To start this discourse it is imperative to define the word Diaspora. Diaspora refers to population of migrants who are scattered among two or more destinations, between which there develop multifarious links involving, flows and exchange of people and resources between the homeland and destinations countries. Currently, much more than in the past, Diaspora includes complex mixes of people who have arrived at different times, through different channels, through different means , and with different legal status in their various destinations. For example, in the United Kingdom today , there is a large Nigerian communities ,estimated to be between 800.000 and three million Nigerians ,while according to the recent figure from the UK’s Foreign and commonwealth office, up to 4, 000 Britons live in Nigeria.
Nigeria is the UK’s second largest market in sub-Saharan Africa after South –Africa whom with the rest of the world are praying for the quick recovery of Nelson Mandela, a political icon and one the greatest leaders of our time, presently bedridden due to an illness. According to 2010 UK Foreign and Commonwealth office report, the value of UK exports has increased steadily from £535 million in 2000 to over £836 million in 2006 and this trend continues year by year. Similarly, same applies to United States of America who also has a close political-economic relationship with Nigeria. The UK is one of the largest investors in Nigeria, with cumulative investment of several billion pounds by Shell petroleum, British Gas and Centrica in oil and Gas sector. Other large British companies active in Nigeria includes Guinness, Unilever, Cadbury, British –American Tobacco , Glaxo –Smith Kline, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
What are the roles of Diaspora in the political –socio-economic reconstruction of Nigeria ?
The positive contributions of Nigerians in Diaspora towards the development of Nigeria cannot be underestimated. According to recent World bank Report, Diaspora provide a substantial contribution, especially by way of remittances to the Nigeria economy. Nigeria is one of the top 20 developing countries receiving remittances, estimated by the world Bank at over 1.2 billion dollars in 1999 and today estimated to be $ 10 billion of such remittances to developing countries like Nigeria. In addition to these transfers of monies, there are several other ways in which members of Nigerians in Diaspora contribute to poverty reduction and development in their home land. For example, According to recent Nigerian investment promotion commission report, Each year some 2,000 Nigerians trained outside the country [ in the US, UK ,GERMANY, FRANCE, RUSSSIA, CANADA, JAPAN, and CHINA return home to use their expertise and professionalism to help developing the country.
Such ‘Diaspora –tapping ‘ also provides the rationale for the TOKTEN [ Transfer of knowledge through Expatriate Networks] programme of the United Nations Development programme. Also , there are recognised organizations like Nigerians in Diaspora-UK/ Europe [NIDOE], Central Association of Nigerians –United Kingdom [CANUK] , non-political organizations whose activities are to partners with the Nigeria government to develop the country. There are other political organizations like Diaspora for Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan with primary objective among many to galvanise support and promote the policies and programmes of President Goodluck Jonathan administration in the area of Agriculture, [ food security], wealth creation through foreign investment in Nigeria to create employment for our youths, and increase economic growth through the public-private economic policy of the government with ultimate goal of improving the living standards of Nigeria populace.
Yes, Nigerian Government under president Goodluck Jonathan [PDP] government appreciates the role Nigerians in Diaspora are making towards the development of the country through their expertise and remittances of monies, as it could be argued that there are some legislators and technocrats who had one time or the other lived, worked and studied abroad now in the government both at the state and Federal Levels . To name a few, for example, Dr Mrs Okonjia Iweala, current Minister of Finance was once with the World Bank, Minister of trade and investment [ Dr Aganga] had also once worked with Goldman Satchi of London . However, Nigerians abroad feels the government should do more to reciprocate the good work the law abiding and good ambassadors diasporas are doing by engaging them more in the political –economic reconstruction of the country. For example, Voting rights of diasporas . Nigerians abroad while allow to come to Nigeria to participate in political –economic activities, should also be allowed to vote in their respective domains.
Also, Nigeria government should compel embassies abroad to do more diplomatically and otherwise to assist diasporas facing political difficulties by using the core “international diplomacy” policy when the need arise. Nigerians in Diaspora applauded president Goodluck Jonathan timely intervention in the evacuation of Nigerians living in Libya during the wake of Libya crisis and urge the president to do more in assisting Nigerians facing undue prosecutions in countries like Indonesia, China, Uganda, South-Africa, Ghana, Canada, Taiwan, France, Germany , United- Kingdom to name a few. This writer strongly believe that the president means well for the country and joins millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to urge our listening , calm, cool ,rugged and visionary president Goodluck Jonathan to do more to help those Nigerians abroad in their need of Nigeria support. The view among Nigerians abroad that participation in the political-socio-economic reconstruction of Nigeria depends on the extent to which Nigerians abroad feels they have been encouraged and allow to have stake in their home nation State as well as in the countries that host them. While it could be argued that there are Nigerians abroad that give the country a bad image, Nigerians wrongly arrested and facing prosecutions due to countries omissions should, where applicable assisted by Nigeria via their embassies.
MAKING DIASPORA BRAIN DRAIN, BRAIN GAIN TO NIGERIA.
Nigeria as a nation has suffered from the loss of thousands of highly educated professionals and technocrats to western worlds due to bad leadership in the past and president Goodluck Jonathan should as a matter of urgency, make this issue of”, brain drain, brain gain “ as part of the government cardinal programme to bridge this political-economic loss by ensuring through legislation , there is Diaspora quota system as Nigerians in Diaspora in view of reasons earlier given in this discourse need to be more appreciated and welcome by any progressive government. The new 21st century modern Nigeria the country is yearning for, needs the participation of both patriotic home based and Nigerians abroad to succeed and president Goodluck Jonathan as a visionary leader, should consolidate his achievement in this area by strengthening it, so that it becomes more effective and beneficial to the country.
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria , Long live Nigerians in Diaspora and may our wishes and efforts of a united prosperous and developed Nigeria becomes a reality.