"A village is not made up of a handful of heroes, but of many people" - CHINUA ACHEBE (Things Fall Apart).
The Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization (NIDO) is made up of the Nigerians living in Diaspora. About 6,351 Nigerians live in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In line with the Central Vision of NIDO Europe, NIDO Swiss brings Nigerians living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein together; to identify those willing to offer their skills to assist Nigeria’s national development.
Excerpt from the Interview with NIDO Swiss president, Dr. Johnson Odibo
Could you introduce your organization and Nigerian Diaspora in Switzerland and Liechtenstein?
In line with the Central Vision of NIDO Europe, NIDO Swiss brings Nigerians living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein together; to identify those willing to offer their skills (Education, Information Technology, Health, Economic, Science, Administration, Law, Political and Corporate Governance, Management, etc.) to assist Nigeria’s national development.
These skills are needed in developmental projects by government and non-governmental organizations. NIDO Swiss, as a result, requires those Nigerians living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein who can afford to spend a period of time in Nigeria to contribute their skills to help the country.
NIDO Swiss provides a unique opportunity for Nigerians living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein to learn to work and collaborate with one another in the task of nation-building of our homeland. The organization strongly believes that these Nigerians can make significant contributions through programs, policies, and advocacy to harness their talents, expertise, and resources for Nigeria’s development and nation-building.
Could you give us an overview for the last 3 years and how NIDO scale up operations between Switzerland, Liechtenstein & Nigeria?
According to Global Statistics and the “Diaspora Day 2020” address of the President of Nigeria; President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians in Diaspora (including those in Switzerland and Liechtenstein) have remitted over $25 billion annually in the past three years. This is about 6.0% of Nigeria’s annual GDP and upwards of 80% of our Nigeria’s budget. These remittances have positively impacted the livelihoods of Nigerians in terms of education, health, housing and Real Estate development, industry, trade and investments, agriculture and technology/skills transfer.
On the operations side, NIDO Swiss was under a care-taker committee setup by the Nigerian Embassy and Key stakeholders in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, from 2016 – 2019 (after the NIDO Swiss crisis of 2015).
Since December 2019; with the election of me as President and other members of the NIDO Swiss Executive Board, we have initiated programs to set NIDO Swiss and Liechtenstein on a new path to:
In 2020 alone, we have registered NIDO Swiss with Handelsregisteramt. We have also built a database on our collaborative website to capture the details of Nigerian Professionals. We have grown our reach to expand the number of registered Nigerian professionals with NIDO Swiss and Liechtenstein. We have run the successful Town hall meeting and also executed a ZOOM training session to help Nigerians in Switzerland and Liechtenstein initiate a 10-year Real Estate investment and retirement planning.
NIDO facilitates the involvement of Nigerians in impacting Sustainable Development in Nigeria; what shape is that taking?
My response to this question is mixed: In the first place, it is very true that NIDO facilitates the involvement of Nigerians in impacting sustainable Development in Nigeria, however, apart from encouraging upskilling and acquisition of new skills; so the Diasporas can transfer such skills in ICT and industry, Medical missions, lecturers in Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics, NIDO wishes to add more value; if all Nigerians in the Diaspora can vote and be voted for - irrespective of where they reside outside Nigeria. If this happens, Nigerians in Diaspora will be able to influence the political landscape of Nigeria and be able to influence pragmatic leaders for good and responsible Governance.
We in the NIDO Swiss and Liechtenstein leadership are doing our bit to drive this awareness in the programs and initiatives we pursue for example:
Integration & Nation Building, Jobs and Career support, Networking and Social GROWTH, Empowerment and Next GENs, Investment/Entrepreneurship Seminars and Creativity & IDEA development.
How did the Nigerian community, precisely in Switzerland and Liechtenstein react during the COVID-19 lockdown?
Initially, there was fear and Panic. But we in NIDO Swiss sent out an email to calm their fears and to buttress the fact that only a very minute percentage of infected persons will die from the Virus. After that, they were calm and observed the safety measures announced in March this year. I personally did not hear of any breach of Safety guidelines issued by the Swiss Government.
Apart from a few job losses - especially for those in direct customer services, most other simply went about their jobs remotely. My daughter also lost her job, but she is now working again – after the Swiss Government lifted some restriction.
From a NIDO Swiss Executive standpoint, we also helped to propagate awareness through emails and WhatsApp with very useful links to Official Swiss Government websites for useful information about Corona Virus and COVID-19, Dos-& Don’ts, as well as Global Corona Virus Statistics.
Only one Nigerian who lives in Geneva was infected with the Virus but was treated and discharged to self-Isolate at home. He is now fully recovered and gone back to work
According to the original currency Eco, is there any hope for its real implementation in Economic Community of West African States, and for a uniform roll-up of the currency? What are some of the advantages of the currency for Nigerian Diaspora?
Here, I have a mix of Optimism and Pessimism. Apart from the Eco bringing the regions and Africa the much awaited economic independence from the France and the CFA, the single currency could still be a target in the future. As Andrew S. Nevin, Chief Economist, Nigeria Clients and Markets Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) puts is; “for Nigeria, the eventual uniformed adoption of the single currency challenges the sovereignty of its naira”
While some 8 Francophone countries are speeding to implement the Eco, I fear many regional dependencies which could derail the uniform roll-out of the currency may not have been fully addressed or articulated and it may take some while before many other countries will come on-board. However, my optimism is that the adoption of the Eco brings an end to 75 years of France’s dominance in the monetary affairs of its former colonies. I am confident that these countries that have adopted the Eco or are in the process of implementing it will focus on seeing the new trade and financial freedom and its possibilities to fruition; and will not want to default those years when they were impoverished by French draconian monetary policies in Francophone Africa.
For Nigerians in the Diaspora wishing to invest in any of the countries in the Eco block, this is a huge advantage but they are still waiting to see how this unfolds.