The Nigerian Senate has voiced its concerns regarding the limited budgetary allocation to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM). This revelation comes as Senator Victor Umeh, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Diaspora Affairs and Non-Governmental Organizations, pledged the Senate’s unwavering support to bolster the Commission’s ability to fulfill its set objectives.
In a statement released by Abdurrahman Balogun, the head of the media, public relations, and protocol unit, Senator Umeh conveyed this assurance during a maiden interactive session between the committee and Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, and the top management staff of the Commission.
Senator Umeh, along with fellow committee members, including Sen. Seriake Dickson and Sen. Ibrahim Dakwambo, expressed astonishment at the meager budgetary allocation to the Commission, considering its visible activities and interventions in diaspora affairs.
The purpose of the Chairman/CEO’s invitation to the committee was to provide them with an in-depth understanding of the Commission, its challenges, prospects, and areas where assistance, particularly during the appropriation period, could be extended.
While commending Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa for her dynamic leadership and prudent management that has positively portrayed Nigeria despite financial constraints, the lawmakers also requested information regarding the conditions of Nigerians held in Ethiopian prisons.
Dabiri-Erewa conveyed her heartfelt gratitude for the consistent support and collaborative spirit demonstrated by the committee over the years, which has enabled the Commission to persevere despite the challenges it faces.
The NIDCOM Chairman highlighted some of the major programs and achievements of the Commission since its inception four years ago. These include the approval of the Diaspora Policy by the Federal Executive Council, the establishment of the Diaspora Data Mapping Portal, the annual Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit, National Diaspora Day, Badagry Door of Return, the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund, Diaspora Focal Point Officers, Diaspora Presidential Town Hall Meeting, and National Diaspora Merit Awards, among others.
However, Dabiri-Erewa also underscored the adverse impact of low budgetary allocation, the lack of proper office accommodations, and financial constraints on the Commission’s optimal performance.
Regarding Nigerians incarcerated in Ethiopian prisons, she explained that previous efforts were made to decongest these facilities through a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and Ethiopia. Unfortunately, this process was left incomplete before the last administration’s tenure ended. Most Nigerians in these prisons had been detained for drug-related offenses and fraudulent activities, she added.
The Senate’s expressed concern and commitment to addressing the budgetary challenges faced by NIDCOM signal a potential shift in the allocation of resources to support the Commission in its efforts to serve the Nigerian diaspora effectively.