• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Nigerian Diaspora, remittances and contributions to national development



This paper in general outlook, puts to rest and brings to clarity the undisputed link between the Nigerian Diaspora and the contending issue of development. It also X-rays the role of the Diaspora community in National Development and the contribution of the New Nigeria to a more inclusive Diaspora involvement in the national polity. In this paper also, we take a closer look at Nigeria Diaspora in specific, their political cum economic value to the country Nigeria, the volume and value of remittance flows into the local country as well as highlights the potential importance to the Nigerian economy and their place of relevance in the New Nigeria Ideology. The paper concludes with a huge plan from a more defined New Nigeria toward the Nigerian Diasporan Community.

Nigeria Diaspora

The formation of the Nigerian Diaspora has been identified to the evolution of a globalised and racialised capitalism. Slavery, colonial labour policies, post-colonial conflict, including the Nigerian Civil war of 1967-1970 and the economic hardship occasioned by structural adjustment programmes (SAP) and neo-liberalism have all diffusely propelled Nigerians into the ever growing Diaspora.

In a world in which identity politics and recourse to ethnicity are regularly invoked, Diaspora as a term is seriously contested. Around the world, many different ethnicities, nationalities, races and religions claim Diaspora identity for themselves, while scholars who study them, often use the term without much analytical precision. What this bears witness to is that, defining Diaspora and deciding who gets to be regarded as belonging to a Diaspora community can be a little problematic.

The Nigeria Diaspora is one of the largest African immigration population in the world, but it’s actual size is very difficult to determine.

Etymologically, the word Diaspora is an off shoot of a Greek word “darespara”, and means a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locales. Historically, the word Diaspora was used to refer to the mass dispersion of a population from it’s indigenous territories, specifically the dispersion of the Jews.

Contextually, the Nigeria Diaspora in this sense refers to Nigerians living outside Nigeria.

The new Nigeria, why the Diaspora

The Nigerian Diaspora was borne out of the recognition of the huge capital and human resources of the Diaspora and the need to tap into that vast reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experiences for national development. The new initiatives by successive civilian government towards engaging the Nigerian Diaspora included interactive meetings, dialogues, conferences, and through the creation of organizations such as the Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) and Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS) as platforms for Diaspora engagement and the adoption of July 25 as Diaspora Day every year. Such appropriative effort has not yielded enough fruits as the Nigerian state would have wanted. This, in part, is due to the characteristic of Diaspora and diasporic identities in their highly hybridized and ever multidirectional character, rendering the impossibility of entire cooption by the national government and its agencies. When compared with the experiences of some of the countries examined, it becomes evident that Nigeria needs an ideology to create more platforms for the engagement of the Nigerian Diaspora and also improve its engagement with the Diaspora by building partnerships and harnessing its resources for national gains. In this vein, The New Nigeria looks forward to creating an institutional framework that will effectively engage the Nigerian Diaspora, so that the huge potentials therein can be harnessed for national development

Nigerian Diaspora, remittances and contributions to national development

According to the IMF, remittances represent household income from foreign economies arising mainly from the temporary or permanent movement of people to those economies. Remittances include cash and noncash items that flow through formal channels such as electronic wire, or through informal channels, such as money or goods carried across borders. The importance of remittances is in the role they play in economies. They help poorer recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses, service debt and essentially, drive economic growth. Empirical studies show that the primary benefits of remittances to recipient households is the improvement in their general welfare. According to analysts, 70% of remittances are used for consumption purposes, while 30% of remittance funds go to investment related issues. Egypt and Nigeria account for the largest inflows of remittances into Africa in 2018. In 2017 Nigeria led the Continent in terms of remittance receipts but dropped to second place behind Egypt in 2018. There are two main reasons behind this growth. First, global economic growth, especially in high-income countries. The World Bank Migration and Development brief attributes the rebound experienced in the global remittance industry to economic growth in Europe, the Russian Federation and the United States. Second, there was a rise in oil prices, which boosted economic activities in oil-producing countries worldwide.

Since many transactions are unrecorded or take place through informal channels, the actual amount of remittance flows into the country is arguably higher. In 2018, migrant remittances to Nigeria equaled US$25 billion, representing 6.1% of GDP. This also represents 14% year-on-year growth from the $22 billion receipt in 2017.The 2018 figure translates to 83% of the Federal Government budget in 2018 and 11 times the FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) flows in the same period. Nigeria’s remittance inflows was also 7 times larger than the net official development assistance (foreign aid) received in 2017 (US$3.4 billion.)

It is evident that remittances can have a strong impact on development, both at the macro and micro- levels, especially as it has a multiplier effect on consumption, investment and economic growth. In order to ensure that remittances are being utilized in ways that are beneficial to the economy, below are what The New Nigeria shall work hard to implement:

A. Creation of platforms that increase accessibility of crucial information for Nigerians in the Diaspora. The Nigerian Diaspora constitutes mainly semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled professionals. They are in need of credible opportunities of investment with assured returns on their savings and earnings. A platform where information on opportunities can be shared will help to reduce information asymmetry when it comes to investment opportunities. Also, it is strategically important for state governments to also adopt these platforms to drive and attract remittance flows from migrant indigenes towards consumption, investment and development by their respective sub-nationals.

B. Encouraging and creating pooled investment vehicles. One of the major barriers to investing for those in the Diaspora is the minimum amount of funds, which investing firms accept. Therefore, pooled investment vehicles where members of Diaspora can be vetted and can aggregate funds for private equity investment, for example, would encourage greater investments.

C. Early-stage businesses with smaller financing needs, present another great opportunity for those in the Diaspora to invest through angel networks. Facilitating these investment options in small-scale and medium-scale enterprises, joint ventures and micro-credits become pragmatic and viable opportunities for the Diaspora. Such efforts will also encourage employment generating activities, reduce further emigration and save workers from exploitative conditions abroad by providing them alternative livelihood options in their own country.

D. Cost of remittances and technology: The global average cost of sending $200 was 7.1% in the first quarter of 2018, more than twice as high as the Sustainable Development Goal 10 target of reducing the transaction costs of migrant remittances to less than 3%. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive place to send money to, where the average cost is 9.4% (about 25% higher there than in the rest of world). However, these costs have been decreasing over the last 10 years, partly because of the rise of mobile money technology. Today, mobile money transfers are two times less expensive than money transfer operators and post offices, and almost three times less costly than transfers through commercial banks. As mobile money technology continues to expand, and its coverage and usage continue to increase across Sub-Saharan Africa, it is expected to contribute to an increase in remittance flows. Several countries across the globe, including Nigeria, have developed plans towards attracting investment from their Diaspora community for national development. Essentially, the extent to which the Diaspora contributes to the developmental affairs of a country will be determined largely by trust. Sub-national governments (states) across most of these countries are also tapping into the immense opportunities in the Diaspora space. In summary, what is required is a coherent policy framework to harness remittances into generating capital for productive investments for the growth and development of small and micro-enterprises, which will in turn, create employment. In addition, remittances can be deployed toward philanthropic activities which can serve as solutions for specific deficiencies in the local infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads.

E. Diaspora forms the Nexus of our corporate existence, conversely through bilateral relationship; the New Nigeria supports the need of a bill that will give Nigerians abroad the opportunity to vote in our different Nigerian Embassies during the country’s election without unnecessary travel to the country. This gesture will practically set a new record in our history to give Diasporas an opportunity to decide who serves them. It will also mean, giving priority attention to Nigerians in Diaspora and their well being as well as political and economic participation. This cry for voting opportunity for our brothers and sisters abroad in their respective places of residence is long overdue. This opportunity will spark a national reaction that will give Nigerians both home and abroad a deep sense of belonging, thereby selling a new ideology to the world through a more concise and people inclusive strategic blue print heralded by a truly New Nigeria.

F. The New Nigeria, shall Create a data Bank of all Nigerians abroad, to know their needs and assessment, use this information to genuinely address issues of negligence, poverty, health and well being of Nigerians. To achieve this, a formation of regional, district or country coordinators will be most appropriate, beginning from all African Countries.

Obviously, the New Nigeria Project, amongst many other relevant indices, is poised to bring about a new ideological mindset that promotes the unity of Nigeria especially given its diverse forms, it is a project that aims at rebranding our Security architecture, our economic stability, our Agricultural heritage, our technology, our artificial intelligence, police reforms, electoral reforms, the Judiciary and the sort. This can only be achieved, through a robust consultative approach by bringing all relevant stakeholders on board both those within the country and our country men and women abroad.

The Diaspora community over the years, has shown remarkable interest in the affairs of Nigeria, and are ready to muscle themselves towards supporting their country to grow in order to bring about developmental change, driven by a true sense of patriotism, where we shall all shun cultural relativism, tribal, religious and political sentiments.

This will in turn engender full participation of all stakeholders involve and build in all, an intrinsic consciousness of building a truly New Nigeria.

Wayas Jr. is the Diaspora Director- The New Nigeria