Outsized government team in U.S., U.K. to woo Nigerians over ‘economic development’

Dalhatu Tafida, Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom

A large government team, comprising several executive and legislative officials, has met Nigerians in the United Kingdom and the United States to explore ways of increasing their contributions to economic development back home.

With total value of remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora in the first half of 2014 already more than $10.40 billion, the federal government says it wants more from them.

The value of remittances from Nigerians abroad, including contributions through remittances to their families, friends and communities, medical missions and provision of scholarships in 2013, was about $20.77 billion.

However, in response to their drive to support country’s economic development, an executive-legislative team interacted with Nigerians in Europe and the United States to explore areas they could contribute their quota.
The government team had officials from the ministry of finance, several Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Organized by the Debt Management Office, DMO, the sessions led by Director-General, Abraham Nwankwo, also featured a delegation headed by the Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and key members of relevant committees in the National Assembly.

They included Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Ahmed Makarfi; Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, E. Uzamere; Chairman, Rule and Business, Ita Enang; Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Adeyinka Ajay.

Others are Chairman, House Committee on Aid, Loans and Debt Management, Famurewa Ajibola; Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Abdulrahman Terab; Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Emmanuel Ombugadu.

The DMO Director General said over time, Nigerians in the Diaspora have been seeking ways and means to contribute more to the country’s development, adding that the interest was backed by substantial capacity in terms of the level of remittance back home in support of national development.

Mr. Nwankwo noted the experience of countries such as Israel and India, pointing out that it showed that citizens in the Diaspora were a force to be reckoned with in the growth and development of any country, particularly through the funding of critical development projects, among others.

He said the current effort was directed at providing the Nigerian Diaspora similar opportunities for them to contribute their quota to national development.

He said the meetings, which commenced in London on Monday, would continue in New York, Washington DC and Houston, with the London meeting hosted by the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dalhatu Tafida, and attended by over 140 Nigerian professionals.

The meeting provided an avenue for the Finance Minister and other members of the team to update Nigerians in the Diaspora on the developments in the Nigerian economy, the major achievements under the Transformation Agenda of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and opportunities available in Nigeria for Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Nigerians also received assurances of Nigerians on other developments in Nigeria, including the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease and government’s effort to manage the outbreak.

Participants expressed concern about the deplorable security situation in the country and urged government to step up efforts to resolve the problem, particularly with the return of the missing Chibok girls.

They also showed enormous interest in contributing to development with investments in infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, SMEs, and in the housing sector.

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