Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa can be described as a strong woman in the midst of millions of active men. She always comes up with creative solutions, stays positive even during hard times, and looks so impressive that little girls want to be like her when they grow up.
She is successively taking on the challenges of her motherland, pushing the boundaries of activism and representation, and being an all-round Amazon. When some Nigerians hear ‘number one tough cookie’ as a nickname for this ever-solid woman, they nod their heads and agree that she is indeed tough to crack but can be relied on to be nothing other than herself.
The war in Ukraine has taught Nigerians many things, including the need to appreciate their peaceful—if leisurely developing—nation. However, while some Nigerians feel sorry for their fellow citizens trapped in Ukrainian soil, others are having a good time stoking schadenfreude in their hearts. But not Dabiri-Erewa or the Nigerians in Diaspora (NiDCOM) team that she leads.
Thanks to the timely intervention by Dabiri-Erewa and company, most Nigerians in Ukraine, especially the students, are back on Nigeria’s shores. Along with gratitude at the prayers that the more compassionate Nigerians back home offered to God on their behalf, these students are beset with joy. After all, as long as there is life, the possibilities for change are endless.
This is something that Dabiri-Erewa has shown time and again: a determined heart will accomplish great things regardless of opposition. It is consequently no surprise she has managed to exceed expectations over and over again. And just when you think a particular challenge will topple her, Dabiri-Erewa turns it into a victory song and the international community is reminded of a force in Nigeria called NiDCOM and a controller surnamed Dabiri-Erewa.
There are women and there are women, some of whom are metallic in their disposition, cold to the touch, and inclined to smite others. Then there are those with a wooden personality, gentle, reliable, but also seemingly uninteresting. Then there are the precious stones like Dabiri-Erewa who have gone through more fire and pressure than their peers. Any wonder that Dabiri-Erewa is still on top of her game?
She knows what she wants, can get her shit together and put the amount of hard work into project in order to get the desired results. She doesn’t pretend to be weak to make others do her job for her, but she delegates tasks when necessary.
An indigene of Ikorodu from the famous Erogbogbo family in Lagos State, she has, right from her childhood till date, been a front-liner, a go-getter, an ice breaker, a workaholic, a detribalised Nigerian, a patriotic citizen and a devoted servant of Allah.
There are not enough words to fully describe this ebullient woman of substance who has consistently demonstrated her efficiency and diligence right from her eventful years at NTA till her sojourn in politics, which made her a three-time parliamentarian in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015, representing her people in Ikorodu Federal Constituency, where she played an active and impactful role in all the national assignments she was given.
Her trademark diligence and dynamism were further brought to bear when she was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs from 2016 to 2019. This office later metamorphosed into the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) where she is currently serving as the pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and where she has continued to play her role diligently, effectively and inspirational.
On March 24, 2022, the authorities of Lagos State University bestowed on her a Honorary Doctorate Degree during its 25th Convocation ceremony, an award that award changed her nomenclature to Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. It was one honour too distinctive so truly well-deserved and so uncommonly well-appreciated.
For those who have been following the selfless, proactive, exemplarily motivational life of Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa, would have seen that it has been rewarded and appreciated with too many awards, honours and recognition of excellence which are, in fact, too numerous to list.
Of all of the awards she has been honoured with over the years, undoubtedly, this latest one, OON, inspires a high sense of fulfillment and elation that comes to one when one’s nation honours a person. This is what Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa must have felt when she got the surprise nomination letter on October 8, 2022. Of all the awards, honours and recognitions since she has received from 2003 till date, none has changed her status and her nomenclature more profoundly than this latest one; hence, its uniqueness.
An admirer of Abike Dabiri-Erewa said this of the harvest of awards and honours: “It is indeed an honour well-deserved. She has come a long way. She has paid her dues. She has breasted the inclement weather of the media profession, especially in this clime. I still remember her days with NTA. Confident reporter. She made reporting look easy. Congratulations sister. Barakalah fihi.”
Even more remarkably, in his congratulatory message, President Buhari believes Dabiri-Erewa’s sincerity of purpose, meticulous handling of sensitive issues, and capacity to share her vision and others along easily pedestal her for leadership positions, extolling her skillful handling of the Diaspora family and building a mutually beneficial relationship with the government and citizens at home.
‘I just sit and hope’: A Sierra Leonean mother’s refugee story
Standing in the drizzle outside the Tunis office of the International Organization for Migration, Saffiatu Mansaray is staring down at her swollen stomach.
On the other side of the alley, her husband works alongside other undocumented people, building a plastic-covered wooden shelter for refugees whose stay in Tunis is continuing with no end in sight.
The couple have come to Tunisia from Sierra Leone and are hoping to get to Europe. But the longer they remain stuck here, the more anxious Saffiatu, 32, is growing about her pregnancy.
“I am seven months gone,” she says, one hand resting protectively on her belly. “I have been here since February.”
Before embarking on a journey she knew could be lethal, she left two children in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, with an aunt. The memory is still fresh in her mind.
Saffiatu and her husband have found other difficulties in Tunisia. They were living in the port city of Sfax until a couple of months ago when the police came for them. She’s not sure when that was exactly.
“The police catch us and take us to the desert,” she says. “They will come again.”
That was the second time Saffiatu found herself on the Tunisian-Algerian border after crossing from Sierra Leone, which she left with her husband in November.
This time, she, her husband and the others who were herded onto a bus by the Tunisian security services in Sfax found themselves alone and vulnerable to gangs of “bad boys” she says operate in the forest near Tunisia’s northern border with Algeria. These gangs prey on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, stealing their phones and any money or valuables they have with them.
“We walked back by foot [from the Algerian border]. Some people die. Some people get sick,” she says with a passive shrug. She describes how the group was later intercepted on their journey by the police before being returned to the border. “I got sick,” she says. “I had pains all over, under my stomach. This was three weeks ago. It was cold.”
Saffiatu’s parents still live in Freetown. Her father, who is 70, is too frail to work in construction any longer. Saffiatu says she would like to send money back, but with no work available to her or her husband in Tunis and a baby on the way, there is none to spare. “I sit over there and beg. Every day I beg. I will tell them, ‘Mon ami, ca va?’ [‘How are you, my friend?’] Some people give me one dinar, some two dinars [33 or 65 United States cents]. So for the day, I survive.”
On the other side of the alley, a rough shelter is beginning to take shape. The wood has been salvaged from construction sites and repurposed pallets and is being wrapped in thick black plastic that those living in the cold alley have pooled their meagre resources to buy.
“If God grants me the wish, I will continue to Europe. There is no work for any of us here,” Saffiatu says. “Up until now, I see no doctor, no nurse, nothing. I just sit and hope.”
This article is the first of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
How Nigerian Embassy In Chad Donates Relief Materials To Baga Sola Refugee Camp To Mark 63rd Independence Anniversary
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Republic of Chad, has donated relief materials worth millions of naira to Dar Salam Refugee Camp Baga-Sola, Republic of Chad, to mark the occasion of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary.
The Ambassador of Nigeria to the Republic of Chad, Ambassador Lami Sauda Remawa-Ahmed and the Nigerian delegation, visited Dar Salam refugee camp Baga-Sola to make the donations on Thursday 5th October 2023.
According to the Ambassador, the Nigerian government will continue to work with and support the government of Chad in all its efforts towards hosting refugees displaced by insecurity in the Lake Chad, including providing relief materials, making them self-reliant and restoring their dignity by ensuring their return home.
“I am most delighted to have this opportunity to visit the Dar Salam Refugee Camp in Baga-Sola and address you on the severe humanitarian challenge we are collectively facing, with respect to the displacement of our people living in the Lake Chad Region, due to insurgency and widespread terrorist activities in the region. The refugee issue is a global challenge requiring a multipronged approach to resolve.
“We come to you in the spirit of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence anniversary, with a message of hope. We, the Nigerian Embassy in N’djamena, Chad are reaching out to you this day as part of the activities marking Nigeria’s liberation from colonial rule some 63 years ago on the 1st of October 1960,” she said.
“Let me leave you with some words of encouragement from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the occasion of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence. The President acknowledges the hardships many Nigerians face and has reaffirmed his concerns for the plight of the poor masses. Mr. President stated, and I quote, “To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground. This new administration has instituted some reforms which may be painful, but is what greatness and the future require as we must now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all.” He reiterated his vow to Nigerians, to “serve the people with all conscientiousness as one who will not erect our national home on a foundation of mud. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past”. Ambassador Remawa-Ahmed conveyed President Tinubu’s reaffirmation of according the highest priority to the safety and security of Nigerians, and his acknowledgment and commendation of the sacrifices of the military forces.
“The Nigerian Government is working tirelessly in collaboration with the Republic of Chad, other neighboring countries, UNHCR, CNARR and other regional and national agencies, to improve your quality of life and facilitate your resettlement back home.
“Today, we come with a little token to assist in addressing some of your basic needs, which include food items and essential supplies. It is hoped that these relief materials will provide you with some immediate succor while all hands remain on deck to reach a lasting solution to the challenge at hand.”
The Ambassador commended the government of Chad for accommodating a large number of refugees of different nationalities within the Chadian territory.
She said: “Chad, is currently hosting about 1.1 million forcibly displaced persons in its territory. This act shows the Chadian Government’s magnanimity in its policy of accepting and catering for refugees from neighboring countries despite the huge financial, logistic and social strain this large number of refugees pose to the Country.”
Amongst the refugees accommodated in Chad, are about 14,000 Nigerians displaced from their local communities due to insecurity in the Northeastern part of the country. These Nigerian refugees and a host of others from different neighbouring countries have over the years, been accommodated and catered for by the Chadian government and people.”
“The Federal Republic of Nigeria most sincerely appreciates the Government of Chad and our Chadian brothers and sisters, for their good neighborliness and unwavering support to Nigeria as we work hand in hand to address this menace of insurgency and insecurity, as well as the resulting humanitarian challenge of displaced persons.”
Remawa-Ahmed extolled the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Chadian National Commission for the Reception and Reintegration of Refugees and Returnees (CNARR). Both organizations are dedicated to saving lives, protecting the rights of the defenseless, and building a better future for those forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution.
She stressed that the efforts of the organizations in Chad to support refugees fleeing violence in neighboring countries are remarkable.
“We appreciate your efforts and reiterate the willingness of the Nigerian government to work with you to ameliorate the suffering of these refugees and find a lasting solution to their plight with a view to their relocation and resettlement to their communities of origin.”
Speaking further at the outreach, the Ambassador acknowledged the efforts of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) under the leadership of the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, and the MNJTF, for their tireless efforts in addressing the security and socio-economic challenges of the region. The LCBC, which comprises 6 countries: Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic and Libya, is mandated to manage the waters of the Lake Chad and other transboundary water resources, in a sustainable and equitable way, as well as promote regional integration and safeguarding peace and security in the Lake Chad Basin.
“Every good team is only as good as its leadership. Suffice to say that today’s humanitarian outreach is possible because of the overwhelming support of the Force Commander Multi-National Joint Task Force – Major General Ibrahim Sallau Ali. I want to extend my unreserved appreciation and gratitude for your admirable leadership of the MNJTF and your generosity and support in making this event possible. Your support has been key in enabling us provide some succor to our fellow brothers and sisters most in need of our assistance.”
The soft-spoken Ambassador also appreciated the donors of the relief materials.
“I wish to recognize and appreciate our donors who contributed generously to providing these relief materials today. Marketing Concepts International (MCI) – Nigeria, Homes and Gardens – Nigeria, the Defense section and my beloved officers and staff of the Embassy of Nigeria in N’Djamena, Chad, my personal assistant, family members and friends” she concluded.
Reacting to the relief materials, several Nigerians in the Dar es Salam Refugee Camp, praised the Nigerian delegation and government for the honour of the visit, the humanitarian assistance and the message of hope, while pleading to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for more effort to return them to their homes in Nigeria.
MNJTF – Force Commander, Major General Ali, commended the Ambassador and her staff for the impactful initiative.
“We are very happy with her for this gesture because it is also going to assist us in our operations in trying to ensure that we bring an end to terrorism and insurgency in the Lake Chad region. The initiative may not solve all their problems, but it will certainly show our displaced brothers and sisters that the authorities in Nigeria are very concerned about them. It will also renew their hope, as Her Excellency has promised to take their message back home to Nigeria for sustained and lasting solutions to terrorism, insurgency and the Refugee crisis.”
Nigerians Hail Traditional Ruler Over Empowerment In Chad
His Royal Majesty Eze Prince Nnamdi Uhuaba has been commended for his humanitarian exercise among Nigerians in the Republic of Chad.
As a Nigerian, he has promoted peace and co-existence beyond his domains in the neighboring Republic of Chad.
Prince Nnamdi Uhuaba, who hails from Abia state, was chosen by the members of the Igbo Community meeting and crowned as the Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu in Chad and Eze Aha-Mba 1 of the Igbo Community in Chad, by the Sultan of N’Djamena Chad, His Majesty Muhamad Muhamad Kachallah Kasser, who is an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking in the press, Chief Collins Onuoha, the spokesperson of the Igbo Community in Chad, expressed his appreciation for the humane actions of the traditional ruler. He stated that the ruler’s efforts have brought unity among the Nigerians in his community, Chadians, and other immigrants residing in the country.
According to Onuoha, HRM has been a great help to Nigerians living in Chad. He has formed cordial relationships with the Chadian authorities to ensure that Nigerians are not harassed. As a result, Nigerians are able to work and conduct their businesses without any hindrance. His installation as the ruler has been widely praised by Nigerians residing in the country.
“He’s a person who cares about the happiness of everyone around him irrespective of their background. He responds to issues that matter and is loved by his community, especially the Chadians. The government has commended him for his empowering gestures and he was crowned by the Sultan to the joy of everyone in Chad. Mention his name to any Hausa or Yoruba person in the market, and they will tell you more about him.”
Usman Malik, a Nigerian business merchant in Chad, believes he deserves recognition from the Nigerian government for his representation of Nigerians as traditional ruler.
“He’s greatly admired for his non-tribalistic approach and efforts towards peace and stability. He’s also known for his philanthropic acts in providing aid and putting smiles on people’s faces.”
Part of his humanitarians gestures were during the embattled COVID-19 that took millions of lives and the recent flood that ravage lives and properties.