The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri, has called on Nigerians to reject attempts at stereotyping them, saying the negative label against the country is not a true reflection of who we are.
Abike gave this charge in Abuja during the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) International Conference 2019, organized in collaboration with the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Abuja.
Commenting on the theme of the conference: “Pan-Africanism and the Forging of a New African Identity in the 21st Century”, Abike who said the Diaspora is beginning to change the face of Africa and the way the world looks at us as a continent, stressed that the Nigerian Diaspora is one of the reasons why our economy has not collapsed.
In her words “We cannot talk about Pan-Africanism without the Diaspora. As you know, African Union has declared the Diaspora, the 6th region of the world and we are just waiting for it to be formally accepted. It is very important that we pay more attention to our culture because that is who we are; our values and our languages are part of who we are. Every part of Nigeria is beautiful and we must celebrate ourselves because nobody will do it for us.”
She further disclosed that with last year’s remittance of $26 billion to the Nigerian economy by Nigerians in the Diaspora, the Diaspora Commission remains committed towards promoting our culture and bringing Africa together. “On our part from the Diaspora Commission, we have a very important programme called the door of return. Recall that slaves were taken away years back through the point of no return in Badagry and what we have done is to introduce what we call the door of return. We take them through the slave routes; they see how their forefathers were taken away through that door and then we open a beautiful door for them. They were taken away as slaves but they return as kings and queens back to the continent. This is what we are doing in terms of promoting our culture and bringing Africa together”, she said.
In a goodwill message, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, expressed regrets that Nigerians in different parts of the world are treated poorly over issues of wrong identity. “It is rather unfortunate. Recently, there were reports that 26 Nigerians were arrested in different parts of the world in less than 2 months and I know this is not true. I made a statement in china that the people arrested are not Nigerians. If you travel to some far parts of the world, they think Africa is Nigeria and so anybody that commits an offence is a Nigerian”, he said.
Otunba who maintained that no country in the world has total security and Nigeria’s case should not be celebrated, stressed that the conference was an opportunity for us as Nigerians to reawaken our consciousness that we must build a Nigeria that the unborn Nigerians will come to enjoy.
While expressing optimism that nothing is worth separating Nigeria, the NCAC Boss reiterated that all over the world, there is no country that became a champion without going through challenges; hence we must allow ourselves to go through challenges in order to appreciate ourselves when we become champions.
On his part, the Acting Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Louis Eriomala said one of the ways Nigerians can overcome the global stigmatization is to look inward, see the things that unite us as a nation, promote them and learn to love ourselves.
Media Asst.-Ag. ES