President Muhammadu Buhari saturday declared that the $25 billion annual remittance by Nigerians in the diaspora was more than 80 per cent of the country’s annual budget and formed about six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Buhari disclosed this in a video message in commemoration of this year’s Diaspora Day, observed on July 25 every year.
The president said home remittances by Nigerians abroad had in the last three years exceeded $25 billion annually.
According to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari appealed to Nigerians in the diaspora to support the country’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery effort. He implored them not to abandon their country in this time of global challenge. He said the annual home remittance by citizens abroad had aided productivity in various sectors of the country, and pointed out that the remittances had been rated as the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.
The president said Nigerians in the diaspora should assist in rescuing the country from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement quoted Buhari as saying, “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 six per cent of our annual GDP and upwards of 80 per cent 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 mobilisation 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.”
Buhari was also said to have told participants from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania at the webinar event that his three-point agenda for Nigerians in the diaspora had not changed, as he proceeded to list the agenda:
“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.”
According to the statement, Chief Executive Officer of NiDCOM, Mrs.Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a COVID-19 Era,” said the focus of the 2020 celebration was a reflection of the mandate of NiDCOM and what the agency had achieved since its advent.
Dabiri-Erewa said, “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.
“The activities we have executed, those on-going, and the ones that are yet to take off are all definitive, of the theme. Our interaction today is expected to mobilise you to key into some of the programmes and chart improved or better ways on how to achieve them.”