Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, says Nigerians in the diaspora contribute as high as six percent of the nation’s GDP, the very least they deserve, is not to be disenfranchised from being able to influence the leaders that govern the country.
Speaking in Los Angeles, California, the politician observed that patriotism, like respect, cannot be imposed but earned through dedication, responsiveness, active engagement, orientation, and prioritising of Nigerians in Diaspora. “The ripple effect will be rapid and will rub off positively on the country’s economy,” he says.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Ms. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has commended Nigerians in the Diaspora on the rise of remittances in the first quarter of the year, by 20.3 per cent, representing the seventh consecutive quarterly increase in diaspora remittances since last quarter in 2020.
In a statement by the Commission’s Head of Media and Public Relations, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Dabiri-Erewa said that increase in remittances by Nigerians abroad which has played a significant role in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has a great impact on socio-economic growth of the country.
Dabiri-Erewa implored all stakeholders to continue engagement for Diaspora Voting with the National Assembly to amend relevant sections of the law to enable INEC to do the needful.
Quoting the World Bank estimates, Obi put global pre-pandemic Diaspora remittances at a record-high of $719 billion in 2019; including $548 billion to low- and middle-income countries.
According to the former Anambra State governor, with $20 billion in remittances in 2021, Nigeria ranks 6th behind the top five recipient countries – India ($89b), Mexico ($54b), China ($53b), the Philippines ($37b), Egypt ($32b) and Bangladesh ($22.07 billion).
“In that context, Diaspora communities are increasingly part of the foreign relations architecture. They now serve as informal ambassadors and help with in advancing development in their home countries.
“While some countries see their Diaspora community as an asset; others see them as a loss, more so, in terms of Brain Drain.
According to him, World Bank estimates put global pre-pandemic Diaspora remittances at a record-high of $719 billion in 2019; including $548 billion to low- and middle-income countries.
“With $20 billion in remittances in 2021, Nigeria ranks 6th behind the top five recipient countries, namely; India with $89b; Mexico with $54b; China with $53b; the Philippines with $37b; Egypt with $32b and Bangladesh, with $22.07 billion.”
He adds that beyond the renowned role of sending foreign remittances back home, the Diaspora are increasingly critical in advancing technology and skill transfer, strengthening democracy, opening up global supply chains, trade and foreign direct investment, education and research as well as healthcare.
Said he: “Diaspora Remittances now outstrip foreign direct investment for most low and middle-income countries, Nigeria included. In most cases, such remittances now constitute three times the volume of Official Development Assistance (ODA) received.
“Nigerians in the diaspora constitute the first line of representation and the first line of defense. They have been flying the national flag high, in contributing their quota towards the development of the country across various sectors.
“Nigeria Diaspora remittances now augment and support education, promote entrepreneurship and stimulate businesses, and investments in healthcare in addition to foreign remittances.
“It is noteworthy and commendable that Diaspora remittances to Nigeria have surpassed oil revenue for some years now, hovering between 3.8 to 6.1 percent of the country’s GDP. The impact is equally huge.
“The diaspora community can be effectively mobilized as true assets for the rapid development of our country. The Nigerian diaspora can play a major role in helping Nigeria transform its education sector
“The diaspora community can help set up and administer endowment funds in the Nigerian Universities. Recently, Dr. Phillip Ozuah took a catalytic lead by donating $1m to University of Ibadan.
“Endowments can also be used to provide support for students to go on exchange programmes that add value to their skills and motivation. It can also be used to support Faculty research and research and development (R&D) in general.
“It is important that our the spiraling exodus of Nigerian medical practitioners abroad, should start yielding some dividends back home through improved quality of healthcare delivery, infrastructure and personnel, arising from skill transfer.”
Obi cited the example of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who he described as one of Nigeria’s best brand Ambassadors, noting that beyond her excellence in telling stories that promote Nigeria in irresistible fashion, she has proudly and constantly promoted Made-in-Nigeria fabrics and outfits through her social media channels.
He suggested that a diaspora bond could be an innovative option for raising finance for an extremely stressed economy like Nigeria’s. “Bonds can also help reduce reckless government borrowings, while making business sense for the investing diaspora.”
On her part, Dabiri-Erewa said, “As the world recovers from the global pandemic and confronts instability of many kinds, we want to honour the efforts of all those who continue to support their loved ones despite the challenging circumstances.”
According to the NIDCOM boss, the recent figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed an increase in remittances in quarter one of 2022 to $5.16 billion from $ 4.29 billion same period in 2021.
Also, the ‘Naira 4 Dollar Scheme’ created by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2021, attracted $2.4 billion in diaspora remittances within eight months, surpassing the figure reported in 2021.
She said “NiDCOM will continue to push for more engagement with our diaspora who are an indisputable economic factor and are becoming an investment factor in the country, noting that many Nigerians abroad are investing in agriculture, real estate, health, education and ICT, amongst others.
She assured Nigerians abroad that details of Nigerians Diaspora Investment Trust Fund (NDITF) will soon be unveiled as a platform for structured diaspora investments, just as Diaspora mortgage and housing facilities are some of the programmes being introduced by NIDCOM for the welfare of the citizens abroad.
Similarly, 33 states now have State Diaspora Focal Point Officers with Abia setting up Abia Diaspora Agency, while Edo and Enugu are almost set with their own agencies just as Ondo and Anambra states have Commissioners.
She also described the Diasporans as a valuable asset worth more than the billions of naira they sent home as remittances as they are contributing immensely to national development through training and capacity development.
Stressing that no nation can develop without its diaspora, she emphasized the need for Nigerians at home and in diaspora to work together.
It is expected that by the end of the 2022 financial year, the remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora from official sources would have increased from its current $22 billion to about $25 billion