Migration has been a very topical issue globally. In Nigeria, there have been continuous efforts to document the gains and pains of Emigration. Recently, attention is being drawn to a fresh initiative to rewrite the narrative with the Diaspora Option.
(In this interview, Radio Nigeria Lagos, Migration Correspondent, ABIOLA PETERS engaged Mr ADENIYI SANUSI
Executive Director/Founder, NGA Diaspora Project 40/40. The Romania based Public Relations Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NiDOE-Austria chapter), Secretary/Events Director, NiDO Europe Virtual Events and Associate Director at Diaspora Innovations Institute, also spoke on sundry issues).
Q1. What is NGA Diaspora Project 40/40 all about?
NGA Diaspora Project 40/40 is a social impact and creative Diaspora Engagement Initiative with the sole aim of bridging the existing gap between Nigerians living in Nigeria (Homeland) and Nigerians living abroad (Diaspora). NGA Diaspora Project 40/40 is in active collaborations with the Society of Young Nigerians in Diaspora for International Collaboration and Transnational Engagement, Friends of Nigeria (FON), Paris-France, Diaspora Innovations Institute, Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM), NIDOE-Belgium/Luxembourg chapter, NIDOE-Sweden chapter, and NIDOE-Greece chapter and other NIDO chapters globally.
The Nigeria Diaspora Project 40/40 Global Conference is a creative social impact Diaspora engagement project that aims to leverage the symbolism of the number 40 to inspire a new narrative for Nigeria and Nigerians in general. The first/upper 40; represents 40years of the “Nigerian Emigration Trends between 1981 – 2021“ the project seeks to highlight the major wave of emigration history of the Nigerian Diaspora specifically narrowing it down from 1981 till 2021 while the second/lower 40; represents 40 diaspora stories which will be crowd-sourced within the Nigerian Diaspora community across all relevant social media platforms in a strategically social media engagement format in order to highlight lessons learned and share migration tips and best practices for young Nigerians.
The Nigeria Diaspora Project 40/40 Global Conference is scheduled to hold on Saturday 2nd October 2021; LIVE & ONLINE (Simulcast/Hybrid). It will hold LIVE in Nigeria 10am at CMD, Magodo, and simultaneously ONLINE – Zoom webinar to be co-hosted by Belgium 11am (NIDOE-Belgium/Luxembourg); Austria 11 am (NIDOE-Austria); Sweden 11am (NIDOE-Sweden). The diaspora stories will eventually be published into a book in form of a manifesto and the compilation of 40 diaspora stories and it will be shared as a souvenir at the conference venue and the ebook will be available for download online via the project website – www.ngadiasporaproject4040.com to both Nigerians who the event physically and those in the diaspora. The 40 diaspora stories and lessons learnt will help to redefine the ‘Andrew checking out experience and also set the standard and new blueprint for the next generation of ‘Andrews’.
Q2. What’s your role in making Nigerians in Romania and Diaspora live as respectable people?
I consistently make efforts to look out for knowledge and information that can inspire creative alternative solutions to Nigeria’s national development especially in the midst of chaos, unfavourable national reputation, and negative news regardless of the prevailing circumstances.
Q3. What is the foreign policy direction between Nigeria and Romania and how well-executed are the agreements?
The foreign policy direction between Nigeria and Romania was really good in the time past and that was when the two (2) countries signed a Bilateral Trade agreement which formed the Nigerian Romanian Wood Industry limited (NIROWI) which was a joint venture between;
Federal Government of Nigeria;
BeebHoldings Ltd. (Chairman / MD – Chief Olabintan Famutimi);
Ondo State Government;
FOREXIM of Romania;
Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB); and
Nigerian Bank for Commerce & Industry (NBCI)
NIROWI was incorporated in 1974 as an integrated wood processing company in Forest Exploitation, Sawmilling, Plywood factory, Veneer factory, Furniture factory and Particleboard factory mainly for export of the finished products based on the findings outlined in the feasibility report carried out in 1973. It was strategically situated where the source of major raw material (wood) was readily available at KM2 Ondo-Akure Road, Ita, Ila in Ondo State, total area coverage of NIROWI is 49 hectares of land space.
In 1979, NIROWI began the production of wood, furniture, and plywood. NIROWI management shut down operation in 1997, less than 15years after the company began operations due to issues such as; Inconsistent and erratic power supply.
The rise in the felling and burning of economic trees and deforestation in almost all forest reserves across Nigeria
Activities of illegal operators who intrude the forest reserve
Mismanagement and inadequate working capital and frequent breakdown of plant and equipment
Fast forward to today, NIROWI has now become a moribund factory and shadow of itself instead of creating business opportunities and jobs for the Nigerian youth. This particular Bilateral Trade agreement between Nigeria and Romania was co-signed in Bucharest Romania by the then Federal Minister of Industries; Ms. Nike Akande on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Mr. Bujor Bogdan Teodoriu on behalf of the Government of Romania on 18th December 1998. The Bilateral Trade Agreement has a validity of 15years with a possibility of renewal upon expiration, however, it was not renewed or even activated since it expired on 18th December 2013.
Q4. Do you agree with the recent postulation that Nigeria has a fragile foreign policy that is responsible for the maltreatment of our nationals in foreign countries?
To a large extent, I think a lot has been done and I am very positive that a lot more needs to be done proactively and consciously done in the direction of Foreign Policy especially with regards to the Nigerian Government leveraging on its citizens’ Human Capital and focusing on skilling up the population in order to deliberately coordinate International Skilled Migration and earn consistent Diaspora remittances from the Diaspora option. The average Nigerian Skilled Migrants and professionals will eventually become Nigeria’s new Oil boom in terms of Diaspora remittances and Diaspora Direct Investment.
Q5. How can the menace of irregular migration and human trafficking be surmounted?
Irregular migration and human trafficking can be surmounted by creating a deliberate, realistic, and strategic roadmap that will bring all options on the table in order to plug any form of loopholes. Also, massive and creative public orientation alongside public awareness of the Nigerian public on the consequences of irregular migration will also provide other alternative options for the Regular Pathway to Migration and International Skilled Labour Migration. The agency responsible needs to also follow through with the activities of identified human traffickers as well as collaborate with key community stakeholders in order to tackle the issue from its roots.
Q6. As a PR expert, what are drastic and long-term steps to be taken by the government to resolve its worsening developmental challenges to give a positive signal to the international community?
I believe that the Nigerian Government should continue to look into National Rebranding efforts and be more deliberate about their activities as Government. Nigeria as a country has most of the brightest brains and minds in terms of reputation building and we can for sure leverage on the expertise of these patriotic citizens to reposition Nigeria as a country to do a proper image audit of the Nigerian National Reputation and make efforts to painstakingly redirect the focus the reputation of the country so as to attract positive reviews by the international community.
Q7. Afghanistan’s are fast-growing in numbers as refugees, owing to the takeover of that country by the Talibans. What are the lessons for Nigeria?
ICMPD (International Centre for Migration for Policy Development) Migration, Outlook 2021 Report predicted that Afghanistan has a total of 2.4 million registered refugees and an estimated 3.8 million internally displaced and that Afghan nationals form the second-largest refugee population in the world. Almost 90 % of these refugees are hosted by the neighbouring Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Consequently, that political instability, economic decline, and high unemployment will continue in 2021, keeping the potential for flight and irregular migration from Afghanistan itself and secondary movements from Pakistan and Iran towards Turkey and the EU at a high level. The surge in numbers trying to leave comes on top of the 2.2 million refugees already in neighbouring countries and 3.5 million people left homeless within Afghanistan’s borders as a result of ongoing conflict and political instability. Nigerian Government needs to pay closer attention to the security of its citizens and at the same time tackle the internal security and insurgent issues so as to avoid any form of regrouping and infiltration into the sovereignty of the Nigerian State by other international insurgency groups.