Hon Kenneth Gbandi holds critical credentials in Peace Research and Conflict Mediation with focus on dialogue, conflict mitigation, integration and Diaspora demographic civil rights. He has served in Hamburg Senate’s Foreigners Advisory Council as Chairman of Anti-Discrimination Committee for three years. He is the Director of the German Federal Government African-German Information Center for social business and recognition of migrants’ certificates. He runs Heritage Media Network, one of the major African – European Media Networks in Germany & German speaking regions of Europe. Since 2015, Hon. Gbandi is a member of the German-African Communication Concept Committee for German Foreign Affairs, Africa division dealing with migration of Africans to Europe, a project supported by German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hon. Kenneth Gbandi was first elected as Chairman of NIDO Europe in 2016 in Athens, Greece and was re-elected as the Chairman during the AGM of the organization in Austria in Nov. 2018 for the historic two terms, the first to achieve this feat since the establishment of NIDO Europe 19 years ago. Hon. Gbandi is also co-founder/1st Sport Director of Nigerian Football Club Germany (NCG FC), founder and Executive Director, Miss Africa Germany and Miss Nigeria Germany organization. Hon. Kenneth Gbandi has been inundated with Awards after Awards for his leadership and Diaspora engagement, including; Ghana-Nigeria Diaspora Man of the Year 2019 for Most impactful Leadership and engagement; Leadership & Achievement Awards 2019 from the Nigerian Community Germany; Diaspora Man of the Year for 2016 (The Voice Achievers Award), The Netherlands; Best International Creative Director of the Year, Sunrise Foundation, Dublin, Ireland (2016), Best Diaspora Organizer/Organization, African Union African Diaspora (AUADS) Embassy of South Africa, Berlin, Germany (2014); African Community Ambassador Award, UK/Bremen (2014); Best Media/Promoting Black Heritage Culture and Awareness, Atlanta USA (2013), Fink TV Special Award 2013, TIDE und Studio, Germany; Nigerian European Union (NEW) Best Publishers Award 2015, Malaga, Spain and Best African Media in Germany, African Youths Foundation, Bonn, Germany (2009) among others
CAN YOU PRESENT THE EUROPEAN CHAPTER OF THE NIDO TO US? HOW MANY ARE YOU? FROM HOW MANY COUNTRIES?
ANS: The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe is the European arm of a global Nigerian Diaspora network. Facilitated by the Federal Government of Nigeria to represent the interests of all Nigerians in the Diaspora including also NIDO Americas, NIDO Asia, and NIDO Africa as continental organizations. NIDO Europe was established in the year 2000 and registered in England and Wales in 2002 under the Companies Act. The organization’s Headquarters is located at the Nigerian High Commission, Nigeria House 9, Northumberland Avenue London from where it serves its 20 Regional Chapters in 19 European Countries.
HOW DO YOU OPERATE AS AN ORGANIZATION IN A LARGE CONTINENT LIKE EUROPE?
ANS: The central vision of NIDO Europe is to bring Nigerians living in Europe together and to identify those willing to offer their skills (Education, Information Technology, Health, Economic, science, Administration, Law, Political and Corporate Governance, Management etc.) to assist Nigeria’s national development. Once you identified group of individuals with a common goal, the task becomes easier. These skills are urgently needed in developmental projects by both government and non-governmental organisations in Nigeria. NIDO Europe as a result requires those Nigerians living in Europe who can afford to spend a period of time in Nigeria to contribute their skills to help Nigeria’s developmental process. NIDO Europe provides the unique opportunity for Nigerians living in Europe to learn to work and collaborate with one another in the task of nation building of our homeland. The organisation strongly believes that Nigerians in Europe can make significant contributions towards homeland development through programs, policies, and advocacy to harness their talents, expertise, and resources for Nigeria’s development and nation building.
To be effective in the management of the organization, you have to adopt the best policies that strengthen the structure of the organization. The Organization is governed by an elected Central Executive Council (CEC), who are fit, proper and accomplished individuals drawn from its membership and representing diverse professions. The highest organ of NIDOE is the General Assembly made up of members across Europe. The Board of Trustees (BOT) members who are drawn from all elected members of the Central Executive Council (Officers) and all the elected Chapter Chairpersons of the existing and validated Chapters have the oversight function. Central Advisory Board or the Patrons made of accomplished individuals whose pedigrees are adjudged imperative in the further organisational development of NIDO Europe and drawn from within the membership of NIDOE and outside NIDOE membership representing diverse professions help to resolve issues within the organization and carry out lobby functions. With such a strong structure and visionary leadership organizing NIDO Europe has been an interesting challenge.
AS AN AFRICAN, HOW DO YOU RECEIVE THE NEWS OF AN AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT?
ANS: The signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on behalf of Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari at the 12th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger Republic was seen as a historic one not only for Nigeria but Africa as a whole, paving the way to what many described as the birth of world’s largest free trade zone since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. The expectations are that the vast potentials of the continent of Africa will finally be let lose for the rapid development of the continent and its fast-growing population. We will hope that the comparative advantages of various African countries will lead to rapid progress and development through a healthy cooperation rather than competitions. The hope is also that the main focus now is the setting of mechanisms for improving a collective African trade condition not only within the continent but also with the Europe and the rest of the world. There are however fears in some quarters that Nigeria may not fully benefit from the Free Trade. The argument is that the two major components that drive Nigeria’s productivity index are the manufacturing industries and the farming sector and unfortunately not at their best potentials. While African Free Trade will be “a dream come through” to a huge market, the question from most critics are if these critical sectors, either manufacturers or agriculturists have satisfactorily met the consumer´s demands of about 200 million in Nigerian in the first place. My take is that, while we revel the potentials of African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Nigeria must quickly address the areas of these shortcomings if we are to fully enjoy the benefit of African Continental Free Trade Agreement
HOW CAN YOU AND THE ORGANIZATION YOU LEAD, BENEFIT FROM THIS AGREEMENT?
ANS: The optimal question should probably be how can we help Nigeria benefit from this agreement? Like I already stated that members of NIDO Europe are practicing professionals and Businesspeople with years of experience in various fields of profession accustomed to best international practice. They possess the skills that are urgently needed in the areas of policy formulation, manufacturing industries and farming sector that will be needed in further developmental projects both by government and non-governmental organisations in Nigeria towards realizing the full potentials of the Trade agreement.
How can the diaspora help in the political evolution of Nigeria? Why do you think voting in the diaspora can make Nigeria develop politically?
ANS: Let me start by emphasizing that Diaspora Voting is not about what I think or what I don’t think, but the fact that it is a fundamental right of all Nigerians, including Nigerians in the Diaspora. So it is actually irrelevant if Diaspora Voting will help develop Nigeria or not but a fundamental right which we wish to and want to exercise. But having said that, let me say in affirmative that Diaspora Voting will go a long way to stabilize the political process in Nigeria. The independence of the Diaspora will mean that they are more likely to be more objective in their voting pattern without stomach infrastructure considerations, thereby helping support and influence the voting of individuals with good developments policies. Another major argument for the full political participation is the obvious facts of their contributions to the economic development of Nigeria. The BUSINESSDAY special report of 10 June 2019, summarizes the crucial role of the Diaspora in sustaining the Nigerian economy. According to data provided by the Central Bank, Diaspora remittances (cash sent back home by Nigerian emigrants) first outpaced oil revenue in 2015, as the $21.2 billion sent home officially by Nigerians abroad surpassed the $19.6 billion oil export proceeds for those twelve months. In the years through a recession-tainted 2016 and 2017 as well as last year, the trend continued. In 2016 and 2017, Nigerians abroad sent home $19.7 billion and $22 billion respectively, which were higher than the $10.4 billion and $13.4 billion garnered from oil exports in the same period. “The only thing holding up the economy is the Diaspora; Andrew Nevin, the chief economist at consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers concluded that if Nigeria did not have this massive flow of remittances, he is pretty sure the economy would collapse. A constituency that is holding up the economy of a country from collapse have the unquestionable right to also participate in choosing those that set the political and economic policies. I will use this opportunity to once again call on INEC, the National Assembly and the Executive to write their tenure and names in Gold by working together to set in motion the necessary guidelines for Diaspora voting for 2023.
How can the diaspora help in the political evolution of Nigeria? Why do you think voting in the diaspora can make Nigeria develop politically?
ANS: I can only repeat myself again. It makes no difference if out votes will be the political messiah that Nigeria is waiting for. Diaspora Voting is a fundamental right. We can brainstorm and do the analysis at the appropriate time. Going a university or acquiring a collage education or developing oneself does not guarantee you a good Job, but it will be foolish for anyone to use the excuse of non-guarantee of a good not to try to develop oneself.
What expectations do you have from the newly created diaspora commission?
ANS: We have over 22 Million Nigerians in the Diaspora, NIDCOM is expected to help drive and implements policies that will galvanize the potentials of the Nigerian Diaspora and act as interface between the Government and the Diaspora for the attainment of homeland developmental goals in a mutually beneficial fashion. Following the Nomination and confirmation of the Chairman of NIDCOM, I will hope that the members of the Governing Body should also follow without delay to quickly help draw up a broad based strategic plan, a 3-4 year plan that nonetheless will highlight what is hoped to be specifically achieved within each year. The first year should address the issue of agenda setting, evolving rules of engagement with stakeholders, establishing structures, operating modalities and staffing while addressing sustainable funding issues. Nigerians in Diaspora organization (NIDO), a global Diaspora network represented in 5 continents and recognized by NIDCOM Act as umbrella organization of all Nigerians in Diaspora should be a major Diaspora partners and work closely with NIDCOM. I will hope that The Diaspora Commission should be hair-sensitive to diaspora problems devoid of any sentiments and work with NIDO not only to optimize its structure but to leverage on its global structure and network to galvanize all Nigerian in spite of the organizations challenges similar to any other organization or agencies. Undermining the over 20 years Diaspora structure and experience will result to a total Diaspora catastrophe and rat race which the creation of NIDO has successful addressed.
APART FROM SENDING MONEY TO FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS BACK HOME, HOW CAN NIGERIANS IN THE DIASPORA PARTICIPATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR COUNTRY?
ANS: I am sure my answer on the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Diaspora Voting address your question.
What suggestions would you make to the government to ease its economic diversity program?
ANS: I believe that good governance, security of lives and properties of all Nigerian is paramount to any economic development. The situation in Nigeria today must be addressed urgently. An emergency must be declared on the power sector. Implementations of the easy of doing business in Nigeria must be vigorously pursed. The government should intensify on programmes designed to achieve self-sufficiency in food items in the next five years. It is achievable. Countries like India and Pakistan have proven that it is possible. Self-sufficiency will not only lead to basic food security, reduce our import bill, create jobs and further social peace but will also spark the development of the agro-allied industries. Most importantly, the federal, state and local governments should create frameworks to actively engage the Diaspora. Nigerians abroad are willing to support the development of their homeland, their states of origin and their local government areas if given the opportunity. I have also advocated for the Nigerian Diaspora to be considered symbolically the 37th State of Nigeria just as the African Union considers the Diaspora as the sixth Region of the continent with the rights of representation. Hopefully, the Nigerian Diaspora Commission will provide an institutional framework for the engagement of the Diaspora in national development, borrowing from countries such as India or even Benin or Senegal that have such institutions. When sustainable progress has been made on these areas listed, diversification will come naturally.
WHAT MESSAGE CAN YOU GIVE TO NIGERIANS LIVING IN EUROPE, AND ALSO TO THOSE WILLING TO COME TO EUROPE?
ANS: Think home! We must be the vessel of the change we want to see in Nigeria. Nothing will change if we practice remote controlled change from the Diaspora. We have what it takes to move our country forward all we need to do is take a step of faith. In Europe, citizens participate actively in the process of governance through professional, civic and other groupings, which is why the state works well for them. We have to do that too. Anybody who chooses to keep out has no business complaining. Yes, we are not there yet, but we will get there.
For those at home, while I would like to encourage young Nigerians to seek opportunities for self-actualisation abroad academically and economically, they should stay away from one way to hell through the perilous journey of going through the Sahara Desert and seeking to cross the Mediterranean in dinghy boats. Thousands of young Africans, including many Nigerians, have perished on such journeys. Those who make it to Europe find out how precarious their situation is as they have no good chances of having their asylum applications accepted. So, my message is that if you want to check out, please be well informed. Many high institutions of learning offer places to students from Africa. For example, you don’t pay tuition fees in Germany and universities here are willing to consider applications from brilliant students from all over the world. If you come from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal or Cameroon, for example, know that your chances of asylum rejection is 99, 99%. The saddest thing is that many had relatively good jobs at home with prospects for career development. They leave all their jobs and families and embark on an uncertain journey that often do end tragically. In a nutshell, my advice to our young people is to look well before they leap. Sometimes there are opportunities in Nigeria that can enable them to achieve their dreams
Gallery: Diaspora Excellence Award 2023
At the occasion organized in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Naija Diaspora Magazine, several individuals, companies, governors, traditional rulers, business owners, government agencies and parastatals as well as politicians were honored for their outstanding performances in 2023. The publication celebrated its
10th anniversary with a two-day event that included the Symposium and Annual Diaspora Excellence Award. This platform provided a unique opportunity for collective learning, networking, and gaining insights into government policies that relate to communities. Attendees were empowered to navigate pathways of positive change. The Symposium lecture was titled: ‘Building a Nation’, with several dignitaries as speakers.
CLICK EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament Triumphs Amidst Adversity
On the 6th of August 2023, a monumental event took place at St Michel, Terminus, Douala, marking the commencement of the First Edition of the Anambra State Union Football Tournament. Under the stewardship of Sir Emeka Uzoka, Chairman of the Anambra State Union, this tournament emerged as a testament to unity, sportsmanship, and the indomitable spirit of the Anambra community.
The opening ceremony set the stage for what would become an unforgettable showcase of camaraderie and competitive fervor. A true celebration of tradition and athleticism, the tournament kicked off with a Veteran Match at 2:00 pm. The clash between Aguata Local Government Union and Nnewi Local Government Union resulted in a gripping encounter, with Aguata securing victory with a 2-0 score line.
Distinguished figures graced the event with their presence, adding prestige to the occasion. Among them was Mr. Oliva Ochi, Consul 1 at the Consulate General Douala, representing the esteemed Consul General, H.E. Amb. (Mrs.) Efe A. Clark-Omeru.
The honorable gathering was further enriched by the participation of key personalities, including: Hon. BIC Okwujiaku, President of the Nigerian Community Douala, HRH Eze Jonathan T. Onyenagubor, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Cameroon, Sir, Lovinus Ezeh, Vice President, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Alex Nwoye, Vice President 2, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Uche Obiekwe, Patron of the Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Innocent Obiorah Odoh, Patron Anambra State Union, Chairmen of Imo and Enugu States Union, Esteemed members of the Anambra State Union.
The event also extended its reach to include esteemed guests from Douala and beyond.
In recognition of the paramount importance of safety and well-being, the organizers ensured the presence of dedicated medical health and security personnel, assuring attendees a secure environment throughout the event.
Despite the inclement weather characterized by heavy rain, the unyielding spirit of the Anambra community remained unshaken. A testament to their passion for football and unity, a remarkable number of attendees braved the elements, converging to witness the unfolding of history on the lush fields of St Michel, Terminus.
The final was held on Sunday 12th of November 2023 @ Bonamousadi Stadium Douala. Oyi Local Government lifted the trophy while Aguta Local Government took the bronze and Idemili Local Government took silver.
The inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament stands as an embodiment of shared values, intercommunity collaboration, and the timeless appeal of sport. This event not only etched a significant mark on the sporting calendar but also served as a reminder of the resilience and unity that define the Anambra community.
As the tournament concluded its first chapter, it left in its wake a legacy of camaraderie, sporting excellence, and the promise of more remarkable editions to come.
CAMEROON: Miniature Africa
Cameroon, nestled in the heart of Central Africa, is a country with a captivating blend of rich cultural diversity, stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. Often referred to as « Miniature Africa, » Cameroon offers travelers a unique and multifaceted experience, showcasing the continent’s essence in a single destination.
With more than 250 ethnic groups and languages, Cameroon is a melting pot of diverse cultures, traditions and customs. The capital city, Yaoundé, and the economic hub, Douala, provide excellent starting points to dive into Cameroon’s cultural wealth.
Cameroon’s diverse geography offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes, each with its unique charm.
In the West, the mist-covered peaks of Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in West Africa, beckon adventurous hikers to climb and witness awe-inspiring views of the surrounding scenery.
Towards the North, the Sahelian region boasts vast savannas and semi-arid landscapes, offering visitors an opportunity to spot magnificent wildlife, and in the East, the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin teem with a rich variety of flora and fauna, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and exotic bird species.
Tourism Spots on a Budget
Here are a selection of the most distinguished and captivating tourist destinations in Cameroon. These remarkable locales boast accessibility without undue strain on one’s financial resources, making them irresistible choices for tourists.
Mefou National Park:
Mefou National Park houses the Mefou Primate Sanctuary, a rescue center managed by Ape Action Africa. With over 300 rare and endangered primates, it’s a significant conservation project in Africa, providing lifelong care and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trades.
Formerly known as Victoria, Limbe is a port city with a diverse flora and fauna influenced by its colonial past. The Limbe Wildlife Centre/Botanical Centre offers a close-to-nature experience, rescuing and caring for ill-treated and endangered animals.
Mount Cameroon, also called the « Chariot of the Gods, » is West Africa’s highest mountain and an active volcano. A popular destination for adventurers and hikers, the trek offers stunning views, diverse landscapes and encounters with wildlife like monkeys and birds.
Kribi Beach, in the southwestern region, boasts long white sand beaches and clear waters. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Visitors can also enjoy the Chutes de la Lobé waterfall, where they can swim under the falls. Local cuisine and seafood delicacies await at various restaurants.
Korup National Park:
Korup National Park, renowned for its bird species, offers pristine tropical wilderness. Visitors can enjoy lodging infrastructure and spot unique primates like the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and Perseus’s red colobus. Located near the ocean, Mundemba serves as a starting point for tours to the park, where guides often speak the local Cameroonian language.
Cameroon stands tall as a remarkable destination for audacious travelers seeking a blend of cultural diversity, awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling adventures. From the depths of the rainforests to the heights of its mountains, and from the bustling cities to the serene beaches, the land beckons with open arms, ready to share its enchanting beauty and warm hospitality with all who venture to explore its wonders. As tourism in Cameroon continues to grow sustainably, the country’s potential as a captivating and memorable destination will undoubtedly flourish.