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To actualise her clandestine motive, the NIDCOM Chairman now surreptitiously interprets ONLY a few sections of the NIDCOM Act that suits her whims and caprices. She has continued to carry on this her diabolical act to a ridiculous end, echoing to everyone who cares to listen that, many other small Diaspora groups have equal right of representation with NIDO, a position which runs foul of the NIDCOM Act. She has also chosen to ignore the fact that NIDO is an amalgam of the various splinter groups in Diaspora who join the association as corporate bodies Again, only NIDCOM Chairman can answer the question of how the commission can effectively interface with thousands of splinter groups, without running into the problem of coordination of these countless organisations. We are even more alarmed by NIDCOM CEO’s double speak, as in one breath, she acknowledges NIDO as the umbrella body for Nigerians abroad, like she did at a recent town hall meeting in United States, but sings a different tune the next minute. However, to further buttress the fact that NIDO remains the apex body for Nigerians in Diaspora, the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No 67, Vol104, NIDCOM Act, Page (A186 2017 No 15), Article 2c, states clearly: two representatives each from Nigerians In Diaspora Organisations in North America, South America, Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe shall consist of the board. The chairman and members of the commission shall be appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate. Notwithstanding the provision of this section, the appointment under sub section (1) shall be on recommendation made by continental NIDO.

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From the foregoing, it is clear that the composition of NIDCOM board and its functions are clearly stated in its Act. For the NIDCOM CEO to continue to deny as fallacy the two representatives of the Diaspora in six continents’ provision in the Commission Act, as implying that NIDOE is clamouring for exclusive participation of ONLY ONE Diaspora organization, is most preposterous. It is imperative to state here that NIDCOM was set up primarily to coordinate and provide organised system of collaboration of Nigerians aboard, with a view to mobilizing the human capital and material resources for homeland development. It is also an incontestable fact that NIDO Worldwide remains a dependable engine to drive the laudable vision behind the setting up of NIDCOM. It therefore, smacks of ignorance veiled in the form of arrogance for NIDCOM’s Chairman to continue to undermine this global body. We advise Hon. Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa to focus on how to leave lasting legacies as the NIDCOM chief, and not to dissipate energy and time fighting needless media wars against real and imaginary enemies. She can itch her name in gold if she genuinely partners NIDO and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy inauguration of the commission’s board. She must not continue to give the impression that she is comfortable running a one man show, or is she buying time to first soak NIDO and substitute it with chosen groups filled with her loyalists who will equally be nominated to NIDCOM board?

The NIDCOM Chairman need to expeditiously dismount her high horse and accept the inexplicable reality that she may never actualize NIDCOM’s mandate if she continues to play the haughty headmaster via her divide and rule tactics. Let it be amplified here, Hon Gbandi does not want Abike Dabiri’s head; she should rather deploy her head for rigorous planning and constructive engagement on how best to realize the goals of NIDCOM. She should desist from engaging hack writers and carpet baggers to malign and blackmail anyone who has contrary views from hers; to do so is to denigrate her exalted office and ultimately, drag it into opprobrium.

Oghene is a member of Nigerian Professional & Entrepreneurs Forum Europe, UK Chapter.

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