VICE President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigerians in diaspora send home the equivalent of Nigeria’s annual national budget and one of the world’s largest remittances.
He said this on Wednesday at the ongoing maiden edition of the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) held in Abuja, according to a statement made available to the press.
Themed “Activating Diaspora Investments for a Diversified Economy,” the summit was put together by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and diaspora, in collaboration with other stakeholders, with the aim of attracting investments into the country.
Speaking at the event, the vice president assured stakeholders of the federal government’s willingness to facilitate the inflow of skills and investment and as well as praised the country’s huge annual diaspora remittances.
“Every year, Nigerians abroad send back the equivalent of about $20 billion [N7.3 trillion] home,” he observed, “almost the equivalent of our federal budget.
“Even as Foreign Investments have ebbed and flowed over the years, this remittance flows, a large percentage of which is informal, have mostly remained stable. Our diaspora community is an important resource, in terms of revenue for Nigeria.
“The Nigerian diaspora, like most Africans in diaspora, have an emotional connection with their homeland that has impelled them to maintain contact with their home countries. The Internet and social media have of course, made it a lot easier for you to stay connected with home.”
The present administration, he said, wishes to create an appropriate atmosphere to make diaspora investments more structured, secure, and better utilised for maximum economic benefits. He added that the premium placed by the government on the Nigerian diaspora is made obvious with the creation of the office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora and, more recently, the Diaspora Commission.
“This inaugural Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit is a further demonstration of our seriousness about the role of the Nigerian diaspora in building our country. We want to partner with you and listen to you and implement your advice and insights,” he said.
The vice president’s remarks about diaspora remittances was confirmed in a report by the World Bank which said in April that Nigerians abroad wired $22 billion (N8 trillion) home in 2017 — the largest in Africa and the fifth largest in the world. In 2015, this figure was $21 billion, according to the Migration of Remittance Factbook of 2016.
While these figures are often a little above the country’s annual budgeted amounts, Nigeria’s budgets have over the years been noted to come far short of those of other countries, including neighbouring African countries.
Checks by The ICIR revealed that, for the 2018 fiscal year, despite being Africa’s largest economy, while Nigeria’s total budget is N9.1 trillion ($25.2 billion), that of South Africa is R1.67 trillion ($122 billion), Algeria’s is $133 billion, Egypt’s is LE 1.41 trillion ($78.5 billion), Angola’s is AOA9.6 trillion ($31 billion) and Kenya’s is Sh3.074 trillion ($29.2 billion).
What this modest budgeting shows, Tope Fasua, Chief Executive of Global Analytics Limited, observed in November, “is that successive Nigerian governments have not been dreaming. Not enough revenue is being generated, yet we are one of the most profligate countries in the world.”
'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via email@example.com or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.