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Column / Opinion

Leveraging diaspora resources for Nigeria’s development




By Aliyu Othman

Nigerians living and earning their living in foreign lands have over the years contributed significantly to the economic growth of their country.

Their remittances back home over the years run into trillions of dollars.

As a result of the significant contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora, the government thought it wise to establish a commission that will interface with this group of people for the socio-economic development of the country. This formed the basis for the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.

Last week, the maiden Diaspora conference was held with President Muhammadu Buhari calling on Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in the post COVID-19 National Economic Recovery Plan.

The Nigerian President wants them to participate in the implementation strategy of the recovery plans considering their contributions to Nigeria in the areas of healthcare delivery, education, culture, sports, housing, investments, transfer of technology and socio-economic development of the nation.

Records show that the impact of Nigerians in their host countries is quite commendable and their contributions to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the years amount to over 6.0 percent.

Today, Nigeria could actually pride itself as the leading beneficiary of migrants’ remittances generally referred to as Diaspora remittances which account for about thirty percents of remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Other African countries that attract impressive remittances from their citizens abroad include Egypt, South Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda amongst others.

In 2019,Nigeria secured over seventeen billion dollars from Diaspora remittances, a little below what was transferred previous years that range from twenty-seven billion dollars to thirty billion dollars. There are projections that by 2023, the remittances will exceed 30 billion dollars.

The Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission had in various ways justified its existence with timely interventions that guarantee the confidence of the citizens in their country of origin and their desire to contribute more to its growth and development as exhibited during the Diaspora day conference last week.

The Commission in the discharge of its mandate, championed the repatriation of over sixteen thousand stranded Nigerians from over twenty countries during the global lockdown as a result of COVID-19.

The role played by Nigerians in the Diaspora Organizations (NIDO) worldwide in mobilizing stranded Nigerians abroad by providing the needed resources for their care in the isolation centers as they returned home is highly commendable.

Nigerians in Diaspora contributed in no small way in the fight against coronavirus pandemic by donating some equipment and testing kits to fight the disease in Nigeria.

The 2020 Nigeria Diaspora Day celebration with the theme: Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Development in post Covid-19 era, provided the window required for the over 17 million Nigerians abroad to key into President Buhari’s plans for Nigeria in post COVID-19 era.

Nigeria, as the world’s fifth largest receiver of remittances before the COVID-19 pandemic after India, China, Mexico and Philippines has more to gain in mobilizing her citizens to play a significant role in remaining atop of the ladder in Africa by utilizing the remittances for the purposes intended to promote rapid development across the country.

The conference attracted Nigerians from around the world that offered various options for Nigeria, especially on accountability and transparency in the utilization of resources to secure and make the remittances transfer more cost effective.

Nigerians in Diaspora were acknowledged as partners in the development plans of the nation to ensure that Nigeria move forward despite COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the key demands of Nigerians in the Diaspora is that voting right be extended to them. The request is being handled by the Diaspora Commission with assurances that they will table it before the National Assembly to be considered in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution before the 2023 general election in Nigeria.

Nigeria is known to have a huge repository of professionals across the globe who have distinguished themselves in all fields of human endeavours.

The Diaspora commission must take pragmatic steps to harmonize the human and material resources of its citizens outside the country by reaching out to Nigerian communities abroad through their various groups, organization and professional bodies for the accelerated development of Nigeria.

It is also expected that Nigeria would use the window provided by the Nigeria Diaspora Day conference to collaborate and network in addressing the challenges of human trafficking and improving Nigeria’s image globally.