By Abdur-Rahman Balogun
Just like yesterday, the young baby birthed in far away Jos, Plateau State, on October 11, 1962 is 60 years on the planet. Sixty years of eventful and impactful life, with its fair of ups and downs. Sixty years full of praises to Almighty Allah who has been benevolent to Hon. (Dr.) Kafayat Oloruntoyin Abike Dabiri-Erewa. An indigene of Ikorodu from the famous Erogbogbo family in Lagos State, she has, right from her childhood till date, been a front-liner, a go-getter, an ice breaker, a workaholic, an amazon, a humanist per excellence, a detribalised Nigerian, a patriotic citizen and a devoted servant of Allah. I couldn’t get enough words to fully describe this ebullient woman of substance who has consistently demonstrated her efficiency and diligence right from her eventful years at NTA till her sojourn in politics which made her a three-time parliamentarian in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015, representing her people in Ikorodu Federal Constituency, where she played an active and impactful role in all the national assignments she was given. Her trademark diligence and dynamism was further brought to bear when she was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs from 2016 to 2019. This office later metamorphosed into the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) where she is currently serving as the pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and where she has continued to play her role diligently, effectively and inspirationally.
On March 23rd, 2022, on the eve of the remarkable event at which the authorities of Lagos State University bestowed on her a Honorary Doctorate Degree during its 25th Convocation ceremony on March 24th, 2022, I wrote that the award was well-deserved and would change her nomenclature to Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. It was one honour too distinctive so truly well-deserved and so uncommonly well-appreciated. All those who have been following the selfless, proactive, exemplarily motivational life of Hon. Kafayat Abike Dabiri-Erewa, would have seen that it has been rewarded and appreciated with too many awards, honours and recognition of excellence which are, in fact, too numerous to list. As at my last count, apart from those she rejected, I have counted well over 300 received since she became a public officer in 2003 to date.
Almighty Allah enjoins as follows in the Glorious Qur’an, chapter 3, verse 26: “Say, ‘O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.’”
This verse further confirms to me that it is only Allah that can honour us, we creatures of the Supreme Being. Irrespective of the level of effort we as human beings may make in any enterprise, the Creator must sanction such thoughts and actions must earn the divine approval to result in successful implementation.
So, as a measure of Allah’s grace, another national letter of honour came to the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, dated October 7, 2022 and signed by Sen. George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, bearing the following good news: “I have the honour to formally inform you that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR has approved the conferment of the National Honour on you in the rank of OON (Officer of the Order of the Niger).” Interestingly, the award ceremony will hold on October 11, 2022 which by a remarkable coincidence falls on her Diamond birthday. You would agree with me that this is divine happenstance underscoring divine blessings.
Of all of the awards she has been honoured with over the years, undoubtedly, this latest one, OON, inspires a high sense of fulfillment and elation that comes to one when one’s Nation honours a person. This is what Hon. Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa must have felt when she got the surprise nomination letter on October 8, 2022. Of all the awards, honours and recognitions since she has received from 2003 till date, none has changed her status and her nomenclature more profoundly than this latest one; hence, its uniqueness.
From Tuesday, October 11, 2022 henceforth, she will be known and addressed as Hon. (Dr.) Kafayat Abike Dabiri-Erewa OON. Nigerians both home and in the Diaspora should take note.
An admirer of Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said this of the harvest of awards and honours: “It is indeed an honour well-deserved. She has come a long way. She has paid her dues. She has breasted the inclement weather of the media profession, especially in this clime. I still remember her days with NTA. Confident reporter. She made reporting look easy. Congratulations sister. Barakalah fihi.”
Even more remarkably, in his congratulatory message, President Muhammadu Buhari believes Dabiri-Erewa’s sincerity of purpose, meticulous handling of sensitive issues, and capacity to share her vision and carry others along easily pedestal her for leadership positions, extolling her skillful handling of the Diaspora family and building a mutually beneficial relationship with the government and citizens at home.
To this and other elevated commendations and prayers from numerous well-wishers, I join my felicitations to Hon. (Dr.) Abike Dabiri-Erewa on her 60th birthday and the conferment of National Honour, and pray that she be honoured with more laurels in her future endeavours.
These well-wishes are a testimony to the fact that being passionate about what you do and believe in will surely produce something out of nothing, whatever the obstacles may be. For the indefatigable Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa OON, she is a firm believer that there is no alternative to hard work. Confronted with several challenges, she has managed to rise above them all to put the Nigerian Diaspora on the global map. Her mantra of diligence, focus, tenacity and resilience has set her as a model for others to follow. Her energy, relentlessness and doggedness have placed her in good stead for efficient service delivery to Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Allah asks this rhetorical question in the Qur’an, chapter 55, verse 60: ” _Is there any reward for good, other than good?_ May Almighty Allah continue to increase our Hon. (Dr.) Kafayat Oloruntoyin Abike Dabiri-Erewa OON, in blessings, elongate her life to witness another 60 years on the surface of the earth in good health and tranquility and grant her secret heart desires. May Almighty Allah bless her entire family, beyond their imagination. Aameen. Happy Diamond Birthday, Ma, and congratulations on your distinguished National Award.
Abdur-Rahman Balogun is the Head of Media, Public Relations and Protocols of NIDCOM, Abuja.