President Muhammadu Buhari has applauded Nigerians in the Diaspora for their donations of items to the grassroots as their Covid-19 support.
The President who spoke In a video message to commemorate this year’s Diaspora Day, observed on July 25 with the theme ,Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a COVID-19 Era”, appealed to his compatriots, whose home remittances exceeded $25 billion annually in three years, not to abandon their fatherland in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
”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 assured Nigerians in Diaspora from all over the world, that his three-point agenda for the Nigerians in Diaspora remains the same and particularly relevant on the auspicious occasion.
”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 spoke on the significance of the Diaspora day celebration.
According to him, “the Day is also to facilitate networking among the Diaspora with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the Government, the Diaspora State Focal Point Officers and other private and Civil Society Organization participants in the implementation of a practical framework for the effective engagement of the Diaspora for national development.”
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.
“The activities we have executed, those ongoing, and the ones that are yet to take off are all definitive, of the theme. Our interaction today is expected to mobilize you to key into some of the programmes and chart improved or better ways on how to achieve them,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa also recanted all the interventions of the commission which have brought succour to Nigerians in different countries at different times. She cited NIDCOM’s role in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and other instances.
On the stereotype and stigmatizing of Nigerians in other countries the Chairman said, “Show me one Nigerian committing a crime and I will show you ten thousand doing great things, I want to seize the opportunity to commend Mr. Ikenna Nweke, the Nigerian in Japan who recently returned huge sums of money he found. We appreciate Ikenna who is presently here with us at this conference”.
On Diaspora voting, Dabiri-Erewa announced that the Commission was working with the National Assembly to make it a reality.
Among other initiatives, she said NiDCOM is partnering with the OPS WASH – the umbrella body for private engagement to support the declaration to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2024.
“We plan to mobilize millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to fund a toilet per household. A global project will soon be launched and we look forward to all Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in this most needed project,” she said.
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.
The Minister thanked members of the Diaspora who have donated to the COVID-19 response, especially those that were channeled to the grassroots through the states.
The event which was celebrated online had participants from several countries.