President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met with Nigerians living in Spain on the sidelines of his official visit, pledging that Nigeria will continue to defend the interests of its nationals living abroad.
He equally challenged all citizens pursuing legitimate businesses abroad to always invest wisely back home in Nigeria as part of their contributions towards transforming the nation’s economy.
The Diaspora team, which met with the president, included John Bosco, President of the association; his deputy, Richard Omoregbe, Super Eagles player who plies his trade with Leganes FC, Madrid; Kenneth Omeruo and Obinna Okafor, a football agent.
Others were Mohammed Bashir, a student of Aviation; Segun Adedoyin, studying Global Affairs; and Bright Omorodion, a businessman.
President Buhari told the Nigerians, whom he described as ambassadors of the country in Spain:
“Many of you are here for different reasons, some for a fulfilling career in sports, especially in football from where you earn respectable incomes to sustain yourselves as well as maintain your extended families in Nigeria including investments back home.
“Some of you are engaged in other businesses that have enhanced your socio-economic status, both here and at home.
“More importantly, through your commitment to your various callings, you have enhanced the name and image of our country, thereby, earning Nigeria respect in Spain.
“I have also been informed of how law-abiding you are here in Spain.
“I wish to encourage you to continue to be role models for our youth back home as well as sustain the image of being excellent Ambassadors of Nigeria in Spain and live peacefully in the various communities in which you reside here.”
The president, whom Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM, described as “the most Diaspora-loving President”, explained why he established the commission:
“As I have always done whenever I am abroad, I wish to reassure all of you in Spain, of the determination of the Federal Government of Nigeria, to continue to remain engaged with our compatriots in the diaspora, for more purposeful partnerships that impact our country and people.
“It is in the quest for actualising this objective that I established the Diaspora Commission to give focus to the management of this partnership that leads to a win-win situation for Nigeria, at home and abroad.
“I believe that you are aware of how important your character, conduct and comportment in your daily activities define your roles as Ambassadors and image promoters of Nigeria abroad.
“As you perform this responsibility, I encourage you to embrace purposeful investments back home. Such investments can be financial or through your talents and skills which can help mould and develop our youths.
“On the part of the Federal Government, Nigeria will continue to aggressively protect and defend the interests of all Nigerians abroad, especially the law-abiding compatriots.”
The president touched on the many challenges facing the country, assuring that the government will not rest on its oars in surmounting them.
“Despite our numerous challenges at home, such as the containment of terrorist activities and other forms of threats to our national security as well as the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our government continues to work assiduously to tackle challenges of infrastructural development, power, water, transportation, housing, etc, with a view to creating the enabling environment for our collective prosperity.
“Our unity in diversity has always been our strength. I therefore call on all Nigerians, including those of you in the Diaspora, to join hands with us in building the Nigeria we desperately want,” he said.
On politics, the president said the country had started the process leading to national elections in 2023.
According to him, the federal government is working tirelessly to ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission delivers credible, free and fair elections and a smooth transition to the next democratic government.
“This is with a view to concretising our democracy and being an example to other African countries,” he stated.
Super Eagles player Kenneth Omeruo presented Buhari with a football and jersey in appreciation of the Nigerian leader’s support for sports, especially the Super Eagles.
Other senior government officials with the President at the event were Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare; Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Ademola Seriki; and Special Assistant to the President on Sports, Daniel Amokachie.