Nigerians abroad have much to contribute to Nigeria – Punch Newspapers

Oye Arikanki

It was cheering to read that the Federal Government has declared July 25 as National Diaspora Day.

Indeed, Nigerians living abroad can continue making lots of positive contributions to the development of Nigeria.

The Federal Government and all state governments should encourage Nigerians abroad from their various states to return home. President Buhari should appoint some Nigerians abroad into his government so that they we can use their expertise to galvanise the country.

Think about it. Some Nigerians who have been living abroad for many years have seen how things are working in the United States, United Kingdom and other developed countries and they know how things can work well.

Electricity is constant, water runs well, transportation is good and the government takes the interest of the people seriously. Overseas, it is difficult to survive without working, therefore Nigerians abroad work hard. I am not saying those at home are lazy. But those abroad will want to replicate that when they are offered the opportunity to return home to serve their nation.

According to the World Bank reports on Migration and Development, Nigerians in the Diaspora sent home a whopping $22bn in 2017,  the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and the fifth highest in the world. In 2016, it was $19.64bn. That is how it has been every year, Nigerians send billions of dollars home from abroad. But when they returned home, they can create bigger revenue which will add up to the growth of the country’s economy.

It is their brains they used to make money abroad and it is the same brains they will return home with to develop their country. Many Nigerians abroad struggled before they got visas to travel and they endured many tribulations because of the situation they left at home before travelling.

The do several menial jobs, burnt the midnight candle before completing their studies to become specialists in one profession or the other. There are many Nigerians in Europe, Asia, United States of America, Canada, Australia and other African countries who are working in the areas of technology, finance, engineering and manufacturing.

These Nigerians are talented and have skills and their services are no doubt needed back home. For example, Dr. Paa Uduom, who is now multi-million dollar Ghanaian serial businessman, said, a prominent Nigerian accountant met him in the US many years ago and asked him what he was doing abroad. He told him his service was needed in the country. Uduom said he took up the challenge and returned to Ghana and today, he has created employment for thousands of Ghanaians.

He has been a parliamentarian, minister of state and established many industries in Ghana spanning finance, insurance, hotels, radio, television and manufacturing. There are many Nigerians abroad who want to return home and do the same.  Nigerians in the Diaspora are usually emotionally attached to their country and if they are properly motivated, they can do wonders when they return  home.

For me, I want to finally return to Nigeria. I have decided to return after many years abroad. I want to return to Nigeria to contribute my quota to the development of our great nation.

This special appeal goes to the incoming ministers of foreign Affairs, labour, finance, science and technology to organise a big homecoming summit for all Nigerians in the Diaspora who are into information technology to come together and create a hub where they can begin to invent and innovate. If this idea is properly executed, it is going to be the biggest information technology knowledge transfer in history. The Federal Government must take the bull by the horns and call for a comprehensive master plan for the implementation of this idea.

The Buhari-Osibanjo administration should also embark on a sensitisation tour of Europe, Canada, USA, Malaysia, China, Ghana, South Africa and other countries to persuade Nigerians abroad to return home. ICT should be the arrowhead of this idea, other Nigerian professionals in other areas should be motivated to return home.

For those in other sectors like engineers and finance experts, the private sectors should be encouraged to absorb them and those in the Diaspora returning home should be provided with necessary assistance to establish businesses. The government should remove the bottlenecks attached to doing business in Nigeria.

Some of the incentives government can provide for those who want back home include accommodation and regular salary for those to be engaged in training thousands of youths in technology. Also, Most Nigerians in the Diaspora are concerned about their security as cases of kidnappers are rampant in Nigeria.

This is vital because many evil-minded people will think those returning are coming with plenty of money; they might want to play funny games on them. The government should assure and guarantee their security. In fact, the government should be alive to its constitutional responsibility by guaranteeing the security of all Nigerians both young and old. Kidnappers deserve life imprisonment to serve as a deterrent.

I believe that if this idea of bringing back home Nigerians who are certified IT professionals is implemented, a kind of Silicon Valley can be created for them to join forces in inventing, innovating and training young Nigerians roaming the streets to channel their energies on something productive.

If these happen, things will begin to change for the better for all of us in this great nation. Let me also warn families of our friends returning home to offer them all the necessary assistance and not get mad at them that they should have remained abroad sending home money.

Let those who have been abroad for long return home so that new ones can travel to overseas too to explore the world. Almost everyone in the US can trace his or her background to an immigrant.

Let me thank you for allowing me to share my thought with you. You are not born to suffer. There is a seed of greatness within you. You have two options now. Either you accept your circumstance and continue to do what you are doing or accept responsibility and change. God bless you and our great country Nigeria.

Arikanki is a developmental expert and public speaker

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