Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has said the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (an economic and political union involving 28 European countries, which allows free trade, movement, between member countries without any checks or extra charges) is an opportunity for Nigeria to harness human capital for her development.
Brexit was the result of a referendum held in June 2016, when 17.4 million British subjects opted to leave the Union. This gave the Leave side 52%, compared with 48% who voted to Remain.
NIDCOM’s position was part of the communique reached at the end of the inaugural Summit of State Focal Point Officers on Diaspora Affairs with the theme “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development.”
The summit resolved that “Brexit presents a very massive opportunity to harness our massive human capital investment in the United Kingdom. Nigeria must key into this by sending trade delegations to Britain to bring her investments in human capital home.”
The summit was put together by NIDCOM in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the European Union as well as other significant stakeholders.
NIDCOM Chair/CEO Abike Dabiri-Erewa at the opening of the summit said that the summit was to recognise the state diaspora focal point officers to synergise with NIDCOM in order to increase Diasporan interest and engagement for sustainable development.
She had also urged all states in the country to toe the line of the Federal Government which is working on a central database for Nigerians in the Diaspora to interface with Nigerians abroad.
The NIDCOM chair also tasked the State Diaspora Focal Point officers to ensure that they deliver on their mandates, saying “if Nigeria is to succeed in harnessing her rich, vital and critical resources of the Diaspora for nation-building, the states are the engine room.”
According to her, “it is also right to say that the states are the major stakeholders in terms of execution and benefits.”
In a keynote address, Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu highlighted the various interventions of Abians in the Diaspora in the critical areas of trade, health, capacity building and education.
He said the early recognition of the benefits of collaborating with Abia indigenes in the Diaspora had resulted in the training of 3,000 primary school teachers leading to improved education, quality health service delivery, 3,000 youths trained in skills of their choices among others.
The summit also resolved that “NIDCOM should think of a Diaspora village where we can have medical missions agenda, amongst other things.”
The Inaugural summit was attended by 14 State Focal Point officers from all over the country. Others were stakeholders, civil society organisations, the private sector and the media.