By ‘Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President.
VP adds: FG’s Diaspora Commission established to further harness Diaspora contribution to economic growth
Nigerians in the Diaspora can contribute more to the growth of the nation’s economy and other sectors through the sharing of ideas and investment opportunities with relevant agencies of government, according to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Speaking during a meeting on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a delegation from the Nigeria Diaspora Group for Good Governance led by Dr. James Fadel, Prof. Osinbajo further stated that harnessing the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora was a major reason why the Buhari administration established the Diaspora Commission.
According to him, the establishment of the Diaspora Commission is an important milestone for government where all the activities of Nigerians in the Diaspora could be well coordinated for national development.
The Vice President added that the Federal Government, through the Diaspora Commission, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports alongside other relevant MDAs, will create platforms similar to Focus Labs, to further engage Diaspora investors and experts on very specific initiatives so as to take the ideas from the Diaspora to the next level.
The Focus Labs, organised by the Budget & National Planning Ministry, provided an avenue where investors and government agencies held detailed meetings over a few weeks to sort out issues mitigating effective investments.
According to the VP, such initiatives would help take some of the many ideas from the Diaspora community forward, noting that both the government and the people from the Diaspora have to move the ideas forward towards implementation.
He said, “I think one thing we have to do with the Diaspora Commission is to bring up these investors and the relevant agencies of government into the same room to share ideas. Some of these investors may be having difficulties in getting funds.
“What we need to do is to set up a structure to enable us meet with these investors so that we can take it step by step on how this (Diaspora) group can contribute more to the development of the country.”
Continuing, the Vice President said the Federal Government has achieved significant milestones through its Social Investment Programmes, including the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme where almost 10 million school children are being fed a free, nutritious meal daily, and the N-Power Job scheme which has engaged over 500,000 young Nigerians nationwide.
In the agriculture sector and agricultural value chain, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the growth of local rice production, noting that the country needs to consolidate on its gains in the agriculture sector for further development.
Speaking on technical education, the VP said the N-Power programme of the federal government is embraced by every state of the federation and what is needed now is the coordination of the activities in the states.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, James Fadel, said, “The Vice President has captured the admiration of Nigerians at home and abroad and we have come here to support you with the best, according to our capabilities as Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
Fadel added that the Diaspora group aims to invest in areas such as infrastructure, primary healthcare, skill acquisition in various sectors, so as to contribute to improving the living standard of Nigerians.
Also at the meeting were the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, and Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, who represented the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Bassi expressed delight that Nigerians in the Diaspora are willing to make various contributions in the areas of education, primary healthcare, etc, adding that the Commission is linking up with other groups and aims to provide vocational training for Nigerians nationwide.
Also, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, highlighted the needs for skills training for Nigerian youths.