Written by Sarah NEGEDU

FG urges economic patriotism from Nigerians in Diaspora

The Federal Government last week extended the call for economic patriotism to Nigerians in Diaspora, saying only concerted effort by all Nigerians would deliver the country from its present economic state.
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who made the appeal at the 2016 Diaspora Conference in Abuja, described the Diaspora as a key part of the Nigerian community, both socially and economically which has an important role to play at this critical time.
Stressing the need for a collective action, the Minister said, what Nigeria needs now is “Economic Patriotism” where every Nigerian plays a part of rebuilding the nation, this, she says starts with a love for the nation, followed with honest assessment and supported by action not rhetoric.
She therefore called on Nigerians in the Diaspora to see the current economic realities in the country as an opportunity for them to participate actively in the ongoing efforts to reposition the nation’s economy.
She pointed out that Nigeria has in the past spent like a stereotypical oil economy, which has lots of oil and a low population, noting that in reality we have some oil but a very large population.
“Our 2.2million bpd must be shared by 170million of us whereas Kuwait has 2.9million barrels and 4.1million people. So we simply cannot afford to operate as if oil was unlimited. That adjustment should have happened many decades ago and had it been done we would not be experiencing our current challenges.”
Speaking on measures being put in place to ensure the safety of remittances to beneficiaries in the country, the minister said improved mechanisms have been put in place to continue to ensure that funds are reaching their intended recipients.
These measures, according to her, included a combination of the introduction of a more flexible exchange rate, which closes the gap between official and parallel market rates on one hand, and the improved technology and e-payments systems as are being advocated for use in the Federal Government’s recently introduced Social Welfare Programme.
She stated, “Remittances are a key part of our national income and this points to the strong family ties that form the fabric of Nigeria’s society and this we must not lose sight of.  As emigrant remittances are very stable it is important that they are channelled into where they are most needed, we will create investment products and opportunities that will encourage and incentivise you to remit funds.
The minister also sought a review of mode of donations from Nigerians in the Diaspora, noting that some of the donations have become avenues for abuse, which has resulted in revenue leakage.
She said, “Donating consumer items under the medical donations has created windows for the importation of expired drugs as well as drugs that are intended for resale. My personal appeal would be that, where the items are available in Nigeria and especially those that are manufactured in Nigeria please donate in cash rather than in kind. Build the safeguards to ensure that your intended objectives are attained rather than incurring the cost of shipping and clearing goods that are readily available in Nigeria and whose purchase will support Nigerian jobs.”

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