Nigeria provides one of the largest pool of migrants to other countries of the world, with the Nigerian diaspora estimated to be in the region of 5 to 15 million people spread across virtually every continent of the world.
Large swathes of Nigerians can be found in countries such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, United States of America among others, with London’s Peckham referred to as a mini-Lagos owing to the preponderance of immigrants from Lagos there.
The Nigerian Diaspora is also known for their excellence in all walks of life in different countries of the world. According to the 2010 census of the USA, Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group, with the highest percentage of University degree holders of all African immigrants having average household income of $94thousand.
The Nigerian Diaspora, which was described by Andrew Nevin, Chief Economist of Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), as “Nigeria’s biggest export”, in 2018 made remittances of $25billion, a sum that was about 83% of the Federal budget and about 8times the Official Development assistance to the country.
This massive export has also come at a cost to the country as the remittances figure fails to capture the productivity and tax contributions of these Nigerians to their host countries.
The Diaspora has been an economic block that Nigeria has never really harnessed in a formal way to develop the country, the way other countries’ citizens in Diaspora tend to retain a close affinity to their homelands.
Beyond unstructured remittances, there is a need to tap into this knowledge and resource pool to run our national institutions and drive investments into our country.
A situation where about 40% of trained medical doctors in Nigeria, where there is already an acute shortage of medical doctors, does not portend well for the country and calls for a paradigm shift in government priorities to arrest this drain.The National Assembly had in 2017 passed a Bill for a Diaspora Commission, which was promptly signed into law by then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The Commission would later see Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who described it as “a one stop agency for diaspora matters”, appointed as its Chairman, and has been working assiduously to connect Nigeria to a more formidable Diaspora.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari had floated the first ever Nigerian Diaspora bond, to give members of the Nigerian Diaspora opportunity to invest securely in their home country and it was subscribed fully at 300million Dollars.
As the president commences his second term, the Nigerian diaspora is a key constituency that must be explored and mined to create an even more prosperous Nigeria that created opportunities for all her citizens.
Rather than seeking so called “expatriates” for jobs that our countrymen are doing with great aplomb in other climes, the government of the day must seek out these ones and give them prominent roles to play in the emerging Nigeria within the fourth industrial revolution that is well underway.
Our Diaspora has shown time and again that Nigeria is more than an oil exporting country and there is no better time than now that we are trying to banish the wastefulness of the past, to use them to create opportunities for our massive population.
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