The Federal Government has called on Nigerians in the Diaspora to see the current economic realities in the country as good opportunities for them to participate actively in the ongoing efforts to reposition the nation’s economy.
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, who made the call at the 2016 Diaspora Conference in Abuja, on Monday, described Diaspora as a key part of the Nigerian Community, which has a key role to play at this critical time. While stressing the need for a collective action, the Minister said, “What Nigeria needs now is economic patriotism that will support this administration’s efforts to reposition the economy.”
She stated that “We must never become so comfortable abroad that we forget, or worse still despise our roots. Rebuilding Nigeria is an important mission for the next generation, who deserve the chance of a Nigeria that provides opportunities for them.”
According to the Minister, “Other Diaspora communities retain strong links to their motherland and we must do so in order to retain the fabric of our families and our value system.”
She pointed out that the current administration is rebuilding Nigeria based on fundamental values that shaped the childhood of many people but which were sadly abandoned by a few in pursuit of aggrandisement wealth that they can never spend. Those fundamental values, according to her, include hard work, enterprise, honesty and self-reliance.
Adeosun explained that fundamental shifts need time to be developed properly with adequate windows for consultation before they can be successfully implemented. However, once implemented they will be permanent in ensuring that we maximise all our endowments to compliment oil, rather than rely on oil, which has created ‘economic laziness’,” she stated.
The Minister noted that Nigeria has in the past spent like a stereotypical oil economy, which has lots of oil and a low population. She said in reality “we have some oil but a very large population. “Our 2.2 million bpd must be shared by 170 million of us whereas Kuwait has 2.9 million barrels and 4.1 million 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 that the fight against poverty has for the first time ever been embraced formally at Federal Government level with the inclusion of N500 billion in the budget for social intervention programmes, adding that supporting the poor is a responsibility of the entire Nigerian community including the Diaspora.
She stated: “Remittances are a key part of our national income and these point 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 channeled into where they are most needed, we will create investment products and opportunities that will encourage and incentivise you to remit funds.
“These include our planned infrastructure bonds and social housing funds. I urge you to support family with positive investments that will have long term impact as well as day to day income support. Supporting families to become self-sufficient will reduce dependency in the long term. Government is looking at how we can facilitate this structural support with a number of initiatives.
“For example we are looking at de-risked franchise opportunities in the job creation programme YouWin. This will enable investment of a fixed sum into a ‘managed’ business opportunity with training support as well as monitoring and evaluation.
“Similarly less money would be remitted to cover medical emergencies if we would simply commit to paying health insurance premiums for our families here in Nigeria.”
Source: News Express.
*Photo shows Kemi Adeosun.