Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians in the Diaspora not to abandon the country, but to be active in its post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.
The President gave the charge at the 2020 National Diaspora Day Celebration, organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), with the theme “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a COVID-19 era”.
Mr Buhari commended the enormous contributions of Nigerians living abroad to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
He noted that over the past three years, Nigerians abroad have brought in over $25 billion annually as home remittances to the Nigerian economy through official and non-formal channels.
‘This is about 6.0% of our GDP and upwards of 80% of our annual budget. This has impacted on the livelihoods of Nigerians in terms of education, health, housing and estate development, industry, trade and investments, agriculture and technology/skills transfer,’ the President noted.
‘In terms of diaspora home remittances, Nigeria is rated as number one in sub-saharan Africa and this is still growing especially with the advocacy and mobilization programmes of the newly established Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
‘The Nigerian Diaspora are also known to be engaged in skill transfer in ICT and industry. They are also active in our Universities as lecturers and in carrying out Medical missions.
‘It is therefore my sincere hope that even with the depressed economy of the 2020 due to the corona virus pandemic, Nigerians in the Diaspora will rise up to the occasion of not abandoning their country of origin, Nigeria, but be active in our Post COVID-19 economic recovery efforts,’ the President said.
Mr Buhari reiterated that his three point agenda for Nigerians in the Diaspora remains the same and it is relevant:
‘You are our ambassador-at-large by your actions, comportment and character in your host countries; In whatever endeavour you do, you must excel and be the best; and Do not forget home, “Nigeria” by giving back and engaging in its development,’ he said.
President Buhari that in his interactions with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the townhall meetings in various countries of the world, he has been impressed with their support and contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
In her remarks, NiDCOM Chairman Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the 15th Diaspora Day celebration is the second to be organised by the Commission.
She said the theme “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a covid-19 era” is not only appropriate, but summarises the entire mandate of NIDCOM and the activities it has executed, pointing to ongoing and future projects.
She said interactions via webinar is meant to mobilise Nigerians in abroad to key into some of the programmes of the Commission, and chart an improved or better ways on how to achieve them.
‘We hope that at the end of the day, we would have motivated the Nigerians in the Diaspora on deployment of Diaspora investments and entrepreneurship to assist with the post-COVID-19 recovery process, especially as 6diaspora home remittances which sustain livelihoods are impacted negatively by the pandemic. That Diaspora groups and individuals who are yet to join the train would have realized the need to be part of the opportunities that abound for economic investments or Charitable Missions in Nigeria.’