The Senate has advocated the upgrade of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCom) to a federal ministry in order to meet its obligations to Nigerian citizens in foreign countries.
Sen. Michael Nnachi, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations, made the call during an interactive session with Chairman of the commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “There is the need to upgrade NiDCom to a full-fledged ministry. The legal department should start work towards the review of the Act.
” The National Assembly is ready to support and work with you to make your agency a full-fledged ministry
“That would enable you to have adequate funding to sustain you and empower the agency to carry out its mandate.
“We believe that your agency has a lot of responsibilities to Nigerians in the Diaspora. We need to encourage them to come and invest here.
“NiDCom has a lot of roles to play. The leadership of the National Assembly will be interested in you delivering on your mandate.”
Earlier, Dabiri-Erewa told the committee that the agency was having serious challenges in meeting its mandate due to poor funding.
She specifically said her office was finding it difficult to help some Nigerians in critical situations abroad because there is no provision for foreign trips for her officials.
The chairman also said government was yet to refund her for the three trips she recently embarked upon on behalf of Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa said, “It is in the act that we should have five diaspora offices, but we don’t have money. It’s in the act but we don’t have money.
“Some citizens abroad help us out when we travel. They are the most important thing for Nigeria right now and I can tell you that we haven’t even engaged 10 per cent of our diaspora.
” What we always do is that we have been using technology. We plead to the National Assembly to assist us so that we could have continental offices so that we would be able to have direct access to Nigerians in the Disapora.
“Our inability to have offices abroad is not allowing us to engage 10 per cent of Nigerians in the Diaspora.”(NAN)