By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Government on Tuesday said Nigerians in the Diaspora remitted about $25 billion into the nation’s coffers in 2019.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, stated this while briefing State House correspondent after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
She said that the Commission had started engaging the National Assembly to see to the possibility of Nigerians abroad participating in the country’s future elections.
She told journalists that she was at the State House to brief President Buhari on progresses so far made by the Commission since it was inaugurated in May 2019.
She appealed to governors of the states that had yet to intervene in the plights of their indigenes that had recently returned from troubled sojourn to come in with needed interventions, said her Commission had done a lot in giving succour to many Nigerians who had been stranded abroad.
On remitances by Nigerians in the Diaspora, she said besides the most common informal financial transactions going on within families and interpersonal, the larger transactions amounted to the tune of $25 billion, hoping it would get better in the coming year.
According to her, “For 2019, we are dealing with about $25 billion as remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora. We hoping it could get better. There are even areas that are not even captured. The foremost remittances are not even captured; the $500 to your brothers, to your sisters. Beyond remittances, there are a lot more than Nigerians in the Diaspora will do for their country. We hope it gets better, we hope that Nigerians in the Diaspora continue to help in resuscitating the Nigerian economy.
“We are putting a team in place to work out modalities for the Diaspora Trust Fund. We are in the process of planning it and engaging Nigerians in the Diaspora as to how it can be done. A few countries, like Ethiopia, have a Diaspora Investment Fund, Nigeria should not be an exception. We are working at it. We are hoping we can get everything set in the first quarter of next year.”
On the efforts to get Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in future elections, Dabiri-Erewa said “we’ll be engaging the National Assembly to look into the issue of Diaspora voting. Nigerians in the Diaspora believe they should be able to vote and remitting so much to the country, contributing so much to the economy, we believe they should be able to vote. So we hope we can work with the parliament to amend the relevant laws to make it possible for people in the Diaspora to vote”.
On the plans to give the Commission a sure footing to carry out its assigned tasks, she said “we are also looking at our engagements in the new year, I was able to brief on short term, medium-term and long term goals of the Diaspora Commission and the key thing is that Mr President has instructed; wherever Nigerians are, their welfare is paramount, so the Commission will always engage with Nigerians wherever they are and follow the President’s instruction to ensure that we do not take anyone for granted or neglect anyone.
“It’s tough and challenging, but I know the Commission is up to the task. As we move on into the new year, we have started the process of having a Diaspora database to know exactly the number of Nigerians in Diaspora, accurately. Hopefully, we’ll have a Diaspora Policy to be rectified by the Federal Executive Council and then we continue our engagements.
“We have Nigeria in Diaspora Investment Summit, which was very successful. We are planning the Nigerian Diaspora Trust Fund because Nigerians in the Diaspora want to invest in their country and they want to contribute so the Diaspora Investment Trust Fund will be coming up in the new year and a lot of other engagements and activities.
“As for the returnees from South Africa, as we said earlier, we have not abandoned and we’ll not abandon them. In January we’ll be meeting with them again and we are working with SMEDAN and other agencies to see what more can be done for those returnees and we are appeal to states, I think about three states, that have not reached out to returnees to please do so. They are not many and I don’t think it’s a difficult thing to do. As we go into the new year, we’ll ensure we put Diaspora matters on the front burner”, she said.
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