Senate Committee on Diaspora seeks to upgrade NIDCOM to a Ministry

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By Joy Odor

The newly appointed Chairman Senate Committee on Diaspora, NGOs and Civil Society, Senator Michael Ana-Nnachi has advocated the upgrade of the Nigerian in Diasporan Commission to a Ministry to meet it’s obligations to millions of citizens in foreign countries.

He also informed that India had to set up a full Ministry for Indians abroad for total inclusion of its diaspora.

Ana-Nnachi disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja during it’s Committee on the Diaspora had an engagement with the officials of the NIDCOM, led by its Chairman, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. at the National Assembly.

The panel in its reaction noted that the responsibilities placed on the NIDCOM was more than what an agency could handle.

The Committee members also suggested that the Technical Aids Corps should be under the direct supervision of NIDCOM.

The Chairman asked the Legal department of NIDCOM to liase with the National Assembly with a view to amending the Act that established it.

The Senator who was apparently happy with the activities of the Commission despite paucity of funds, wondered how it has been able to achieve such landmark achievements within the shortest period of its establishment.

He, advised that more structures be put in place to engage more Diaspora and assure them that their investments are safe back home.

Ana-Nnachi assured that the Senate will revisit the controversial issue of diaspora voting as well as issue of under funding of the Commission.

“The National Assembly is ready to support and work with you to make your agency a full-fledged ministry

“That would enable you to have adequate funding to sustain you and empower the agency to carry out it’s mandate.

“We believe that your agency has a lot of responsibilities to the Nigerian in the Diaspora. We need to encourage them to come and invest here.

“NIDCOM has a lot of roles to play. The leadership of the National Assembly will be interested in you delivering on your mandate.”

“You should consider having attaché across all embassies, as well as Diaspora Desks since NiDCOM is a grassroot agency”, he stated.

“There is the need to upgrade NIDCOM to a full-fleged ministry. The legal department should start work towards the review of the Act” he said

The lawmaker advised the Commission to come by way of proposing amendments to the Commission’s Act to capture all the missing links especially on Diaspora remittances.

Earlier, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa briefed the Committee on the activities of the Commission and pleaded with the Committee for more support especially in the areas of appropriation as the Commission cannot achieve anything with N8 million overhead and N40 million capital yearly so as to meet up with its set-up mandates.

“Our work is being done but there are numerous challenges, we need the support of this committee and we have to be intentional about overcoming them”, she appealed.

Other issues raised by the NIDCOM boss included the just rejected Diaspora Voting Bill, reassuring the lawmakers that there is nothing to worry about it as smaller countries in Africa does diaspora voting.

Dabiri-Erewa used the opportunity to reiterate her appeals to Nigerians abroad to be good ambassadors of the country by respecting the laws of their host countries thus creating good image for the country.

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