“I never thought I would ever come back to Nigeria but for the enlightenment of NiDAN.”
These were the words of James Rotimi, a top researcher at Harvard University. Mr Rotimi, (36) left Nigeria to study Engineering at Harvard after which he got a scholarship to do his masters as well as PhD in the US. He was retained and now living the American dream as a senior researcher at Harvard University.
According to Rotimi: “ I have always wanted to come back to Nigeria but from what I’ve been reading and hearing, talent is not appreciated in Nigeria. I had a lot of fears as to whether I would get a Job and where to work. The insecurity issues also troubled me but not as much as my future after Harvard. However, things have changed since I met Dr. Jideofor Adibe (A member NiDAN) who informed me about a good Diasporan network which guides Diasporas on how to find their footing across Nigeria.”
Nigerians in Diaspora Alumni Network (NiDAN) is an independent, non-governmental, non-political and non-partisan forum for Diasporan Nigerians, with membership from 36 states of the federation, appears to tap into the fears and concerns of those itching to return as well as the existential needs of those who have relatively settled down.
Formed on October 1 2010, NiDAN, which has its Head Office in Abuja, says its key objective is to “promote, advance and advocate the economic, political, social and professional interests of Nigerians who have spent at least one year outside the country, and have returned to contribute to national development.”
The group is therefore both a networking group and a sort of ‘soft-landing’ for returning Diasporans as it offers them a forum to comingle with people who have a similar background of living away from home and are possibly also navigating through the same labyrinth of reverse culture shock. It particularly helps the new arrivals in negotiating how to re-engage with the country.
With several of its members being well established either in public service, academics or running their own businesses, NiDAN is a bold statement to Diaspora Nigerians that returning home is ‘doable’.
Rotimi revealed he now shuttles between Nigeria and the US. In Nigeria, the Harvard researcher is developing a mini computer engineering village where interested Nigerians will be trained to understand the intricacies of software development among others. “I am now giving back to my nation by developing partnership for proffering solutions to some of our development challenges,” he concluded.
As a networking group, NiDAN encourages its members to set up Special Purpose Vehicles to bid for contracts or develop viable project proposals. It also helps its members with sourcing for funds for such projects. NiDAN equally encourages its members to use whatever contacts they may have to attract investments into the country as part of its mission of helping to expand the country’s economic base.
NiDAN holds its next monthly meeting at:
Venue: Global Distance Learning Institute, Ralph Sodeinde Street, Opposite Federal Ministry of Finance, Central Business District, Abuja.