By Mohammed Mohammed
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration will continue to defend the interest of Nigerians wherever they may be, even as the nation begins the evacuation of citizens stranded in the aftermath of the happenings in Ukraine.
Buhari made this assertion Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya at a Townhall Meeting with a group of Nigerians resident in the country.
According to him: “on our part as a Government, we shall continue to defend the interests of all Nigerians wherever they may be. We have demonstrated this over time, as we have had cause to evacuate our citizens in harm’s way abroad. We did it in Libya, South Africa and we have just commenced doing the same in Ukraine, where thousands of our citizens, especially students, are trapped by the on-going war between Russia and Ukraine.”
He commended the diasporans in Kenya for the unity that exists among them, and peace with their host communities, urging them to respect the laws and be good ambassadors of Nigeria.
Buhari who was represented at the event by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffery Onyeama, reiterated that it was the determination of the current administration to forge a partnership with the ‘Ambassadors-at large’ towards building the country together that led to the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
He expressed delight that the Commission had been engaging the diasporans and had also come up with laudable programmes that would appeal to them.
According to the President, as part of his diasporan agenda, “we expect your willingness to ‘give back’ to Nigeria, some of your resources, talents, skills and global exposure in the development of our great country, Nigeria.”
He, therefore, encouraged the Ambassadors to key into the programmes of NiDCOM especially the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund whose mandate is holistic for all Nigerians abroad adding that the platform would assist them to expeditiously contribute to the development of their fatherland.
The President assured them that the administration is forging ahead with the provision of critical infrastructure for the collective prosperity of all despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and activities of terrorists.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, appreciated the Ambassadors for honouring the invitation, urging them to register with the Commission in order to have an up- to-date database of them for easy interface, adding that working with them, the Nigerian government will build the country of our dreams.
Dr Nicholas Ozor, the president of Nigerians in Diaspora (Kenya) on behalf of the diasporans expressed his appreciation to the President for always meeting with them when he is in the country as this boosts their morale. He appreciated efforts of the Nigerian High Commission officials for their support and care.
Dr Ozor however requested the President to intervene in some of the challenges confronting them, such as; the stoppage of visa on arrival for Nigerians; delay in getting student permits; obstacles to ease of doing business, and undue negative profiling of Nigerians.
Also present at the occasion were the Minister of State for the Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, National Security Adviser, Maj.Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), and Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
The Special Adviser to the President, on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, signed the statement on behalf of FG.