George Omo-Iduhon, chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organization Europe (NIDOE), Italy Chapter, said more than 1.5 million registered Nigerians are in dire need of Nigerian passports.
This was explained by Mr Omo-Iduhon in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday, while reflecting on NIDOE’s activities in Europe.
NAN reports that NIDOE is the European arm of a global Nigerian diaspora network founded in 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
NIDOE is headquartered in London, where it serves 21 regional associations.
Mr Omo-Iduhon said that of around three million Nigerians registered in Italy, 1.5 million required passports that would have prevented them from returning home or finding a job.
“One of the problems we face as Nigerians living in Italy is the acute shortage of Nigerian passports. Most of the time we go to the embassy to solve the problem.
“What we usually get in response is the lack of brochures and backlogs. The government should help address this problem because Italy is the gateway to other countries in Europe, especially for Nigerians.
“Most Nigerians prefer their political asylum in Italy. In Italy we have more Nigerians than in other European countries; the registered Nigerians are, according to the database, in addition to the undocumented three million.
“About 1.5 million Nigerians in Italy have no passports, even some of those who have been accepted by the Italian government have not issued a passport, making it difficult for them to work,” he said.
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The chairman said the delivery of 500 passport booklets to the Nigerian embassy in Italy was totally inadequate to serve the number of citizens who needed them.
“The number of brochures given to the Embassy in Italy, 500, is insignificant for the number of applicants; even the distribution of 20,000 brochures to Italy in one month may not catch on.
“Using the same apportionment formula for all countries in Europe cannot work in Italy, where we have more Nigerian residents. We cannot be compared to Sweden with fewer Nigerian residents.
“We appeal to the relevant government authorities and our gracious Interior Minister Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola to help us solve this problem.
“The chairwoman of NIDCOM, Ms. Abike Dabiri, tried it for us too,” he said.
Mr Omo-Iduhon said the panel had a change of leadership following an election in July 2021, adding that the new government is poised to improve the welfare of Nigerians.
“We just had our elections this July. The first thing we did as a team was to set out to improve the welfare of Nigerians in Italy. This is of the greatest interest to us.
“We are also working with the Nigerian Embassy in Italy to do the right thing at the right time and, above all, to do our job of bringing investors from Italy to Nigeria.
“We need to grow Nigeria’s economy, a mission we were founded for by former President Obasanjo to support the development offensive,” he added.
NIDOE is recognized as the official platform through which individual Nigerians in the diaspora, their communities, organizations and corporations can direct their development efforts to Nigeria.
The organization works with the Nigerian community, professional organizations, and public and private companies in priority areas such as foreign direct investment, professional networking, advocacy, medical missions, educational support and skills transfer to Nigeria. (NAN)
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