President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the contribution of 17 million Nigerians in the Diaspora to national development, stressing that they have been instrumental to the growing importance of Nigeria all over the world.
The President said this on Monday at the 16th Edition of the Nigerian National Diaspora Day celebration 2022, and 4th to be hosted by the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) with the theme: “Diaspora Engagement in Global Challenging Times for National Development.”
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the President acknowledged the contribution of the Diaspora including direct remittances worth $20 billion in 2021, to the country’s economic development.
He stressed that this year’s theme was apt for the celebration, “considering our experiences with COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Russian Ukrainian war and the insecurity we were experiencing, not only in Nigeria, but across the globe.”
The President reiterated that his administration has held and will continue to hold Nigerian citizens in the Diaspora in the highest esteem.
He said: “This is evident in the following: the passage of the Nigerians in diaspora commission establishment in 2017; the establishment and takeoff of the Nigerians in Diaspora commission in 2019; the approval and adoption of the National Diaspora Policy in 2021, the presentation of the compendium of the ‘plus 600 Diaspora icons at 60’ which remains a historic record of the work of our compatriots globally.He noted the willingness of his administration to support NIDCOM in fulfilling its mandate, holistically through consideration for the establishment of the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund as well as the intervention fund to support the activities of NiDCOM engagement with Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Buhari said his constant engagements through the Presidential town hall meetings which are held with Nigerians in the Diaspora during all his official trips outside Nigeria, was part of recognizing their important roles in national development.
He said it was gratifying to know that every July 25th, the achievement of these Diasporans, many of whom are the country’s goodwill ambassadors contributing immensely and excelling globally, uplifting the image of Nigeria as well as continuing to develop Nigeria, through their resources, talents, skills, and global exposure.
“These are very well appreciated by my administration, and Nigeria as a whole, as you collectively contribute to make us proud at home.“I understand in 2021, our Diaspora home remittances through official channels stands at $20 billion, which is about four times over the value of our foreign direct investment. In addition, many of our Diaspora compatriots are actively investing in our healthcare, agriculture, education, information, communication technology ICT, housing and real estate, transportation, oil and gas, other services and so on.
“This, I must say, is commendable. And in our enlightened collective self-interest, as only Nigerians at home and abroad can develop Nigeria. I’m personally proud.The President reiterated his commitment to free and credible elections in 2023. which he said will be exemplary in Africa and will serve as a reference point in the continent and hopefully stop the recourse to unconstitutional change in government in the sub region and other parts of the African continent.
Buhari said: “As you are all aware that the processes to our national elections in 2023 have continued to progress smoothly and consistent with the laws of our land and our Constitution.
“I have repeatedly assured of my personal commitment, as well as that of my administration, to ensuring that the processes continue to be transparent, to be credible, to be free and fair, leading to a smooth elections and transmission, transition to the next government.
“This is the only way we can deepen democracy in Nigeria, and set the right example for the rest of Africa and hopefully, stop the recourse to unconstitutional change in government in our sub region and other parts of the African continent.”Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Nigerians in the Diaspora are worthy of being celebrated because they are achievers and good ambassadors who are putting in their best in all they do.
She noted that in spite of the challenging times, Nigerians in Diaspora are participating in various investments that are leading to development in Nigeria.
“The realization of these success stories of the Diaspora is adduced to the existing platform of NiDCOM which has led some African countries visit Nigeria to learn how to associate and manage their Diaspora globally bearing in mind the huge potentials of the Diaspora and the impact of their remittances to the economy of their country,” she said.
She announced that the State Diaspora Focal Point Officers (SDFPO) in the states, have established the necessary network and constant liaising with NiDCOM through the summit held every year. “This has led to more investments in the states and participation of diaspora in projects in their states.”