The University of Ibadan is to host the establishment of the first of its kind in Africa a Diaspora Resource and Research Centre. Dr. Senayon Olaoluwa, the Head of Diaspora and Transnational Studies in the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, gave the cheering news during his courtesy visit on the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in Abuja.
Olaoluwa, who is the coordinator for the proposed centre, said the world class centre was being facilitated by Dabiri-Erewa to aid research on Diaspora development. The Senior Lecturer, who stressed on the importance of Diaspora, said history had shown that economic world powers derived their wealth from their Diasporas.
He said the centre, which would be knowledge-driven and research-oriented for Diaspora development, would complement the department, which is the first of its kind too in Africa. Olaoluwa said there was the need to put in place modalities that would enhance the repatriation of resources of the Diaspora for the development of the nation.
According to him, it is high time countries begin to look at a relationship between home country like Nigeria and what can the nation gets out of the relationship. He said: “And it is a kind of mutual developmental agenda through which we think what has been lost can be brought back because the Diaspora is basically and fundamentally not being at home.
“And when you are not at home, a space is created.
“How do we tackle that in terms of resource and how do we gain what we have lost?
“We are now talking about development that we cannot ignore in the 21st century.
“The question is now, how do we feel the impact of those not at home?
“And how do we harness the resources being mobilized by our people outside the homeland for the development of the homeland?
“We need to go beyond the informal mobilization of Diaspora resources to how the Diaspora will be redone as it were for the national development.”
To complement that, Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that Nigeria is working on a National Diaspora Policy guideline geared towards regulating all engagements with the Diaspora. She explained that the policy, when in place, would allow Nigerians in Diaspora to make inputs in policies and programmes of the government.
She noted that nothing much could be achieved without a workable policy framework to engage Nigerians in Diaspora. According to her, Nigerians in the Diaspora are of high importance to the growth and development of the country.
She said: “Diaspora is the future and it will dictate a lot of things in the 21st century.
“We will work with the intellectuals to ensure a better framework.
“We can’t be talking about a framework without a policy.
“So we are at a stage of formulating a Diaspora policy.
“It’s a shame that all these years we don’t have a Diaspora policy, but we are working on a document soon.
“We are going to partner with you in the academics as we work on this policy framework to engage all Nigerians in Diaspora.”
According to Dabiri-Erewa, it is important that the Diasporas are part of the engagement and policies and programme of government despite the fact that they are home in Nigeria.
She said President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to create a good enabling environment both for Nigerians at home and the Diaspora to put hands together to make Nigeria a true great country.
She, therefore, called on all Nigerians in the Diaspora to key into Buhari’s desire to engage them, stressing that the President was ready to work with them to reposition the country.
Dabiri-Erewa promised that the Federal Government through her office was prepared to partner with the proposed research Centre in University of Ibadan.