BusinessDay

African Diaspora Festival – Nigeria is a crawling superpower

Nigeria is a crawling superpower with lots of potentials. You would disagree with where Nigeria is compared to where she should be if you judge the scoreline by the current situation in the country. A country with enormous resources – human capital and mineral endowments – yet struggling with security, corruption, and possible disintegration, courtesy of the inherent poor political leadership.

We don’t have a problem with our leaders; the problem is our leadership as a country. It is what we allowed that we are manifesting. Despite the sad story, if you compare Nigeria with Singapore, Rwanda, Ghana, and the likes, the love of Nigeria by Nigerians in the diaspora is unquantifiable.

I was at the recent African Diaspora Festival held July 2, 2022, in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, to celebrate with Africans and their friends. The event, which is always carnival-like, has numerous African countries showcasing their culture, food, and music. Nigeria was among the African countries on parade. Not only on parade but parade with enthusiastic love, strength, and passion courtesy of the Nigerian community living in Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, and the environs. The atmosphere was fun and attestation to Africa as a continent of pride and bravery.

The enthusiasm of the individual team member to either wave the green-white-green flag, dance, or beat the local made drums cannot be compared to the powerless pre- and post-election promises of our leaders at home

Nigerians ‘no dey carry’ last. The team Nigeria led by Roland Alade, the chairperson of the Nigerian Community Milton Keynes, shown like a rainbow. The parade started with music, dance, and the subsequent calling of African countries to come to the stage. There were exciting agitations among the Nigerian team while waiting to mount the stage. Some felt Nigeria should be the first to be called to the parade first being the giant of Africa or for having the largest contingent of representatives. Nigeria’s team, like other teams, comprises young, older men and women who never relinquish their love for a country in numerous troubles.

The enthusiasm of the individual team member to either wave the green-white-green flag, dance, or beat the local made drums cannot be compared to the powerless pre and post-election promises of our leaders at home. The genuine display of affection by the action of team Nigeria cannot be compared with the tenuity of love of the political leaders when they promise to apprehend bandits, kidnappers, and perpetrators of crimes in Nigeria, yet fail to solve problems decimating the giant into a dwarf.

As a business consultant, I know for any business to be global, dominating the home market is a prerequisite. I reiterated this point strongly in one of my speaking engagements with the Nigerian community in Canada. Rwanda is winning at home. Ghana and Tanzania are making progress. The exception is Nigeria, which is losing the battle at home yet with diaspora groups winning abroad. Nigerians in the diaspora are winning with their love and belief for Nigeria despite the increased rate of ‘Japa’.

At the African Diaspora Festival, the Nigerians were represented marvellously. As the team danced and showcased how big Nigeria is with its size and broad representations of Nigerians, I wonder if our leaders have similar love and commitment to solving our problems back home. Yet there are people with an undying love for a father that is unsafe to visit or do business with. Here are people with concerns for the safety of their family at home, yet with unflinching representation for their fatherland. I wish Nigeria is peaceful, stable and with institutions and leadership that count, especially in turbulent times. How I wish Nigeria is making progress in security to add to the joy and vigour of her team at the African Diaspora Festival in Milton Keynes. How I wish we were truly the giant of Africa as represented at the festival.

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The love for Nigeria will not wane if we continue to clamour for good leadership. There was a time when Abike Dabiri-Erewa was chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity. Her stride in giving a positive voice to the House of Rep and initiating the ‘We serve you’ project projected her to be appointed as the chairman of a newly constituted Committee on Diaspora Affairs in 2009.

She started a new portfolio leading the relationship between Nigeria and Nigerians in the diaspora. The cash remittance of Nigerians in the diaspora to Nigeria was at the highest peak of $23.55 billion from 2019 to 2021. Creating momentum is an essential tool for leaders. Abike created awareness and momentum for her committee, which led to the creation of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission. She has been leading the commission as its pioneer chairman and CEO since. Her case exemplifies how a person’s passion and commitment can make a difference even in a challenging environment.

Our diaspora team is part of our strengths as a country. We are represented in all the nations, and there is an established relationship with Abike’s team in Nigeria. The effects of the diaspora home remittances, mainly on the support economy (house rent, monthly food and other consumables), cannot be ignored. All we desire is an atmosphere for Nigerians in the diaspora to invest more in Nigeria. That can only happen with improved governance and security of lives, not as it has been in the last ten years.

We haven’t gotten it right since independence, especially in the areas of managing our diversity. We have taken a step forward and many backwards due to the politics of ethnicity and religion bewildering our leadership selection process. We are also battling with the same cabal of leaders who have taken advantage of our people to amass wealth, perpetuate poverty, insecurity and themselves in office and are now recycling their families and children in public positions. With the display of love and representation for Nigeria at the African Diaspora Festival in Milton Keynes, Nigerians abroad are ready to invest and contribute to the development of Nigeria if we get the leadership right.

Until the political leaders see Nigeria as one without the unnecessary entitlement of an ethnic or religion to lead or dominate the governance of the country, we cannot maximise the potential of our diaspora team, which is readily available to complement our efforts in developing and achieving the sustainable development goals in the best interests of Nigeria.

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