The Federal Government is to establish a Diaspora Commission that will harmonise the contributions of Nigerians living abroad and ensure proper documentation of their input in the affairs of the nation as key stakeholders.
The first indication of this was dropped late last year by the foreign Ministry and the plan is being given a further impetus to show the government’s preparedness for the commission.
Acting President Jonathan during his recent visit to the United States further emphasized the plan..
The need for the recognition of the nation’s Disporeans to be recognised b y the country has form the chores of recent debate in public fora by Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation(NIDEO) Mr Alistair Soyode and Chairman of the House Committee on Dispora, Dame Aaabike Dabira- Ereja.
Addressing the Nigerian Community in Washington DC on Wednesday to round off his official visit the United States, Acting President Jonathan said the establishment of the commission would enable the government have proper records of the contributions of Nigerian citizens abroad.
“We want to upgrade the Diaspora department in foreign affairs to the level of a commission to coordinate experts in the Diaspora. We are looking at establishing the commission before the end of this administration, in the next 12 months,” he said.
Jonathan applauded the roles and contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora saying that they have become some of the best in their chosen professions across the globe.
He said the government will continue to acknowledge the contributions of these noteworthy ambassadors, while thanking them for promoting the country’s image internationally.
He urged the Diaspora not to relent in making positive contributions towards nation-building, noting that the task of swapping the negative perception about Nigeria with a positive image requires collective responsibility.
The forum afforded Nigerians in the US the platform to interact firsthand with the Acting President and ask questions on the state of the nation.
Jonathan in turn acquainted them on the state of the nation as well as government measures to improve the quality of life of Nigerians.
On the power sector, Jonathan said government is in the process of diversifying the sources of power generation, and is putting in place relevant legislations and enabling conditions to promote public-private partnership to boost the sector.
“The compelling need to introduce a concept to ensure efficiency in the sector informed my decision to personally oversee the ministry of power,” he said.
On the 2011 polls, Jonathan reassured Nigerians: “We are confident that the 2011 elections will be better than previous ones held in Nigeria.”
He said the Federal Government is taking bold steps to revamp the poor state of infrastructure in the country by embarking on major construction and expansion particularly in transportation, healthcare and education.
On corruption, Jonathan urged the Diaspora:“You must not only shun corruption but join in efforts to combat it. You have roles in this crusade, including acting as whistle blowers and providing relevant information to track and prosecute corrupt Nigerians.”
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, said Jonathan’s visit to US has given tremendous boost to the country’s image abroad, making Nigerians in Diaspora hold their heads high once again in national pride.
Nigerians who spoke at the occasion applauded the progress government is making to get the country out of the woods.
They generally commended the Acting President for steps taken since his assumption of office to stabilize the country and keep it on the path to progress.
Earlier in the day, Jonathan was Special Guest at a luncheon organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) where he described the recent signing of the Agreement on the Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission as a historic feat that reflects the high level friendship and collaboration that exists between Nigeria and the US.
“The Bi-National agreement demonstrates the determination of our two governments to increase and strengthen bilateral cooperation on a vast array of issues of mutual interest. Both the USA and Nigeria have a responsibility to ensure its success,” he stated.
The Corporate Council on Africa was established in 1993 to strengthen and facilitate commercial trade relationships between Africa and the United States.
It usually holds programmes with visiting African leaders, ministers, US and African private sector players and multilateral agencies.