Nigerians in the Diaspora gathered recently in Geneva to celebrate their country’s independence day. The occasion was the 59th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria organised by Nigerian in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) aimed to foster stronger ties between them, the diplomatic and business communities in Geneva, Switzerland.
The celebration culminated with a gala attended by the Nigerians, their friends, and some dignitaries from Nigeria.
In his welcome address Dozie Celeste Ugochukwu, NIDO’s President while thanking the attendees for their presence, acknowledged the presence of the dignitaries from Nigeria among whom were: the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, the Chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, the House of Representatives and member of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs Hon. Wunmi Ogunlola. Also in attendance was the Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Audu Kadiri.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe, in her Keynote address, spoke about the establishment of the Committee on Diaspora and the important work that was being done to address the challenges faced by the Diaspora; and the efforts made to resolve the recent spate of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians which took place in South Africa. She encouraged Nigerians to work together in order to be a force to be reckoned with.
Ambassador Audu Kadiri addressing the gathering
The Nigerian Finance Attaché to the World Trade Organisation, (WTO) Mr. Joel Lomak gave some remarks on the importance of international trading partnerships for Nigeria, the role of modern technology, and how being a part of the block chain would be vital to being better integrated into the global trading systems.
Earlier, on the previous day, the two august visitors Hon. Akande-Sadipe, and Hon. Ogunlola, paid a visit to the office of Global Compact For Migration and Development (GFMD) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) both organised by NIDO. They were accompanied by Dozie Ugochukwu, Pat Santchi, and Celestina Chinenye.
The Head of GFMD Support Unit, Estrella Lajom and a staff member received them. Mrs. Lajom informed them about the GFMD and its activities. It is a platform for discussion among representatives of Civil Society and NGOs, migrant associations, diaspora organisations, and representatives of trade unions and the private sector, which work in relation to migration and development issues.
It is a voluntary body that fosters partnerships and networks with countries willing to work together. It recommendations are not bidden. Member States are free to participate but the problem thereafter is upholding those promises that they make. Nigeria has been very active in the body.
The was a question about the classification of who is a Diaspora and who is a migrant, vis à vis the refugees and asylum seekers.
In the explanation proffered, there are two categories of migrants, those who legally migrate to a country, for example, for economic reasons, or to reside are regarded as regular migrants, and are also Diaspora. The refugees and asylum seekers who migrate because of persecution or war etc. are regarded as irregular migrants, they too are Diapora but without legal statute.
At WTO, the Deputy Director-General Yonov Fred Agah received the MPs. He explained what the WTO does, saying it is responsible for the regulation of international trade and tariff issues and other related matters including copyrights related matter.
He explained that by its rules and agreements every country does not only need WTO to foster its international trade activities but also to derive benefits irrespective of its size, population and economic might.
The Igbo celebratory masquerades performing at the celebration
At the close of the formal ceremony, three women were honoured by NIDO Switzerland for great achievements. The first to be presented with the honour was Nigeria’s First Lady, Her Excellency, Hajia Aisha Buhari. It was received on her behalf by Ms. Kemi Amadu, who also represented the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Baba Madugu. Other receivers are Hon Akande-Sadipe and Hon Ogunlola.
Traditional Nigerian dishes delicious enough to whet any appetite were prepared by Havana. There was live music to entertain the attendees who were also thrilled by the energetic performance by Igbo celebratory masquerades. The guests danced the night away to the popular hits of various African musicians.