Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has several times been described as a sterling Nigerian amazon, an outstandingly brilliant broadcaster who later transmitted to an outstandingly, brilliant parliamentarian. A worthy, compassionate, fair, firm, respected and courageous leader. Fondly called ”Mother of Teresa of the tube” because of her compassion for the less privileged, and now ”Lady Diaspora” for pioneering efforts in putting Diaspora Affairs on the front burner.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa spent 15 years of meritorious service at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) where she stood out for her ability to use journalism to bring succour to millions of Nigerians especially children, women and the less privileged. We can’t forget the story of Mary, the miracle baby, story of a girl being claimed by 3 mothers, which Abike painstakingly investigated for 8 years to a logical conclusion.
Born in Jos, Plateau State, an indigene of Ikorodu, Lagos State, Abike represented the people of Ikorodu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives from June 2003 to June 2015, she served as Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs (June 2003 to June 2008). As Chairman Media, she worked at giving the House a credible image through absolute openness and transparency, And as Chairman House Committee on Diaspora Affairs (June 2008 till 2015), her major spotlight was in her advocacy and calls for justice and fairness for Nigerians abroad. From China, Pakistan, Libya, to USA, Northern Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Brazil and many more countries, her intervention was impactful.
She championed and sponsored the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI bill) and the Violence Against persons Bill, which have both been signed into law in Nigeria. The Nigerian Infant Welfare Scheme Bill, Nigerians with Disabilities Bill, A Bill to amend the railway act to allow private sector and state participation, Nigerian Diaspora Commission Bill, and A Bill to Promote the Advancement of Nigerian Women and Girls, among many others.
She voluntarily did not seek re-election for a 4th term in the parliament. In her words “Let’s give others a chance”. She served as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora from 2016- 2019, and now she has been appointed Pioneer Executive Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission a position she is serving with diligence, effectiveness and passion.
Abike has always worked with passion and compassion. Let’s mention a few. From what looked like a scene from a Soap Opera from her days at NTA, she successfully concluded the puzzling story of “Mary the Miracle baby” a new born baby who was being claimed by three mothers, which Abike painstakingly resolved. She thereafter ensured that Mary had an education through to the University level by placing her on her scholarship scheme. And when Miss Oladapo Bisola Suliat cried for help, a 19 year old student who was down with Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and needed to get to India urgently for medical attention, Abike resolved her challenge within 24 hours.
What about her intervention in the case of Zainab Habibu Aliyu, a 22 year old girl who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for an offence she didn’t commit, a victim of a drug cartel. Working with other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice, President Muhammadu Buhari’s prompt intervention saved Zainab.
It is therefore not surprising that she has won over 350 awards both internationally and locally. Some of these awards include Bridge builders Award in Washington, International African Woman By Women 4 Africa in London, Catholic Young Men Association (CYMA) Award for Leadership, UNICEF Child Friendly Award, Certificate of Recognition from California Legislative Assembly, This Day 50 Women At 50 Achievers Award, Nigerian In Diaspora Organization Globe Awards F.R.N people’s choice Awards, African Parliamentary Award, Committee Chairman of the Decade, Winner of the NIDO Global Award, Canada, Federal Republic of Nigeria people choice awards. Three times winner of Representative of the year, five times winner of Female representative of the year, Congressman Donald M. Payne (US House of Reps) Award and Certificate of special congressional recognition for her unwavering commitment to humanity and serving as Chairman for Nigeria House Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs. African Parliamentary Award, 2010, South-west House of Representatives member of the Decade, African Parliamentary Award, Committee Chairman of the Decade, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (AWOIST) leadership Award, as the Grand Officer of the Masses (GOM), in due recognition of her selfless services to humanity, Commander of Great Ife (CGI), and Zenith Bank JEWEL OF THE FUTURE Award. She has been named as one of the top 50 Nigerian women and top 200 women in the world by Richtopia.
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has been a voice for the voiceless and remains a symbol of hope and inspiration to many. Her comportment, integrity, virtues and ideals are indeed qualities worthy of emulation, and her guiding philosophy at all time is that, success is not about age, it is not about character, it is not by how much you have but how many lives you are able to touch.
Nigeria’s Dangote in talks with traders for oil refinery loan
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is in talks with some of the world’s biggest oil traders to help finance his mega refinery project outside of Nigeria’s commercial centre Lagos, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The 650 000 bl/d refinery, once complete, will be the continent’s largest plant and redraw major trade flows of crude and fuel in the Atlantic basin.
Despite being Africa’s biggest oil producer and exporter, the country depends almost entirely on fuel imports after allowing its significant refining capacity, 445 000 bbl/d, to become dilapidated over several decades.
Many past and current Nigerian officials, including President Muhammadu Buhari, have announced plans to refurbish them but political will has been lacking.
The Natural Resources Governance Institute, a non-profit policy think tank, has previously pointed to the moribund refineries as a key focus of oil corruption and waste in the country.
Hit by economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and soaring construction costs, Dangote needs a cash injection.
Nigeria’s state oil firm NNPC has to agreed to buy a 20% stake in the refinery for about $2.8-billion but Dangote is looking for outside cash. NNPC’s head Mele Kyari said a process was on-going to raise $1-billion with Afreximbank to fund part of its stake purchase.
The billionaire has held talks as recently as a month ago with executives from the world’s top two oil traders – Trafigura and Vitol.
Trafigura and Vitol declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Dangote Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Two sources with direct knowledge said the option of raising another $500-million from a trade house or consortium was being actively explored.
The details of a potential loan from a trading firm have not been finalised but the trader could receive a long-term contract to supply crude and receive cargoes of refined products as repayment.
The refinery has been delayed by several years and the cost has ballooned to $19-billion from Dangote’s earlier estimates of $12-billion to $14-billion. Construction was also delayed due to Covid-19 outbreaks among workers at the site and delays getting materials, two sources with knowledge of the project said.
Many industry sources do not expect any products before the second half of next year.
Swiss traders like Vitol along with Nigerian firms, have cashed-in for years in gasoline-short Nigeria by supplying mega tenders and being part of lucrative crude-for-fuel swap deals for over a decade.
Getting a hold of Dangote’s fuel will give the trader a stranglehold on a key set of new oil flows. Nigeria’s new oil bill, approved last month after nearly 20 years of political wrangling, has added fuel-import licence requirements that experts fear will give Dangote an effective monopoly.
Under the new laws, the regulator will prioritize local refiners for import licences and volumes would be based on production capacity or market share.
While Nigeria will remain open in theory to international trading houses, a partnership with Dangote would be the only way to guarantee a foothold in Africa’s biggest economy.
CHIEF OKWUJIAKU BIC: the Leader of Nigerian Progress march in Cameroon
The Nigerian Union branch in Douala is the largest of all the Union’s branches in Cameroon, especially as the City of Douala is Cameroon’s economic capital, and a majority of Nigerians living in Cameroon are primarily business people; it is estimated that that out of the over 4 million Nigerians residing in Cameroon, Douala alone hosts about half of that Nigerian population. For over a year now, Chief OKWUJIAKU BIC has been the one saddled with the responsibility of guiding his fellow countrymen to success outside of Nigeria.
Though it is a very difficult task, Chief OKWUJIAKU, has lived up to his promises, overseeing several ground-breaking projects, including the goodwill donation made to the internally displaced Anglophone Cameroonians living in Douala and its environs, that have made the Douala branch of the Nigerian Union, one of the most active associations in Cameroon.
Despite a relatively large success, Chief OKWUJIAKU BIC, is not relenting in his efforts in a bid to offer to Nigerians living in Cameroon, a platform to spark long-lasting success; he is at the fore-front of the Nigeria-Cameroon Trade, Tourism, and Cultural Festival (NTTC) to be organized with the Nigeria Consulate General of the Littoral and West Regions in partnership with all Nigerian diplomatic missions in Cameroon. The NTTC is a platform that will bring together Nigerians and Cameroonians in the domains of trade, tourism and culture, scheduled to take place in Douala by the end of September 2019; in the Festival, Nigerians are expected to tap from the available business opportunities existing in Cameroon, and vice-versa.
After a decade has passed since the organizing of the last edition of the NTTC, Chief OKWUJIAKU’s dynamism and vision for success, seemed to have been the catalyst to the holding of just the 2nd Edition of the Festival; and apart from just being the President of the Nigerian Union branch of Douala, he is known to be a goodwill ambassador, not just to Nigerians, but also to Cameroonians, whom he has either employed or granted scholarships.
Known to be a very down-to-earth man, Chief OKWUJIAKU BIC, in an interview while handing over financial and material gifts to some Cameroonians in distress, told the Governor of the Littoral Region of Cameroon that, he would rather want to be remembered by his works, and not by the level of personal success he has achieved.
Jimi Eniola: How Nigerians living abroad can help develop their country
Jamil Omobolaji Eniola- LLM, MA, M.SC, GMC, FIIA Eniola was born and raised in Mushin, a major urban suburb of Lagos, Nigeria. Educated at some of the world’s Ivy League institutions, he has, over the past seventeen years, been involved in United Nations Consulting, Conferences, Seminars and Workshops all over the globe. His among the international guests invited to the 5th anniversary Maya Angelou life and legacy in Little Rock, Arkansas USA in October 2019. An Executive Producer/Director upcoming television program about United Nations activities to be air at United Kingdom TV Station.
He is President of Hen Foundation, which he Founded and named in his late mother’s memory with the objectives of empowering the needy with basic healthcare and access to basic education and working towards an empowerment among the underprivileged members of society. We are a Non-Governmental Organization, we have carried out 500 pilot Math’s Skill, technique board game programs in 15 public primary schools and 6 secondary, first phase in Lagos State, second phase in Ogun State and third phases in Oyo State in 2018, We also worked with the Mushin Local Government, Education department to provide free JAMB forms and Pre-Exam tutorial for over 250 students. Our foundation has carried out a humanitarian project in Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. In 2017 we carried out Cancer Screening/awareness exercise for over 2000 women in partnership with the Cancer Research Centre, University of Ibadan and Femi Gbajabiamila Foundation in Surulere, Lagos State and donations of medical equipment to the UI Cancer Screening Centre.
A thoroughly educated individual, Eniola has an Advanced General Management qualification from the University of Cambridge; International Politics from Oxford University; a Master’s degree in International Relations from Royal Holloway University of London; a Master’s degree in International Criminology from the University of Greenwich; an LLM degree in International Law from the University of East London; a double MA degree in International Relations from Queen Mary University of London and Middlesex University, an Executive Certificate in Negotiation and Decision Making from London School of Economics; an Advanced Certificate in Housing and Welfare from Trans-Atlantic College, London, Diploma in Computer Study from Manchester City College and a degree in Microbiology from the University of Ibadan,(UI), Nigeria.
Grenfell Tower – June 2017 Provided on-site help and support to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, working with local mosques to offer temporary shelter and provisions to those affected
Adiye Organization Volunteers to support people with learning the English language and other educational assistance to help them integrate into British society and culture
Girl Child Network Worldwide Personally donated £500 and fundraised to provide village girls in rural Zimbabwe with sanitary products, allowing them to continue with their education without having to suffer from time off and interruptions. This has given girls the opportunity to leave their areas. In addition, provided Maths Skills board games to improve the levels of Maths education. Supported Women4Africa, Nigerian Women in Diaspora Leadership, Women’s Right Watch International, Okwui Mask Scheme for Survival of Domestic Violence, Tawa Chillout Domestic Violence UK, and numerous others.
Memberships President –University of Ibadan Alumni Global Network (Diaspora body UI Alumni) Member of the United Nations Association UK – 2004 – Present Participates annually in the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in London – was chosen in 2011/2018 to represent the Nigerian High Commissioner and lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in London in remembrance of fallen UN peacekeepers Ambassador for Peace of Universal Peace Federation-2018 Fellow- Institute of Information Management-Africa Associate- Negotiation and Conflict Management Group International Distinguished Member – Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia USA Senior Adviser on Inter-Religious Affairs to the Universal Peace Federation-Nigeria Member of Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs – 2015 – Present Associated with British Africa Business Alliance Present Patron- Kamuna Widows Empowerment Initiative, Nigeria Member of the International Youth & Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN), Geneva
Director of Travel, All Nigerian UN Student Association, University of Ibadan-19962000
Awards/Honour Awarded HeForShe Everyday Hero Award-HeForShe Awards-UK Awarded Community Development – Gathering of Africa’s Best Awards-UK Awarded Community and Inclusion – Uncelebrated Nigeria Awards- UK Awarded Achievers Award by Ghana Nigeria Youth Summit, Lagos State, Nigeria. Nominated Role Model of the Week – Africa4U Nominated for Male Personality of the Year- Life Changers Foundation, London
ND MAG: WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL VIEW ON LIFE ABROAD AND WHAT CONTRIBUTIONS CAN BE MADE BY NIGERIANS LIVING ABROAD TO FOSTER THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIO-CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR COUNTRY?
NIDO: Yeah there are so many ways to that, for example now, with the importation of more Nigerian-made products abroad, be it yam tubers, semovita, garri, and so on and so forth, helps the Nigerian economy to grow while also selling Nigeria’s cuisine to the world; and in the domain of culture, we can also import our cultural values abroad like the Yoruba language which is now being taught in several places abroad so that children from the Yoruba descent who have never been to Nigeria and whose parents have not been able to teach the Yoruba language, can learn the language at a very young age in order to keep them in touch with their motherland. Even the BBC is in support of this program which helps Nigerians to be in touch with their culture; the more we are promoting our culture, the more attached we become to our cultural values, while also gaining more admiration from non-Nigerians who have already adopted some of our traditional dishes like pounded yam and egusi soup, Jollof rice, and also in our African attires (There’s this program I am going for in America and non-Nigerians are demanding for more Ashokis for the auction) and to me I’m seeing it as a means of developing our culture, and indirectly developing our country’s economy by buying local and selling international. It is also evaluated that the Nigerian money transfer back home this year, has clocked 25 billion Dollars, and has been greatly increased by the constant increase in the opening of new African restaurants abroad which favors the importation of local African ingredients for the preparation of different African dishes.
ND MAG: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF PROF. OSINBAJO’S COMMENTS WHERE HE CALLED NIGERIANS LIVING ABROAD AS THE MOST RESILIENT, HARDWORKING AND RESOURCEFUL AFRICAN DIASPORA?
NIDO: Yes I completely agree with His Excellency, the Vice-President’s comments, I give you an example, with my Foundation, I am a member of the British African Business Alliance, a platform whereby some Nigerians in the diaspora, be it IT professionals, entrepreneurs, medical doctors, and a host of other professionals, decided to come together in order to help their country, Nigeria, with much needed expertise for companies back home; these Nigerians boast of so much connections abroad which makes them a better channel for the Nigerian government to exploit in the building of the country’s economy. There is also the Nigerian Direct Diaspora Summit (NDDS) which is also another platform comprising of Nigerian professionals living abroad, and working on several ways to help develop Nigeria; but with all these platforms and initiatives set up by the Nigerian diaspora, the irony is that the Nigerian government has failed to tap into these initiatives. In fact, the government has completely ignored us, even when we extend our hand to them all the time; I remember when this Boko Haram thing started in Nigeria, I elaborated a good plan on how we could dialogue with them in order to limit the damages, met with several high profile government officials from the local to the Federal government, but at the end, received a ‘no consideration’ from the government, only for it to go and hire the services of an Australian who knows nothing about Nigeria’s complexities. This attitude from our own government was very discouraging as we as Nigerians are making ourselves available for our country and are being rejected by the same country, whereas, we see a lot of other nationals, from countries like China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, and even African countries like Zimbabwe, Rwanda, South Africa, and Burundi, being solicited by their respective governments to bring back their know-how home in order to contribute to the economic and socio-cultural development of their respective countries. To me it is however unfortunate that with the skills and knowledge that we, Nigerians, have, we are being overlooked by our very own government when it comes to contributing to the growth of the nation; do you know that Nigerians are amongst the most intelligent in the U.S and U.K? Go and research it and you will see that the EMAFEDON Family (of Nigerian descent) is one of the most intelligent families in the U.K, Prof. EMADEDON has children who, at the age of eleven are already in the university. So, with all these potentials, it is so hard to swallow the fact that the Nigerian diaspora is being left out completely in the process of nation building.
ND MAG: WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEWLY CREATED DIASPORA COMMISSION?
NIDO: I don’t expect anything great from any of the administrations without restructuring because a house built without solid foundation is bound to collapse. ABIKE DABIRI is doing a great job by solving critical issues surrounding Nigerians living abroad, most especially in Africa. Also, the Commission has no budget and as such, cannot function effectively because it needs funds to relocate diasporas; maybe when the government will provide the Commission with the necessary tools, then we can then expect more results from it, but not at this moment.
ND MAG: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE AFRICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT?
NIDO: As a Nigerian in the diaspora who intends to someday invest back home, this is a much needed economic policy that will not only boost Africa’s image in the world, but will help in the promotion of tolerance amongst Africans through the softening of some very strong immigration policies implemented by some countries in the Continent, thereby reducing the rate of xenophobic attacks such as those we are witnessing today in South Africa. The Agreement will also help in curtailing the very glaring corruption rate in Africa today, while also helping Africa to regain its importance in the world; it also means that Africans can now freely invest in any African country other than theirs, but a question remains, will they stick to the Agreement? Take a look at how Nigerians are being attacked and killed in South Africa, how they are being imposed exorbitant taxes in Ghana, will these things stop now that this Agreement is in force? It is not always easy to converge economies, for instance, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, are the leading producing nations in the Continent, while countries like Burundi are down there in terms of the production rate; what this means is that, such less producing countries might easily become dumping grounds for the more producing countries with the putting in place of the African Free Trade Agreement. The advice will certainly be as an investor, you shouldn’t just get into a country and invest without first of all having a partner or partners because you will be ripped off possession of all you have; it is also very important for an investment deal structured like 30% for the investor, 30% for the foreign partner, 30% for local partner, and 10% for the home government, because I think with this, more Africans in the diaspora, especially Nigerians, will be encouraged to take the opportunity of the Agreement.
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