By Babajide Okeowo
The Federal Government on Tuesday admonished the Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) against sponsoring and offering its platform for secessionist groups.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the admonition during a visit of delegation of NIDO, UK Chapter, to his office in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the visit to the minister was part of the activities marking NIDO UK chapter’s ongoing initiative tagged, “A Week in & For Nigeria’’.
Mohammed said it was disheartening that secessionist groups campaigning around the world for their causes were using some Nigerians in Diaspora to propagate their fake narratives about the country.
He said it was also worrisome that the secessionist groups were relying on the financial contributions of some NIDO members to fund their nefarious activities.
The minister said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration considered NIDO as critical stakeholders in Nigerian project.
He said the consideration informed the unprecedented establishment the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), which, he said, had been doing a good job in coordinating and providing an organised system of collaborations of Nigerians in Diaspora.
“Thanks to the commission, issues affecting Nigerians in Diaspora have been receiving prompt attention.
“NIDCOM has also ensured that Nigerian in Diaspora are well informed about the activities of the government.
“It is therefore alarming and disappointing that some Nigerians in Diaspora still rely on platforms that peddle fake news and misinformation about Nigeria,’’ he said.
Mohammed noted that the avoidable division among Nigerians in Diaspora in some countries had hampered the engagements of the President with them each time he (President) travelled out.
He said prior to the division, the President and even his ministry had made the engagement with Nigerians in host country a regular affair.
“This is an unfortunate development, but we will not relent in seeking out and engaging with patriotic Nigerians in Diaspora,’’ he said.
Mohammed commended members of NIDO, UK chapter, for their patriotism and steadfastness in organising “A Week in & For Nigeria’’ aimed at shining a positive light on the country.
“This is what patriots do, not badmouthing their country around the world.
“I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to appeal to NIDO to seize the initiative from those who are bent on painting Nigeria bad in the comity of nations,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the government acknowledged the challenges facing the country, especially in the area of insecurity and was earnestly tackling them.
He reiterated his position that no government in the history of the country had done so much with so little.
“The administration came in at a time that the country has lost one third of its revenue, due to a drastic crash in oil prices.
“Despite that, the administration has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of infrastructure – roads, rail, power, housing, dams, etc.
“In agriculture, the country is closer than ever to achieving self-sufficiency in major staples.
“The administration is prosecuting the fight against corruption in an institutionalised manner as well as the revamping of the economy, especially through diversification,’’ he said.
Mohammed, therefore, urged the Nigerians in Diaspora to complement government efforts rather than propagating fake narratives and untrue allegations of religious persecution, political marginalisation and human rights abuses.
“As an organised and well connected group, I implore NIDO to leverage its contacts in government circles, parliamentary groups and global think tanks in world capitals to help change the narrative.
“I also urge them to sweep the carpet off the feet of secessionist groups, insurgents and anarchists who are bent on pushing false narratives to portray Nigeria in bad light.
“I have no doubt that you will take this call seriously and do everything in your power to change the narrative for the better,’’ he said.
The minister disclosed that the government was re-engineering and ramping up diplomatic efforts to counter and reverse the narrative, in addition to countering pervasive anti-government propaganda.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr Chibuzor Ubochi, said “A Week In & For Nigeria’’ initiative was designed to celebrate the country and encourage their members to do things for the country.
Ubochi said the two focal points of the week long celebrations were passage of enabling laws to allow their members to vote and be voted for, as well as advocacy for 24-hour electricity in Nigeria.
He thanked the President for approving the gazetting in the annual Calendar of the nation, July 25, National Diaspora Day.