Donning many a colour in many a hue, expatriates from Nigeria came together to celebrate the National Day of their country in style. The party to celebrate the 56th year of independence was a grand affair.
Organised by Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), the only community organisation for Nigerians in Qatar, the celebrations held at a local hotel were attended by a large number of people from the community besides diplomats and other guests.
Enoch Duchi, Charge d’affaires, started the festivities by cutting the special National Day cake along with Amadi Nwokocha, President of NIDO, and other members.
Celebrations to mark the National Day that falls on October 1 every year featured music and dance performances by local music band BGEES and other volunteers, comedy skits, children’s shows and lively game shows that concluded with participants winning valuable gifts.
“As Nigeria celebrates its 56th year of its independence, I, on behalf of President of Nigeria Muhammudu Buhari thank HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the people of Qatar for their hospitality. Nigerians based in Qatar appreciate you,” said Enoch Duchi while addressing the gathering.
Referring to Nigerian President Buhari’s visit to Qatar earlier this year, a first by a sitting Nigerian head of state, Duchi thanked HH the Emir for the reception extended to him.
He said the two leaders discussed areas of bilateral relations and signed two agreements; the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and Avoidance of Double Taxation. Two more agreements were negotiated which will be signed soon, he added.
These agreements will jumpstart a lot of bilateral activities between the two countries, said Duchi.
“Nigeria remains one of the biggest economies and the most populous nation in Africa which makes it the number one investment destination. We warmly welcome investors in the areas of agriculture, mining, healthcare, tourism, oil and gas,” said the charge d’affaires.
“In addition to the huge investment opportunities, the government has put in place additional policies to protect new investments including tax holiday, access to land and abolition of double taxation. The state and people of Qatar should take advantage of these opportunities and invest in Nigeria,” he suggested.
Speaking to Community, Amadi Nwokocha said there were more than 7,500 Nigerians living in Qatar and most of them were working in organisations like Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Foundation and other corporations.
“I would like to congratulate the Nigerian people living here in Qatar on our 56th National Day. I would commend them for being good residents of Qatar and good ambassadors of Nigeria here in Qatar,” said the NIDO president.
He encouraged his compatriots to further lift the image of their country and refrain from engaging in any illegal activity.
Commenting on the National Day celebrations, he said NIDO tried to make it bigger and better than last year. Apart from sponsors like Emirates Airline, Ethiopian Airlines and other companies, members of Nigerian Diaspora, he said, had shown keen interest in the preparations.
Nwokocha said NIDO’s communication network has improved tremendously over the past one year after they launched a revamped website and an attractive professional logo.
“We are now producing identity cards for Nigerians in Qatar which are of very good quality. Through these ID cards, every Nigerian can have an identification number which is unique to the individual,” he said.
NIDO has also signed an agreement with Ethiopian Airlines to give Nigerians a certain discount on different locations in Nigeria when they travel to and from Qatar. Recently, they had a similar agreement with Emirates Airlines for destinations in Africa from both Doha and Dubai.
“That is a lot of saving for Nigerians residing here in Qatar. Also, in June this year, in collaboration with National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), we have designated three community coordinators for Nigerians living here,” said the NIDO president.
It is for the first time that the Nigerians have a desk at the NHRC where officials hear complaints by Nigerian expatriates related to any issues of labour or any other form of discrimination at the workplace.
Currently, the organisation is revising its constitution which it hopes to complete by December this year, following which suitable changes would be made.
NIDO is the only community organisation recognised by the government and Nigerian embassy working for the welfare of overseas Nigerians. It is an organisation for all Nigerians living outside of their country; the Qatar chapter is just one of the many the world over.
The organisation holds scores of cultural activities throughout the year. NIDO’s social media platforms on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn, have also been activated, opening more ways for people to interact with Nigerians living in Qatar and elsewhere.
Whenever there is an issue concerning Nigerians, the organisation quickly disseminates information to the people through their mailing list. And if there are any issues with the Nigerian citizens, they immediately liaise with the embassy to try to get it resolved.
Most of the artists who participated in National Day celebration activities were locals from the Nigerian Diaspora. Nwokocha said they try to encourage local Nigerians to participate to harness their potential.
The live band BGEES is made up of Nigerians. They are a group of friends who converged through music in Qatar and formed the band.
“One of the brands of music that we play involves heavy percussions. The drums involved are a combination of traditional Nigerian instruments besides the regular drums,” Bosun, one of the members of the band, told Community. They were invited to be the band for the day. They are the only Nigerian live band based in Qatar.
“We performed songs on the theme of the National Day. For instance, one of the songs that we performed calls upon all Nigerians to come together so that we could make our country a better place,” said Gbenga, the other member of the band.
“One of the songs exhorts that Nigeria is for us all and we should all make it a better place to live. Everybody should work hand in hand because we are still going to go back to our country,” he added.
It started out as a four-member band, but gradually expanded to include more musicians and players. It now has 10 members and they perform on stage to suit the occasion.
The members say they try their best to project the image of Nigeria through music and it has become their signature. The five-year-old band regularly performs at gigs around the country for the Nigerian community, and other occasions.
Besides music, the celebrations included cultural shows representing eastern, western and northern parts of Nigeria. The singers sang local cultural and folk songs from Nigeria. The guests were served a lavish dinner as well.
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