Wednesday, May 22, 2024

"I wish to assure you of our support and endorsement of this project as well as our preparedness to ensure its success."

The Presidency, Abuja, Nigeria.


Leaders of the Nigerian Diaspora from Europe and the Americas converged with Nigerian Ambassadors from Europe and Nigerian leaders from home to mark the formal launch of the Global Database of Nigerians in the Diaspora (GDND) on Saturday 21 February 2009. Hosted by the Nigeria High Commissioner to the Court of St. James’s (London), Senator (Dr) Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, and sponsored by Fidelity Bank Plc of Nigeria, Bank PHB, and United Bank of Africa, the event took place at the banquet hall of Savoy Place, overlooking the famous Thames River. Conceived and developed by the European arm of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization (NIDO), the project was unveiled and launched by the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, CFR.

In his welcome remarks, the Chairman of the Board of NIDO-Europe, Dr John George, extolled the GDND as one project that has found acceptance and support among the various Nigerian organizations around the world. “Never again,” George declared, would any government or private entity in Nigeria “have cause to seek expatriates to come and do work for lack of qualified Nigerians. The GDND, once fully subscribed and operational, would avail Nigerians the database from which to draw distinguished Nigerians in the Diaspora to come home and contribute to national development.” Trained as a medical doctor in the Ukraine, George has since left medicine and become a fulltime industrialist. He is the sole owner of Rotex Group of Companies in Eastern Europe, a division of which is the largest distributor for building hardware in Ukraine. The company has lately extended her operations to Nigeria under the trade name Rotex Capital Industries Limited.

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Prior to the unveiling of the project, Mr. Sebastian Udeajah, software developer and GDND Committee Chairman, walked the audience through a power-point explanation of the computer programming that went into the project. “Security of your information is paramount in the GDND design, so you can be assured that no one can tamper with the information you submit when you sign up for the GDND. In fact the data is under the protection and regulation of the United Kingdom Data Protection Commission, which is one of the most trusted in the world,” Udeajah told the audience. A highly recommended and experienced computer engineer, Udeajah revealed that all the Nigerian technicians who are working on the project with him are doing so free of charge to NIDO-Europe.

Dr Tafida, the High Commissioner in the UK and former Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria, assured NIDO and Nigerians in general that they could count on his support and that of his colleagues around the world to enable the GDND meet the stated goals for the project. He encouraged Nigerians to commence registration immediately.

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Speaker Dimeji Bankole, unveiled the project on a large screen in the hall, to the delight of many. Stating that “We have come to pick your brains,” Bankole surprised many by declaring that the governments of Nigeria can no longer meet all of the developmental needs of the nation. “We need your resources, your ideas, and access to your contacts,” the Speaker said. Bankole said that the House of Representatives has demonstrated its own seriousness about the Nigerian Diaspora by establishing the first-ever House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, chaired by Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa. The Honorable Dabiri-Erewa and many of her colleagues were in attendance. In his remarks that carried over from a town hall meeting the day before, held at the Nigeria High Commission Banking Hall, Bankole said “Now it’s in your hands. If you want change, you must come home and make it happen. If you want power, you must come home and grab it; no one will give it to you. Give us your ideas and resources and we will provide the legislative backing that would enable you to make your contributions to national development.”

Over ten Nigerian Ambassadors, heads of missions and high Commissioners from Europe attended the event, including Dr. Nimota Akanbi of the Hague, Dr. Jerry Ugokwe of Austria and Slovakia, Mr. Kasai of the Ukraine, Ms Mamuno of Poland, Dr. Etim Uye of Greece, and Mr. Usman Baraya of Brussels, Luxembourg & EU, Gordon Bristol of Paris, Mr A Bin Rindap (represented by Minister Okoye) of Berlin, and Amb. Ayalogu (retired) whose last posting was to Switzerland. The Ambassadors were introduced by Mr. Collins Nweke, General Secretary of NIDO-Europe, who stressed the “importance of having the support, participation and facilitation of Nigerian Ambassadors all over the world if the GDND project is to succeed” Trained in International Business and Political Economy, Collins is Policy & International Development Expert and made history when he was elected in 2006 as the first ethnic minority to the Social Affairs Council of Ostend City Council of Belgium. He is the Founder of Global Village Belgium and Global Village Consult Nigeria.

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Speaking for Fidelity Bank Plc, Ms. Irunna Ejibe, Head of Diaspora Banking for the Nigerian financial institution, said that the bank’s sponsorship for the GDND was in keeping with their established status as “The community bank of the Nigerian Diaspora.” She walked the audience of about 150 people through the bank’s many services, including financing options for developmental projects and other entrepreneurial activities. “We are the only financial sponsors of GDND present at this launching today, and we hope this demonstrates that we mean business.”

Speaker Dimeji Bankole was presented with an award from NIDO in recognition of the House of Representatives’ leadership in establishing a Committee on the Diaspora. Also presented with an award was the Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe CFR for instituting Citizen Diplomacy in Nigeria. In both cases the awards were presented by Dr. John George of NIDO-Europe and Dr. Garba Lawal, Co-coordinator of NIDO-America.

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The historic London gathering was moderated by Dr. Ugorji O. Ugorji, Executive Director of the Princeton, New Jersey-based African Writers Endowment, Inc. Acknowledged as an authority and one of the most recognized names in the global Nigerian Diaspora movement, Ugorji assured the audience that Nigerians in the Diaspora have in their own hands part of the power to remake the image of the country. Bringing greetings from Nigerian compatriots in the Americas, he said that “In the afterglow of a son of Africa becoming the leader of the free world, the largely untold stories of Nigerians making remarkable contributions to the improvement of the human condition, is going to get a little easier to tell.” He commended the disciplined, determined, and model leadership of NIDO-Europe in the development of the GDND.

For further clarification on the GDND, please contact the General Secretary of NIDO Europe, Collins Nweke on telephone +32 498 345 889 or by email secretariat[at]nidoeurope[dot]org Technical enquiries should be directed to the Director of ICT, Dr Aderemi Ojo and the Chairman Database Committee, Engr. Sebastian Udeajah by email ict[at]nidoeurope[dot]org London, United Kingdom, 24 January 2009 Compiled in association with Media Partner Tall Drums and approved by: John George Chairman Board of Trustees Collins Nweke General Secretary

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