By Williams Anuku, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed excitement over revenue inflow from the Diaspora community, which has exceeded $25 billion, in the last three years.
The President said the outbreak of COVID-19 should not deter Nigerians in the Diaspora from contributing more to the nation’s development, especially the Post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.
He bared his mind in a video message to commemorate this year’s Diaspora Day, observed on July 25 of every year.
”Over the past three years, Nigerians in the diaspora 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 annual GDP and upwards of 80% of our annual budget. This has impacted on livelihoods of Nigerians in terms of education, health, housing and estate development, industry, trade and investments, agriculture and technology/skills transfer.
”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).
”Nigerians in 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 under stress in the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerians in the Diaspora will rise up to the occasion of not abandoning their country of origin, but be active in our Post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts,” he said.
President Buhari told participants from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania at the webinar event that his three-point agenda for Nigerians in Diaspora remains the same and particularly relevant on the auspicious occasion.
Reiterating the agenda, the Nigerian leader said:”You are our Ambassadors-at-large by your behaviour and character in your host countries.
”Whatever legitimate endeavour you choose, you must excel and be the best.
”Do not forget home, Nigeria, by giving back and engaging in its development.”
The President also used the occasion to commend the support and contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to the socio-economic development of Nigeria, recounting fond memories of his several interactions with them at town hall meetings.
Speaking on the theme of this year’s celebration,“Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a COVID-19 Era”, the Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the focus of the 2020 celebration is indicative of the mandate of NiDCOM as well as what the agency has accomplished since its creation.
“Since its establishment a year ago, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has a lot to celebrate. This is because the passion and consistency that saw to the establishment of the commission have been maintained and sustained.
In his remarks, the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada said the Ministry would continue to stress the importance of engaging with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the state, national and international levels in advocating the Diaspora potentials in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.