Nigeria has witnessed a sharp drop in annual diaspora remittances which has been linked to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chairman/ chief executive officer of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Abike Dabiri-Erewa said that the pandemic has taken off 20 per cent from the $25 billion annual diaspora remittances to Nigeria.
Abike said this ahead of the 2021 Diaspora Day celebration scheduled for July 25. She said that the home remittances are over 83 per cent of the national budget and 6.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. President Muhammadu Buhari, the director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the deputy secretary general of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, will participate in this year’s Diaspora Day via webinar because of the pandemic.
Dabiri-Erewa added that various targeted measures are being implemented to address the deficit caused by the pandemic, stressing that the remittances serve as economic buffers and safety nets to families for school fees, feeding, hospital bills and many other social support systems. According to her, 30 per cent of the remittances are channeled into investments including real estate, commercial businesses and others. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the annual Diasporan remittances by 20 per cent but don’t forget that we are also coming up with different programmes.
Remittances actually go to support families but we are having targeted programmes from the diaspora, particularly housing which would be unveiled that day,” she said.
The former member of the House of Representatives said further that the nation can not afford to ignore about 17 million Nigerians living outside the sovereign boundaries of the nation, sending home remittances of about $25 billion annually. She noted that the National Diaspora Day 2021 celebration themed: “Diaspora integration for national peace and development,’ would anchor on peace to accelerate Diaspora engagement for national growth and development, adding that no nation succeeds in an atmosphere of insecurity, hatred and divisive tendencies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, Dabiri-Erewa explained that the Diaspora Day 2021 will be celebrated via a webinar and would feature the presentation of the recently approved National Diaspora Policy, nomination for awardees for the proposed National Diaspora Merit Award, presentation from the Diaspora Investment Summit Initiative, among other activities.