DR NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, the Director-General (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has said the contributions of Nigerians at home and abroad could positively impact the nation’s economy to bring about peaceful coexistence.
The DG said this at a webinar to celebrate the National Diaspora Day on Sunday, in Abuja, organised by the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) to commemorate its establishment and its achievements so far.
The event was themed: ” Diaspora Integration for National Peace and Development”, which NiDCOM described as being anchored on the levers of peace that would accelerate Diaspora engagement for national growth and development.
The commission observed that no nation could succeed in an atmosphere anchored on insecurity, hatred and divisive tendencies.
In her contribution, Okonjo-Iweala applauded the Diaspora for their huge contributions to the nation’s economy, citing in particular how their remittances had brought about development of the rural areas and the sustenance of the economy.
”Let me applaud fellow Nigerians in the Diaspora because they are contributing so much, in many ways; the remittance that the Diaspora send home is in millions of dollars which has contributed in sustaining our economy.
“It helps people living in the rural areas to get resources to send their children to school, take care of their health, build and run businesses, but we can do more wherever we are in the Diaspora, for there’s no place like home.
“So, what we should be thinking of is how we can help to make things better wherever we are, be it in the village or the town to make things better at home, either through creating employment, business, a civil society organisation, or helping to support what the local government is trying to do.
“This is what helps to create peace and I am not saying that is all of it, but the fact remains that there are so many young people who do not have jobs and the COVID-19 situation had made that worse with the lockdown.
“I think we should be thinking of what we can do to help improve the economic situation of people at home because that’s what helps to bring peace.
“If we did not have so many disoriented and disorganised unemployed youths , some of the activities that we see at home that are detrimental towards peace and security might not happen,” she said.
Speaking earlier, Amb. Zubairu Dada, the Minister for State for Foreign Affairs, stated that the Federal Government was willing to create an enabling environment that would encourage direct investment by the diaspora.
Dada added that Nigerians in the Diaspora had continuously shown great dedication, with their time, skills, talents, resources and global exposure, to the development of the country.
“The theme of this year’s event encapsulates the intention of Nigeria in high engagement with her diaspora, especially in these times when we badly need peace, if any development is ever to take place.
“This celebration is also a networking event intended to showcase the achievements of Nigerians in the Diaspora, particularly our internationally acknowledged surgeons, educationists, world class athletes, engineers, lawyers and scientists, among others.
“Men and women who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers for their huge contribution to the peace and progress of their host countries and humanity in general.
“I wish to assure you that the federal government of Nigeria will provide an enabling environment, through policies and programmes tailored to support you and your wellbeing, and in turn encourage you to give back for the upliftment of your country,” he said.
He added that the government had taken a further step by approving and adopting the National Diaspora Policy 2021 and its Action Plan, for a more holistic approach to the nation’s engagement with the diaspora.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, noted that development could only thrive in a peaceful environment, hence the need for maximum cooperation to collaborate.
She urged the diaspora to collaborate with Nigeria, their country of origin, in sharing ideas , technology and others skills, that would promote her development.
The National Diaspora Policy 2021 was unveiled by the NiDCOM Boss, Mr Franz Celestin, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Sir Chibuzor Ugochi of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, (NIDO UK-SOUTH).