DIASPORA community leaders in the UK have presented the government with a white paper titled We are Marching on Together Towards a Better Nigeria aimed at improving the quality of consular services at the London high commission.
Put together by 42 community leaders representing the Nigerian associations in the UK, the 40-page document was presented to the government by the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) and the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (Nido) UK. It was received in behalf of the government by the high commissioner to the UK Justice George Oguntade and Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chair of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission.
At the handover ceremony which took place at the Nigerian high commission in London, yesterday, Justice Oguntade promised to read the document and act on the recommendations. Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa added that the production and presentation of the document was the start of an engagement process with the diaspora that would involve holding meetings every quarter.
Canuk chairman Dr Boma Douglas said: “We community leaders in the UK have come together to put together this document and present it as a way of finding solutions to the problems we face at the high commission. It includes numerous recommendations on how to address these problems, which are short, medium and long term.
Nido chairman Chibuzor Ubochi added: “Representatives from the numerous Nigerian associations in the UK got together to look at the issues and then put together a set of recommendations that will solve the problem. This document we have put together can serve as a template for any Nigerian mission worldwide.”
Among the recommendations contained in the document are suggestions about how to speed up the issuance of passports, improving communications, updating the high commission’s website regularly, introducing a complaints procedure and improving access to the high commission building. It also recommended outsourcing some of the functions carried out by the high commission, especially as the UK diaspora has the skills set to offer many of these services.
Justice Oguntade responded saying: “I am pleased to receive this document on behalf of the high commission and we will look at it in details. Some of the issues can be addressed locally while some of the more far-reaching which may need to be sent to Abuja.”
Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa added: “I am very proud of you the UK diaspora for putting this together as it shows you are an active and vibrant community. This government takes diaspora matters very seriously, so we will be engaging with you and I look forward to working with you on the numerous programmes we have.”
After the presentation of the document, questions were also received from the floor on other matters including the plight of Nigerian prisoners in the UK, deportations and knife crime among Nigerian youths in London. It is now expected that the high commission will call for another meeting once the document has been studied to work on introducing the recommendations that were made.