CONSUL GENERAL GODWIN ADAMA ADDRESS THE ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS IN UKZN

CONSUL GENERAL GODWIN ADAMA ADDRESS THE ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS IN UKZN

THEME: MAINSTREAMING STUDENTS IN NIGERIA’S DIASPORAN WELFARE ADMINISTRATION: THE SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIENCE.

Invited Guests
1) Mayor Cllr Zandile Gumede
(Ethekwini Metropolitan Municipality)
2) Dr. Albert Van Jaarsveld – Vice Chancellor
(University of Kwazulu Natal – UKZN)
3) Invited Professors of the UKZN
4) International Students Management Officer
5) Leadership of the Nigerian Student Association
6) Students
7) Invited guests
8) Ladies and gentlemen

I count it a great honour and privilege to be invited to stand on this exalted platform this morning to speak to great leaders and students of this very important citadel of learning, the University of KwaZulu Natal. My presence here today is a testimony of the importance I attach to your organizational ability and sense of purpose by the visionary leadership of the organizers. I greatly appreciate the organizers for the honor.

October 1st celebration is the day Nigeria celebrates its independence. Nigeria will be 57 on October 1st 2017. On this note, there is, therefore, a good reason to tell the world our story and achievements.

Introduction

I officially assumed duties as Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg on 1st March 2017. Before my arrival, there were issues of attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in Johannesburg and Pretoria in February that left many Nigerians homeless and their properties and homes destroyed. The situation posed serious security challenges which our two countries needed to manage, and this absorbed my time immediately on arrival. Happily, the situation was brought under control following the visit to many of these troubled Communities, particularly the visit to South Africa by the Hon. Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior to interface with their South African counterparts.
2. Let me once again thank the Association of Nigerian Students for hosting this important event. I am delighted to see so much enthusiasm for a topic that has been close to my heart for years and which is crucial for Nigeria’s success in the 21st Century.
3. To achieve such shared growth, we must equip the new generation of talented and ambitious young Nigerians with the skills and knowledge to enable them formulate and implement strategies to resolve current and future challenges. The university system in Nigeria still reflects the legacy of our colonial past – the system was designed to produce a cadre of civil servants to administer the government, with emphasis on non-scientific disciplines which were only available to a small minority of students. Today, we need to reverse that trend, to allow the majority of our graduates to take up administrative positions in all our Ministries and at the same time possess the technical skill to develop our much needed infrastructure. Although with the establishment of several Universities of Technology in the country and private Universities, the trend is gradually changing.

NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT CHANGE INITIATIVES
4. Upon inauguration on May 29, 2015, the current Government of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari swung into action in the three Agenda-based critical areas of Security, Anti-corruption and the Economy and even within a short period, achieved great results, as it seeks to reposition Nigeria.

Anti-corruption
5. Government has sustained the war against corruption, despite great resistance from the corrupt elements in the society. Between May 29, 2015 and 25 May, 2016, a total of recovered loots were put at: N78.3 billion; $185.1m USD; and 3.5 million Pounds. Amount expected to be repatriated from Switzerland, United Kingdom, UAE and USA stands at N115 billion. The Federal Government, through the whistle-blower policy, has so far recovered $151 million and N8 billion of looted funds. Recently, N47.2 billion and $487.5m has been recovered from another corrupt former public office holder. An unprecedented number of high profile prosecution is on-ongoing, and the number is still counting and there is no relenting.

Economy
6. The Nigerian economy is on the upswing. The country is already out of recession, inflation is falling, unemployment is falling and the Foreign Reserve is rising, currently put at over $32 billion. Growth is in sight, and with corruption being fought to a standstill, the economy is set to for its greatness again.

7. In its current drive to diversify the economy from oil, the country is focusing on the development of non-oil sectors such as agriculture, solid minerals and mining, and already, these are yielding interesting dividends. For the first time, Nigeria is now exporting yam to about four countries at commercial quantities. Cashew is also now registering on the export index as a major export commodity, while rice is set to be another major Nigerian export commodity. With Nigeria already achieving self-sufficiency in rice production through the massive investment in the crop, it is set to start exporting rice by the end of this year.

Security
8. The Boko Haram insurgency has been degraded and normalcy has since returned to the Northeast of Nigeria, which was hitherto controlled by the Islamic militants. The Militancy in the Niger Delta has also been greatly subdued through constant dialogue and engagement of the Federal Government, and the relative peace and security in the country bears testimony to the improving economic conditions of the country.

9. With this symposium “Mainstreaming Students in Nigeria’s Diaspora Welfare Administration.” It is imperative to think of student’s welfare as an integral part of the National Diaspora policy and students’ mainstreaming as the strategies towards the attainment of that goal. Students’ mainstreaming has a wide-ranging theoretical and practical scope that falls under the broad subject matter of Diaspora Welfare Administration (DWA).
10. It is important to speak on goals, security and general welfare of Nigerian migrants, which remains one of the major challenges of Nigeria’s Diaspora Welfare Administration (DWA). Of this population, a significant number of students are enrolled in the PhD programs, mostly professionals and experts, including doctors, nurses, engineers, and other scientists, wishing to take full advantage of all the educational facilities available at UKZN.
11. I hope to do everything within my power and by the grace of God to ensure that Nigerian students in South Africa are provided relevant information on how to leverage the opportunities back home and allow government recognize and tap into the skills of students and graduates in South Africa.
12. My short stay and experience in South Africa has so far shown to me the efforts put in by Nigerian students in different citadels of learning and in several cases excelling and topping the class. As Consul General, I wish to assure you that in no time all these challenges will be a thing of the past and I can assure you that most Nigerian Diasporas all over the world are, in conjunction with the present Government, assisting to fill gaps in different sectors, thus moving the country forward. The time has never been more auspicious than now to focus on higher education, as being done globally. The burgeoning youth population of Nigeria will drive the growth and prosperity of the continent into the next generation, but only if we equip them to do so. I thank you again for the opportunity given to me to identify with your desire and aspirations.

SERVICE DELIVERY
13. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen. Great Nigerian Students Association.
Permit me to use this forum to inform you that the Consulate in Johannesburg is in the upswing with a new approach to service delivery. With the support of a very dedicated staff, we aspire to change the narrative of service delivery at the Consulate. Already, we have reduced the burden of consular charges to both Nigerians and South Africans who apply for consular and immigration services, and drastically reduced the duration within which those services are rendered. Production and issuance of Nigerian passports to Nigerian applicants which hitherto, took as long as six months to one year with untoward hardship on Nigerians is now done within one week and in certain cases, within the same day. We are working on further reducing the period of waiting.
14. As earlier mentioned, in addition to reducing the charges on Visas for intending visitors to Nigeria, the consulate now processes all visa applications within 48 hours in line with the Nigerian government directives. For those resident in Durban, the Consulate General of Nigeria in South Africa has appointed (GP Magnet PTY LTD) as an accredited agent in Durban as a Passport application center. Henceforth, adult passport application will not be more than R1, 800, including service charges, while children should not pay more than R1, 500. You can contact 0313013531 or visit gpmagnet1@gmail.com.
15. Other consular services are now taken directly to Nigerians wherever they live, and the processes of providing these services have been simplified. Within the limits of the Consulate’s resources, we will continue to render assistance to deserving individuals and Nigerian groups which we necessarily partner with to make life easier for our nationals in the country.
16. Distinguished Guests and Participants, I hope that this symposium is directly aligned to the Nigerian Diaspora Scheme set up with a view to attracting members of the Nigerian Diaspora back to Nigeria to participate in economic development. I equally urge the organizers to ensure wide dissemination of outcome of this symposium to relevant groups and authorities through publications and other means.
17. I wish to use this opportunity to reiterate the calls to all Nigerians in South Africa to be law abiding, and to reciprocate the generosity of South Africa by not engaging in any criminality and unlawful behaviors, but to engage in legitimate businesses that will continue to uphold the honor and dignity of our country.
18. The Consulate General has a desk dedicated to Education matters and it’s manned by a Senior diplomatic staff. Enquiries and concerns should be channeled through the desk for necessary attention. We are concerned for your welfare and shall not fail to remember you in our strategic planning on issues of Diasporan conversations and others. The Federal Government is concerned and has appointed a Permanent Secretary in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to attend to Diasporan issues.

19. I thank you all for listening.

Remain blessed.

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We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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