The Federal Government has said Nigerians living abroad remitted $25bn in 2018, representing 83 per cent of the national budget in that year. The amount, it noted, was about 6.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who said this at the 2019 National Diaspora Day celebration, in Abuja on Thursday, explained that the figures reflected the research findings by the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances report issued in April 2018.
According to the report, remittances to Nigeria reached $22bn in 2017, a 10 per cent increase on the $19.64b sent in 2016. The remittances were also worth 5.6 per cent of the GDP in 2017, exceeding the $20bn generated from oil revenues.
Mustapha stated, “This money is presently utilised as social security funds to families (school fees, feeding allowances and hospital bills). Some of it is invested in housing and estate development, hospital projects, schools and commercial enterprises. There is an urgent need to galvanise this into an investment fund for development.”
According to him, Nigerians working abroad are at the cutting edge of technology, and are the right connectors to propel government’s economic recovery and growth plan. “We therefore call on you to key into this; be the vanguard for its implementation. I encourage the Nigerians in the diaspora to engage with Nigeria at the wider macro-economic level, especially in the organised private sector,” the SGF said.
Mustapha added that there was an urgent need for unity among diaspora leaders to accelerate national development. The NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri- Erewa, said the commission was established within the confines of the three-point agenda of the Federal Government.
She said, “President Buhari has also institutionalised the Diaspora Consultative Forum to drive this. In each of his foreign trips, he has always held a town hall meeting with Nigerians in diaspora.”