Professor Bola Akinterinwa, former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), declared that the ‘corrupt way’ of governing of Nigeria makes patriotism very difficult, thereby affecting the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to nation building.
15 million Nigerians in the Diaspora have remitted about $25 billion back home in the last three years are being called upon to use their skills and funds for the betterment of their nation.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) while commemorating this year’s Diaspora Day, observed every July 25, said: “Over the past three years, Nigerians in the Diaspora have brought in over $25b yearly as home remittances to the Nigerian economy through official and non-formal channels. This is about 6.0 per cent of our annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and upwards of 80 per cent of our annual budget.
He further stated that these funds impacted positively on livelihood of Nigerians in terms of education, health, housing and estate development, industry, trade and investments, agriculture and technology/skills transfer.
The President affirmed that Nigeria is rated number one in sub-Saharan Africa in term of remittances bolstered by the advocacy and mobilisation programmes of the newly established Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).
The President’s disclosure on the yearly remittances by Nigerians in the Diaspora was based on the 2019 figures announced by the World Bank.
PMB acknowledged areas Diaspora Nigerians are actively engaged to include “skill transfer in ICT and industry, as well as lecturing in Nigerian universities and undertaking medical missions, among others.
Majority of the Nigerians living abroad are qualified professionals, plying their trades in Europe, the Americas, Africa and other parts of the world.
Some of them have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavour, as they occupy top positions in big corporations all over the world.
Prof. Akinteriwa’s analysis theorises that political governance in Nigeria condones corruption, seen through preaching of anti-corruption at top level of government while government agents swim in pools of corruption, giving the impression that the anti-corruption fight is only for the ordinary people.
He said: “The most recent, and in fact, the politics of the on-going probe into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) explains it all. Nigerians in the Diaspora cannot but be frightened in committing more resources to the growth and development of Nigeria with this type of development and fantastic corruption. In other words, it is a situation of “enough is enough’” or “so far so good.” There is no need to do more”.
“… But, there is no limitation to development aspirations, both at the inter-personal or inter-governmental levels. As developed as India, China, United States and France, among others, are, they are all still seeking financial resources for more development projects. They are permanently engaged in new researches…
Prof Akinteriwa submitted that Nigerians in the Diaspora have not done enough because they have not been enabled to do enough, for no fault of theirs.
He argued that they have been incapacitated by the inclement political environment of Nigeria.
He said: “Nigeria cannot be rightly said to be developing. It is more of under-developing than developing. Consequently, Nigerians in the Diaspora will still need to do more…
Meanwhile, Kafayat Abike Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa, the chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NiDCom) advised that these challenges should not deter Nigerians in the Diaspora from coming forward to invest and join in the efforts to develop the country, as there can never be a perfect situation.
She said: “If we are waiting for Eldorado, nothing will be achieved. What I usually ask Diaspora Nigerians that put forward this line of argument is: How come many people, foreigners are investing in Nigeria? What do they see that you are not seeing? I don’t think it is the challenges really. So, the first thing we do is to encourage them. We are not saying they should pack their bags and return home, but wherever they are, they can be part of the country’s development and growth.
With NiDCOM serving as a mediator between the Nigerian Government and Nigerians in the Diaspora, she explained that the organisation is putting in place measures that will yield the desired result.