NIGERIA’S has now become heavily dependent on the diaspora to solved its chronic foreign exchange shortage in the wake of the current economic crisis with the federal government expecting at least $26bn to be remitted by the end of this year.
Being a mono-economy heavily dependent on the proceeds of crude oil exports to survive, Nigeria has been hard hit by the coronavirus-induced global economic slowdown. Both demand and prices have fallen below budgetary projections and the government has had to resort to borrowing to fund the 2020 budget.
With there being no hope whatsoever of the government achieving its goal of selling 2.1m barrels of crude oil at a price of $57 a barrel as projected when the 2020 budget was passed, diaspora remittances are now key to avoid a foreign exchange scarcity. Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the chair of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, has called on diasporans to be part of its programmes and policies by investing at home for national development.
Speaking during a symposium organised by the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DCTA) in Abuja yesterday, she put the remittances from Nigerian diasporans at $26bn and expressed optimism that the figures would also rise. At the event, Hon Dabiri-Erewa also confirmed that three Nigerian singers held by the government of Uganda for alleged contravention of Covid-19 guidelines would soon be released from detention.
Hon Dabiri-Erewa said: “We are not even saying, come back. We are saying that Nigerians in the diaspora should be part of the programmes and policies of government, which is why we have the Diaspora Investment Summit, Diaspora Investment Trust Fund and many others.
“They are showing more interest in investing back home, so we need to focus on that and we are doing that already. We are strategically communicating, we are strategically dealing with the diaspora which we were never doing coronabefore. In terms of remittances, $26bn was what was remitted, so we have to wait for the next one.
“Going abroad is not a bad thing as you find yourself abroad, you get skills and capacity. Wherever you are, you should be part of the programmes and policies of the government. We are circulating the brain and the response has been very good from Nigerians abroad who have the passion and interest in the country.”
Adamu Yahaya Mahmud, the acting director-general of the DTCA, said over the years, the agency had been engaged in programmes involved in the use of African experts in tackling developmental challenges all over the continent. Nigeria’s diaspora has always been the largest sender of remittances in Africa and is among the top six in the world.