Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has commended the young Nigerian rugby star, Maro Itoje, for being a good ambassador of Nigeria.
Abdur-Rahman Balogun, NIDCOM Head of Media and Public Relations In a statement said Dabiri-Erewa gave the commendation in NIDCOM liason office in Lagos on Thursday when she hosted Itoje and his parents to a reception.
The NIDCOM boss was particularly thrilled by the art exhibition which Maro Itoje had in London.
“With the History Untold exhibition, he tried to tell Nigerians and Africans generally about their history and for the younger ones to know their roots,” she said.
She added that NIDCOM would team up with Itoje in his future programmes.
“For us at the Commission, we would like to work with you, in every sense of the word. We have programmes like the Door of Return, which takes place in Badagry every year, the Diaspora Day, which is on July 25, among other numerous programmes.”
Responding, the England international rugby star, Maro Itoje pledged to commit his time, resources and expertise to better the lives of the under privileged in Africa and Nigeria, in particular.
He said he had never lost touch with Nigeria as he had been to the country on numerous occasions.
“My last visit to Nigeria was in 2018 and I am championing the African cause in England with my art. I organised an art exhibition tagged ‘History Untold’ recently and it was a huge success.”
He said History Untold was a deliberate attempt at telling the story of Africa from the African perspective.
“All we have been told by Europeans about Africa has been negative. They tell you about slave trade, coups, diseases and so forth. So, the whole essence of History Untold is to celebrate the power of Black history, African history that has not been told to us. It is an attempt to tell that untold story, to tell the other side of the coin.”
Itoje pledged to commit his resources to the development of the country and was prepared to team up with the commission to add to the progress that had already made.
On making rugby popular in Nigeria, the England and Irish Lions player, who was accompanied to the occasion by his parents said the sport in Nigeria was still very small but there was a lot of potential.
“Judging by the amount of Nigerians in the diaspora who play rugby, it goes to show how we are naturally built for the game. We have the natural talent and ability for the game, so back home there is a lot of potential and possibilities abound.
“So I will be happy to lend a helping hand to see the game grow in Nigeria.” he said.