Diaspora remittances hit $20b, says NIDCOM
Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora now stand at $20 billion despite the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja to announce the 16th edition of the National Diaspora Day Celebration, Dabiri-Erewa said the contribution of Nigerians in Diaspora to the economy was too significant for them to be left out in key decision-making processes in the country.
The hybrid event scheduled to hold on July 25 in Abuja has the theme, “Diaspora engagement in global challenging times for national development.”
Noting that about 17 million Nigerians live in the Diaspora, Dabiri-Erewa said this year’s theme was chosen to make the best use of the difficult times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia War and national insecurity among others, to leveraging on Nigerians in the Diaspora for national development and growth.
“The government, having recognised this, dedicated a special day to celebrate those in the Diaspora. It is a fact that the Nigerian Diaspora has the global exposure, resources, competencies and skills as well as the passion and linkages to being a catalyst for National Development.
“It is of a fact that in the United States alone, the Nigerians in the Diaspora Community have been judged the most intelligent and educated; in the United Kingdom, the smartest family is Nigerian.
“A former US President Mr. Barack Obama once remarked, “if you remove the Nigerian Physicians, the US health system will collapse “. It will interest you to note that there are over 5000 Nigerian physicians in the United States. That’s why we need to engage with them and celebrate them. They are our frontline ambassadors and best development partners.
“In 2021, in spite of the ravaging COVID-19 Pandemic, Nigeria topped the list of Diaspora Home Remittance Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with $20 billion. Our Diaspora therefore cannot be ignored when we consider our economic development.
“Indeed, their greatest contribution has been in human capital that even Foreigners are now coming to Nigeria for medicals,” she added.
The NIDCOM boss also appealed to the national assembly to review its stand on diaspora voting.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the issue of diaspora voting is a tough one, adding that Nigerians can’t afford to give up now.
Members of the National Assembly had overwhelmingly voted against the Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for Diaspora Voting, and for Related Matters.
Appealing to the legislators, the NIDCOM boss said: “We need the national assembly to make it possible for them to vote. We can’t be taking billions of dollars from them while we deny them the right to vote. Niger is doing that already.
“The argument is that we are yet to perfect the system locally but I think if we keep waiting for perfection, how can we move forward? INEC is ready.
“All the excuses they gave in rejecting the bill, there are answers for them. So we just have to keep engaging with the national assembly”.