From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has urged Nigerians in diaspora not to leave the recovery of the economy to the federal government stressing that it cannot achieve it alone.
He said this in his keynote address at the opening of the 4th Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit 2021 orgainsied by Nigeria Diaspora Summit Initiative (NDIS) and Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), with the theme “Diaspora partnership and Linkages for post-Covid Economic Growth”.
Osinbajo said: “We need the partnership and deep involvement of the Diaspora and foreign investors, among others, investing in local businesses to boost and diversify the economy. It is this realization that has driven this Administration’s support for the NDIS as a clarion call to our Diaspora and their friends to come and invest in a land of boundless opportunities and possibilities like the Chinese, Indians, Lebanese, Israelis and South Africans are already and successfully doing here in Nigeria.
“Last year witnessed a number of Diaspora investors heeding that call and it is encouraging to note that even more have turned up this year. We assure you of our commitment to ensure that your investments are not only secure but that you get a good rate of return on the investments you make, while basking in the glow of being contributors to the growth of business and development of the nation.
“We remain steadfast in our goal of diversifying the economic resource base of the nation and so seek to activate and encourage multifarious investment options. The Nigerian Diaspora, who are not only familiar with the investment terrain, understand the risks and have personal interest and stake in the future of this country, but have also been acclaimed as one of the largest, brightest and most enigmatic Diaspora group in the world, are clearly a desired and desirable base to rely on and partner with in boosting our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for development.
“We look to your emotional and logical connections with this great land of ours with which you have chosen to maintain links and your clear recognition of the abundant economic possibilities inherent in investing in its growth and development. We invite you to continue to explore ways and means of leveraging activities such as the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit to not only expand your wealth but also develop a nation you wish to come back to”, he said.
In her remark, Minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment, Maryam Katagum, said the Buhari’s administration, recognizes that the economy was likely to be on a persistent and rapid downward trend unless definite, coordinate and necessary steps were taken to improve it.
“It was in this regard that small businesses were acknowledged as constituting the backbone of any growing economy, and that in order to eliminate poverty and unemployment in the country, small firms needed to be supported, including through channeling foreign direct investments to them. It was therefore in this context that the Administration has taken many steps since its inception to address the difficulties they face and ensure that investment is directed to these businesses in the country”, she said.
According to her, Nigerians in Diaspora represent an indomitable force. “They are flag bearers of Nigeria’s image, Nigeria’s entrepreneurial energy, Nigeria’s irrepressible spirit, Nigeria’s incredible can-do attitude. In business and in politics, in education and in sports, in entertainment and in science, in medicine and in arts, Nigerians have demonstrated across the world, what Nigerians genuinely represent.
Furthermore, with the contributions of the Diaspora into the country over the years and their recent interventions during the COVID-19 period ranging from the supplies of PPE’s, through training and retraining of COVID-19 experts in the countries, to educating the citizens on safety measures, they have demonstrated that they are inestimable assets that the government should partner with in spurring rapid economic growth, most especially in this post-COVID era.
“As we seek to grow and diversify the economy and attracting foreign investment into our economy, it is therefore apt that we tap into our Diaspora, particularly at this time when we are witnessing a skewed shift in foreign direct investment as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and certain inevitable problems that the Administration is working assiduously to overcome.”
The Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on her part commended the Nigerians in Diaspora for their enormous contributions to the development of the nation, most especially during the height of the COVID-19, for the steps they took to support communities and alleviate the sufferings caused by the eruption of the pandemic.
“Some of the responses which included, but not limited to, provision of food assistance, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), seminars on basic hygiene, training for health workers, educational programs for children during the lockdown, all played a key role in the government’s effort to tackle and reduce the COVID-19 caseload.
“if there is one single lesson to be learnt from this, it is the African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. It simply means that partnerships are essential for credible response with lasting effects. Therefore in the quest of the Federal Government to go far in repositioning the economy in this post COVID era, there is a need to partner with the Diaspora in achieving these goals. This is why the Summit with this year theme being Diaspora Partnership and Linkages for Post-COVID Economic Growth is very apt because it creates that avenue and platform of partnership between the Government and the Diaspora in attracting investment into local business and thus enhancing Foreign Direct Investment in the country.”
In her remark, the Summit Coordinator, Dr Badewa Adejugbe-Williams, said the summit was a private sector initiative of the non-profit voluntary sector Nigeria Diaspora Summit Initiative (NDSI), backed and enabled by the government through the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
She added that the Summit, which was inaugurated in the year 2018 and mandated to be held annually based on its potential, has over the years been pivotal in attracting foreign Diaspora investment into the country, particularly from the Diaspora.
According to her, businesses ranging from startups such as Binary Hillstech, an integrated startup ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs, to large associations like the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) have taken advantage of the summit’s networking opportunities to expand their businesses and activities.
She added that as a result of the new networks made and ideas exchanged during the Summit, several participants have been inspired to start their own business while some have based on the insights gathered from the summit tripled their investment in the country. These success stories really buttress the fact that the NDIS is one of the surest platforms for attracting Diaspora investment into local businesses in the country and also one of the vital catalysts that spurs new business startups in Nigeria.