The townhall for diaspora Nigerians held on Twitter Space was held on the 10th and 11th of February 2023. On the first day, “Political Participation and the Nigeria Diaspora” was the subject of discussion. It took the form of an intensive panel session moderated by Olugbemi Jesunbo. Participants exchanged ideas and strategies addressing how Nigerians would be able to influence change from anywhere, especially the diaspora. These conversations factored in the current reality of Nigeria and made recommendations about the future. The panellists shared their frustrations on their inability to actively participate in elections notwithstanding their major contribution to Nigeria’s economy. While they agreed that Nigeria was not able to conduct elections overseas yet, the argument that Diaspora Nigerians were not affected by the results of elections was rejected. Many of them pointed out that they had family members in Nigeria whom the outcome of the elections, directly affect. The possibility of electronic voting as an alternative to physical voting was well-favoured among the panelists and the role of Diaspora Organizations was also objectively evaluated. At the end of the first day, listeners were effectively educated on the roles that diaspora Nigerians can play in the politics of their home country. This included political awareness, funding of campaigns and the effective use of social media. We had Dolapo Makinde and John Oluwadero as the panellists who were present in the townhall. Dr Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi also actively contributed to the discussion.
On the second day of the townhall, the topic “Japa Culture: A Blessing or a Curse” was actively engaged by the keynote speakers: Dr. Olumuyiwa Igbalajobi and Onifade Temi . On an invisible scale, a balance was sought between the possible advantages and disadvantages of a hurried departure from a person’s home country to the abroad. This is what the term “japa” implies, a hurried escape from one’s country without a thought for returning. It was agreed that japa could mean an opportunity for individuals to improve the quality of their life and be better positioned to help others. It could also mean an opportunity to serve the needs of one’s home country better, after obtaining quality education and exposure overseas. On the flip side, it could mean brain drain resulting in the loss of professionals and experts, who could have contributed actively to the country’s growth and development. At the end of the meeting, the answer to the question of whether japa culture was a blessing or a curse was left for subjective interpretations.
On both days, we had a combined listener count of 300 participants. The participants engaged actively with the themes of the townhall showing that they resonated with the topics of the day. Participants were drawn from different countries including Israel, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and others.
It is the right conclusion that Nigerians are eager to develop their country. The feverish anticipation and participation in this event showed that the birth of a new nation is around the corner. And PFF will help to birth this new nation.