On Friday, 30 October 2009, for the first time in the annals of the Nigerian Diaspora movement in Russia, the Russian Chapter of the Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE-Russia) marked Nigeria Diaspora Day in Russia with a Forum held at the Conference Hall of the Russian Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Ulitsa Ilyinka, 6, Moscow. The theme of the Forum was “Working together for better Nigerian-Russian business cooperation: opportunities & perspective”.
The celebration of Nigeria Diaspora Day in Russia is in pursuance of the continental directive of Nigerians In Diaspora Organization Europe (NIDOE) that all Chapters should establish a day in their jurisdictions to mark Nigeria Diaspora Day.
Objectives of the forum:
2. Amongst other things, the objectives of this year’s Forum were:-
(i) to put Nigeria Diaspora Day on the calendar of events in Russia;
(ii) to officially introduce NIDOE-Russia to the Russian business community as a competent and effective partner in progress;
(iii) to present Nigerian investment environment and opportunities to potential Russian investors;
(iv) as part of a confidence building strategy, create atmosphere for interaction between Nigerian businesses and professionals with their Russian counterparts;
(v) to bring to fore database of Nigerian professionals in Russia, whose backgrounds, experiences and contacts could help facilitate business and investment contacts with Russia in pursuance of Nigeria’s national development.
3. The event was organised by NIDOE-Russia in collaboration with Russia-Nigeria Business Council and the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
4. The event was widely covered by the press and media outlets, most especially by APAnews, The Voice Magazine, The Russia Corporate World magazine and BuzinessAfrica portal.
5. His Excellency, the Ambassador of Federal Republic of Nigeria to Russian Federation, Maj.-Gen. Timothy Mai Shelpidi (rtd) was present as the Special Guest-of-Honour and Keynote speaker. His Excellency was accompanied by Mr. Onesimus Atanze, the minister (Economic, Trade & Investment) of the Embassy of Nigeria.
As the host, the Forum was declared open by Mr. Sergei Vasilev, the Director for International Cooperation of the Russian Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Mr. Vasilev congratulated NIDOE-Russia for the unprecedented event and emphasised that Nigerians that studied in Russia has a big role to play in fostering economic and cultural relationship between Nigeria and Russia. Mr. Albert Balkov, the Russian Chairman of the Russia-Nigeria Business Council was also present. Prof. Alexei Vasilev, the Director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Special advisor to President Dmitry Medvedev on contacts with African countries, was represented at the occasion by Prof. Yuriy Vinokurov, Head of the Centre for Tropical African Studies of the Institute. Other dignitaries at the event were representatives of Russian giant companies doing businesses in Nigeria.
6. About 60 participants drawn from Nigerians in different cities of Russia, the Russian Business community, Small and medium scale industries, Russian research institutes (Institute of African Studies), and professional bodies especially from technology and geological related agencies.
7. Following the formal opening of the Forum, a paper titled “Procedure for incorporating a business enterprise in Nigeria by a foreign investor” was delivered by H.E. Ambassador Timothy Mai Shelpidi. He highlighted the attractive incentives the government of Nigeria has for foreign investors in all the sectors of the Nigerian economy. He stressed that NIDOE-Russia in conjunction with other Nigerian organisations in Diaspora, has a role to play in bringing foreign [Russian] investors to Nigeria. He also reminded any potential investors not to base their business deals on only information sourced from the internet, but rather should always feel free to contact the Embassy of Nigeria in Moscow for first-hand information and assistance.
8. Mr. Albert Balkov, the Russian Chairman of the Russia-Nigeria Business Council presented his Council and spoke on the need for all progressive and competent Nigerians in Diaspora in Russia to partake in improving the Russian-Nigerian economic and trade ties. He declared his standing support and solidarity with NIDOE-Russia in its quest for the betterment of the Russia-Nigeria economic cooperation.
9. Dr. Bashir Obasekola, the Chairman of NIDOE-Russia made a presentation on NIDOE [Russia], highlighting the genesis of the organisation, its vision, strategies and future missions. He emphasised that the organisation is non-governmental, but aims to work and enjoy good relationship with all the arms of Nigerian government and also the Nigerian Embassies wherever they exist.
10. Dr. Ayo Ojajune, a member of Board of Trustees of the Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), presented a paper titled “Role of the Diaspora in the socio-economic development of Nigeria”. He highlighted such areas of contributions like financial remittances, human development, policy influence, Diaspora Investment fund, health missions, etc.
12. Other contributors made their speeches and remarks.
13. Mr. Rex Essenowo, the Coordinator of Events for NIDOE-Russia, who also acted as the interpreter for the event, in a vote of thanks speech thanked every participants of the Forum and promised that more of such gatherings aimed at improving and facilitating business and human contacts between Nigeria and Russia will henceforth become a frequent project for NIDOE-Russia. This will eventually enhance departure from stereotype and lead to confidence building, he concluded.
14. From the speeches and remarks of the event, the following could be deduced:
15. At the end of the event, hand-outs and souvenirs bearing the logo and emblems of NIDOE-Russia were distributed to all participants.
16. The communiqué was compiled with the contributions of:
1. Dr. Bashir Obasekola
2. Dr. Cyril Ohiara
3. Mr. Rex Essenowo
4. Mr. Patrick Egwakhide
5. Engr. Yusuf Isa
6. Dr. Abayomi Samuel
17. Thank you.