Nigerians have asked the federal government to adopt several measures to harness diaspora assets in its efforts to turn the ‘japa’ or emigration wave into educational and economic benefits.
Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategies at Marklenez Limited, said in harnessing diaspora assets, the federal government should be strategic and learn from Israel, which has its citizens all over the world.
“The Jews are the most scattered race, they are in the US, the UK, and Russia, among others, and they are the backbone of Israel’s economy both in terms of fund repatriation and support for their home government,” he said.
He urged the government to be strategic in how it relates with Nigerians who have left the country in search of greener pastures.
“They should sensitise them and woo them on how they can use their acquired skills outside to come back home to invest especially in education. They can also create diaspora education trust funds,” he said.
According to Erhabor, wherever the Jews are, they are always in touch with their home country, repatriating their money home because there is an element of patriotism in them.
Hence, he advocated that the federal government should galvanise the interest of Nigerians in the diaspora, give them incentives, and encourage them to repatriate their monies home.
“There should be a diaspora education trust fund; if the education system is well developed, even Nigerians abroad would send their children home to school, and this will, in addition, boost the foreign exchange,” he said.
According to a Phillips Consulting report, 22 percent of Nigerians plan to migrate abroad within the next two to three years, while 26 percent are still determining their plans or have no intention of relocating abroad.
“The finance and insurance, professional services, and IT sectors are expected to be hit the hardest,” it said.
In 2022, Nigeria’s ICT and financial services sectors experienced the fastest growth, with Gross Domestic Product growth rates of 10.7 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively.
This means that the migration of skilled workers could significantly impact the performance of these sectors and the overall economy, according to the findings.
Tunji Adebiyi, a Nigerian based in the United States, urged the government to create an enabling environment and incentives, saying many nations send their citizens for overseas education and training.
“With good security and equality of opportunities, many will love to come back and help,” he said. “Ensure security, and encourage the diaspora community participation in polity and governance and promote those in the diaspora that are politically inclined like India in countries like the UK.”
He added: “Virtually every challenge in education and economy in Nigeria is in the US, for example, but the rule of law is followed massively.
“Without the proper enforcement of the laws, there will be no meaningful change and the diaspora community with the right intentions to build will still be holding back.”
Olayinka Bolarinwa, an independent analyst, said benefitting from the ‘japa’ wave requires a long-term commitment from the government, as well as collaboration between the public and private sectors.
“By fostering an environment that encourages educational and economic growth, as well as addressing the push factors for emigration, it is possible to harness the potential of the nation’s talent for the benefit of the country’s development,” he said.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s data on the amount spent on educational services under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange, Nigerians seeking admissions to foreign universities spent $340.84 million to fund their application between January and June 2023.
The apex bank said that in April, a total of $40.54 million was spent on foreign education, while $48.81 million was spent in May.
Bolarinwa said by fostering an environment that encourages educational and economic growth as well as addressing the push factors for emigration, it is possible to harness the potential of the nation’s talent for the benefit of the country’s development.