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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  • Tunsj

    I and my friends in the US are ready to establish a technology company in Nigeria but the security and infrastructure problems must be solved first. We are always ready to contribute to the development in Nigeria and create jobs.

    • Abu O

      If those two important issues mentioned by you in your comment are solved means Nigeria does not need you guys in the diaspora to invest in the country.

  • Anonymous11443

    I manufacture gas and petroleum turbines here in the USA .When i came to nigeria to visit they tried to kidnap me in Ibadan.I will never come to Nigeria again. I was born in Nigeria but came to the USA in 1976 . If I want to live in Africa I will go to South Africa where I also have a home.

    • Tunsj

      Well said. The whole system has collapsed.

  • True Nigerian

    Has it dawned on us now? Oh well! Nigerians abroad are remitting $20b a year? Awesome stuff! Yet, whilst those foreign-based Nigerians are ignored and abused by Nigerians at home and their corrupt governments, the leader of the current government was busy wagging his tail to China and licking the boots of Chinese Premier for a paltry loan of $1b of which the interest rates could cause someone highblood pressure if they are disclosed.

    As you make your bed so you will lie on it. Nigerians at home and our useless government are suffering from this myopic syndrome which makes them regard their diaspora compatriots as competitors rather than partners. It’s laughable! When a Nigerian abroad talks about the right to vote, the Nigerians at home – including the so-called educated ones – would be the first to abuse them with the usual idi*cy of “if you want to vote, come home…what are you doing abroad?” Such is the loud embarrassing ignorance of a supposedly educated person who thinks that his compatriot abroad should have no citizenship rights simply because he or she is abroad.

    I know people abroad, whom after completing their studies abroad, also got very valuable work experience and skills there. Yet, they could not get any job offer in Nigeria simply because their Nigerian compatriots here at home would usually say to them “if you want the job, come home first let us see you, and then we can discuss…” Utter rubbish! Meanwhile, the primitive Nigerian-based employer (including institutional employers such as public institutions) who would be vomitting this utter rubbish has already seen the CV of the potential employee, phone numbers, fax number, e-mail address, skype ID, Facebook contact, etc. Yet, arrogantly, he won’t negotiate with a capable Nigerian abroad unless the diaspora Nigerian comes home to see him in person and with no consideration as to the cost of the flight ticket, accommodation expense, the risk of flying for hours or tens of hours just for a conversation that may not even result in a job offer for many reasons such as a paltry stipend in the name of salary/wages, poor contract terms, or choice of location. And whilst the myopic naija employers are saying such utter nonsense, those same Nigerians abroad whom his potential Nigeria-based employer do not want to give offer until they return home to get their own share of the energy-poor country would be getting job offers in UAE, Brunei, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, US, Europe, Asia, Canada, using exactly the same CV. And the offers are sealed over the same internet communication technologies that the Nigerian employer use everyday in their offices. It is silly; very silly and repulsive!

    Many Nigerians abroad are ready to do a lot for their country. But the country has to show readiness to make those things possible by not raising needless obstacles in the way of those who want to do something meaningful in Nigeria.

    Just a name search in CAC to set up a new entity that will employ labour and expend capital is proving very difficult for the country. Can you imagine that? In this day and age, an important agency/parastatal like the CAC does not even give new entrepreneurs the opportunity to search for the availability of their proposed business names online before proceeding to pay for the name reservation. In a bid to get a paltry sum of N500 from people who could become tax-payers and employers of labour, the CAC sets totally useless obstacle in their way by simply refusing them the basic opportunity to sit in the comfort of their homes or offices to ascertain on CAC website whether the business name they want would be available. Just imagine such backwardness in the 21st Century. Who would believe that in the outside world?

    You can’t be bothered to provide the basic thing such as security of life and property, removing corruption from every nook and crany of public and business life, providing amenities like portable water and power supply. Yet, for those diaspora Nigerians who want to come home and take the risk of building a dream in such a difficult country, the government would refuse to make things simple enough for such people who are daring enough to brave the bizzare connundrum called Nigeria in 2014.

    And yet, this country pretends that progress is elusive? In the above context, who is making the progress difficult?
    Nigeria doesn’t need to beg her citizens to do anything, because Nigeria is blessed to have the most eager and most enterprising citizens you could find anywhere in the world. Nigerians are willing to do anything for their country if the leaders of the country simply learn to stop being the obstacle. The reason Nigeria has not become what it should be isn’t because becoming those lofty and glorious things is difficult for her; rather, it is because Nigeria’s woeful leaders are eager to do anything possible to obstruct those who can make great things happen in the country. It’s idi*cy of the highest order.

    One last point! $20b per annum is about half of Nigeria’s budget in a year. I have a feeling that the reason Nigeria is yet to deteriorate into a major armed conflict is because the money being remitted by these Nigerians abroad have been quelling the terrible impact of the mindless corruption, waste and stealing that is taking place in Nigeria. Nigerians in Nigeria don’t know it, but it is true that after the budget is passed in Nigeria, most of Nigeria’s 150 million citizens don’t get their livelihood from that budget. A huge chunk – probably 65% – of Nigeria’s abused populace are still surviving today because somebody from their family or friends often helps them with a fraction of these humgous remittance figures from abroad. Nigeria’s government is almost irrelevant in the lives of the ordinar people!

    Just imagine if Nigeria has a government that is as effective as the Nigerians abroad. The people of this country would have dazed the world.

    • Tunsj

      You said it all.

  • True Nigerian

    Confused government! They still don’t get it. In just under one week, this is the third time I am hearing from foreign-based successful Nigerians who are eager to return home permanently with their money, skills and expertise. In each case, they have said that the reason they are yet to make the move is because they don’t know which way Nigeria is heading and whether the country would become Somalia few weeks or months after they arrive Nigeria by which time they will have already uprooted themselves, their wives and children from the safety and stability of their current location. In the 1980s, were Nigerians abroad being begged to return home? No! They were all returning home after their studies and short experiences abroad, because the country was safe and stable.

    But Nigeria’s government of confusion will always major in minor and minor on major. Just as they did on the issue of hosting a summit of the World Economic Forum, they are here again trying to woo Nigerians abroad without bothering to, first of all, deal with the horrendous security situation at home. Who on earth wants to invest in a country that could become the next ISIS-style caliphate? Who wants to invest in Syria or Iraq now? The worst thing to have ever happened to Nigeria is having a leadership that has no understanding of the word “Priorities”. That describes the current government of Nigeria. Whilst this country was burning in Chibok, Yobe, etc, all that the government could do was to bring as many soldiers as it could muster to Abuja so that they would give 1000 foreigners special super-duper security in order to validate the government’s own hallucination that the country is safe or that investors are trooping into the country. More than 3 months after the circus show, how many billions have come in from your heavily-guarded guests for whom Nigerian policemen and soldiers hold their umbrellas for them? New York Times warned the government that such idiocy will never bring investments to Nigeria. But of course they don’t listen to anything that looks like good advice. So, here they are again, trying to convince Nigerians abroad to bring their money and invest in a country where soldiers can run riots on civilians without a consequence whilst the police openly molest, harass and dehumanise Nigerians for a paltry sum of N50 bribes on the streets and highways.

    Who wants to invest in a country where the President pays ransom in order to get the release of a President’s uncle? Who wants to invest his personal funds in a country where the police ask for bribe in order to investigate murder, assault, kidnapping, burglary?

    If you fix these little things, do you think you will need to beg investors to come? They will fall over each other to come in and tap into the humongous potentials of Nigeria.

    In any case, it is a big mistake to think that our diaspora brothers and sisters who remit these huge funds into Nigeria will,
    somehow, turn those remittances into a fund that would be used to invest in Nigeria’s horrifically corrupt system. Most of these remittances are not being sent home to be used for business or anything like that. They are sent home to look after the tens of millions of Nigerians who would have been dead, unclothed, starved or turned into illiterates because of the horrendous leadership of Nigeria and the corruption, waste and stealing it is perpetrating against the ordinary people. I know many Nigerians abroad whose families in Nigeria would not be able to eat, go to school or have a shelter if they didn’t get significant help from their relation abroad.

    Nobody wants to invest in a country where Dangote is given unfair waivers and illegal monopolies to the exclusion of those who should ordinarily compete with him and give Nigerians a fairer deal. Nobody wants to invest in a country where Judges are so corrupt that it is often a waste of time bringing your grievances before them. Nobody wants to live and work in a democracy where his boss could be ordered by the governor of his state to sack him simply because he said something that is critical of the government.

    $20b per annum is about half of Nigeria’s budget in a year. I have a feeling that the reason Nigeria is yet to deteriorate into a major armed conflict is because the money being remitted by these Nigerians abroad have been quelling the terrible impact of the mindless corruption, waste and stealing that is taking place in Nigeria. Nigerians in Nigeria don’t know it, but it is true that after the budget is passed in Nigeria, most of Nigeria’s 150 million citizens don’t get their livelihood from that budget as the funds are mostly stolen and looted into the pockets of 36 governors and their slavish legislators, federal ministers, legislators, the President, his party officials and those who sponsor them. A huge chunk – probably 65% – of Nigeria’s abused populace are still surviving today because somebody from their family or friends often helps them with a fraction of these humongous remittance figures from abroad. Nigeria’s government is almost irrelevant in the lives of the ordinary people!

    Just imagine if Nigeria has a government that is effective on the common good; the people of this country would have dazed the world.

  • Mustapha

    Prof. J Ibrahim have always convince me, never saw good in GEJ but now I agree to concede that aspect in the construction of Nigeria’s democracy- an on going project.