By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the few Nigerians abroad indulging in criminal activities do not represent the values of majority of the people of the country.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement in Abuja, said President Buhari stated this when he met with leaders of the Nigerian Community living in Japan.
The meeting was on the sidelines of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), on Thursday in Yokohama, Japan.
The President declared: “Let me also say that there are few Nigerians in the Diaspora that are giving us a bad name by engaging in criminal activities.
“These Nigerians are a minority, they do not represent the values of our country, and I plead with them to change their ways.
“We will not condone any crime whether at home or abroad, and we will also not allow these Nigerians define us as a people with reputation for criminality.”
While urging Nigerians in Japan to be good ambassadors of their fatherland, the Nigerian leader said, “I am personally very happy that there are millions of Nigerians all over the world, like you here, who are truly making us proud.”
He described majority of the over 17 million Nigerians in Diaspora as “the face of Nigeria globally and our ambassadors for good.”
The President noted that, “Many of our Diasporans, like your good selves here today, have excelled in varying fields of endeavor, both professionally and individually.
“You have also made significant and overwhelmingly positive contributions to your Nigerian and international host communities.
“You have continually been a positive bridge between Nigeria and the world. It is not an easy feat and we commend you, salute your courage and efforts.”
According to him, Japan is at the cutting edge of technology and efficiency, ‘`two very important attributes that can play a role in Nigeria and improve our capacity for development.”
President Buhari urged members of his audience to continue to contribute their quota by helping to develop their host country and Nigeria as well.
He added: “I look forward to your inborn gift, ability, and capacity in taking up this challenge.”
He also commended many of them who had been “positively impacting the Nigerian economy through financial home remittances, promoting international trade in Nigerian commodities, our music, culture, tourism, sports, and education.
The Nigerian leader noted with delight that some of them had also helped to establish industries in Nigeria.
The President urged them “to encourage legitimate Japanese entrepreneurs to come and invest in Nigeria.”
“We are continually working to create the necessary enabling environment for investors to thrive, through improvements in our Ease of Doing Business practices, providing security, diversification of the economy, infrastructure and fighting corruption.
“We have put in place the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERPG) to put the country on a path of sustained recovery and growth,’’ he said.
The president further explained the rationale for his regular meetings with Nigerians abroad and the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.
President Buhari said: “As you are aware, I have regularly held town hall meetings with Nigerians in the Diaspora on all my foreign engagements be they in Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
“At these fora, I have always, appealed to our citizens to be our good ambassadors, observe the laws of your host countries, excel in whatever you do legitimately, and also remember us at home (Nigeria).
“I have established the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission specifically to engage with you, signifying a coordinated attempt by our administration to increase the involvement of our Diaspora in our national development.
“Collectively, your resources, skills, and talents will be a positive force for our country which can help accelerate our national growth and development.”
In her remarks, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Diaspora Commission, who coordinated the event, described the President as “the most Diaspora-friendly leader we have had in Nigeria.”
The event, according to the presidential aide, witnessed “a parade of the brightest and best of our citizens, plying their trade in Japan.’’
Prof. Ejiogu Emenike, President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Asia (NIDOASIA) and an energy expert, commended President Buhari for efficient leadership, and disclosed that his members had “comparative advantages in human capital development, which we are trying to bring back to Nigeria.”
He added: “Any problem that science and technology can solve, we are able to, and we can help Nigeria in areas of need.”
Mr Ochade Osakwe, Chairman, Nigeria/Japan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, recounted businesses that had been attracted to Nigeria in recent times, promising to do more, as the security and investment climates back home improved further.
Mr Nnaji Fintan, the President of Nigerian Union in Japan, asked for more exploits in the areas of education, quality infrastructure and security, which incidentally, are focal points of the current administration.
Other in attendance of the meeting included academics, industrialists, top businessmen, scientists, economists, and many others.