The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi has said the the role of Nigerians in Diaspora is beyond sending money back home. He said they are critical in skill transfer, technology advancement, strengthening democracy, opening up global supply chains, trade and foreign direct investment, education and research as well as healthcare.
Obi stated this while speaking on “The Role of the Nigerian Diaspora in Civic Leadership in Nigeria,” on Monday in California.
The former Anambra governor said that diaspora community can be effectively mobilized as true assets for the rapid development of our country.
He said, “Diaspora communities constitute an integral part and indeed, a critical mass of the development trajectory of their respective home countries. In that context, Diaspora communities are increasingly part of the foreign relations architecture.
“They now serve as informal ambassadors and help with in advancing development in their home countries.
“Beyond their renowned role of sending foreign remittances back home, the Diaspora are increasingly critical in advancing technology and skill transfer, strengthening democracy, opening up global supply chains, trade and foreign direct investment, education and research as well as healthcare.
“Diaspora Remittances now outstrip foreign direct investment for most low and middle-income countries, Nigeria included. In most cases, such remittances now constitute three times the volume of Official Development Assistance (ODA) received.
“Nigerians in the diaspora constitute the first line of representation and the first line of defense. They have been flying the national flag high, in contributing their quota towards the development of the country across various sectors.
“Nigeria Diaspora remittances now augment and support education, promote entrepreneurship and stimulate businesses, and investments in healthcare in addition to foreign remittances.
“The diaspora community can be effectively mobilized as true assets for the rapid development of our country. The Nigerian diaspora can play a major role in helping Nigeria transform its education sector.
“The diaspora community can help set up and administer endowment funds in the Nigerian Universities. Recently, Dr. Phillip Ozuah took a catalytic lead by donating $1m to University of Ibadan.
“Endowments can also be used to provide support for students to go on exchange programmes that add value to their skills and motivation. It can also be used to support Faculty research and research and development (R&D) in general.
“Opportunities also abound for proactive collaboration between the Diaspora community and the Federal and State governments in expanding healthcare delivery; improving the quality of our healthcare system as well as ensuring skill transfers to locally-based practitioners.
“Nigerians in the Diaspora when effectively engaged can act as important ‘trade ambassadors’ and ‘negotiators’ for the country, especially at the level of attracting small-scale boutique businesses.
“In the New Nigeria we seek, we must think out of the box and at times, disruptively. As government and as Nigerians in Diaspora, we must henceforth contemplate those global best practices that will confer comparative advantage on us, and replicate known successes that can move Nigeria from consumption to production.
“One of Nigeria’s best brand Ambassadors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers an excellent example of promoting our country and Nigerian brand products abroad. Beyond her excellence in telling stories that promote Nigeria in irresistible fashion, she has proudly ad constantly promoted made-in-Nigeria fabrics and outfits through her social media channels; and by adorning them on various global stages that she has shared with some of the most prominent personalities in the world.
“Besides voting, a citizen’s most coveted role is holding an elected government accountable. With your education, exposure and understanding of government responsibilities in your host country, and collective leverage, it is your duty to help hold your state and national government accountable back home.
“You have the network and numbers to be able to negotiate the priorities of the government, especially during the election period as the one we are embarking on soon. You should be able to place pressing issues on the agenda of the candidates and subsequently, on the front burners for new government that will be formed.
“Patriotism cannot be imposed; just like respect, it must be earned through dedication, responsiveness, active engagement, orientation, and prioritizing of Nigerians in Diaspora. The ripple effect will be rapid and will rub off positively on the country’s economy.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.