By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
In this interview, a delegate to the just concluded National Conference, Chief Amina Temitope Ajayi and Chairperson Global Connections for Women Foundation (GC4W), popularly known as Mama Diaspora, speaks on the implications of passing a bill by the House of Representatives for the establishment of a Diaspora Commission for Nigeria and the future of Nigerian women.
Well, I want to first and foremost thank God for the vision He gave to President Goodluck Jonathan to convoke that very important assemblage of Nigerians from all walks of life, which has against all odds been able to produce a report that will change Nigeria for good.
Nigerians should appreciate the fact that this government means well for them and that President Goodluck Jonathan is a man of action although some Nigerians tend to bring him down no matter how hard he tries to put change the way things are in this country.
Several decisions which are very novel were taken at the conference and they are likely to give new impetus to women in Nigeria if implemented. That is the way I see it.
We have to give a special credit to our Hon Abike Dabiri Eredua, the Chairman of the Diaspora Committee and the entire member at the House of Representatives. History will remember them for all their efforts and support for the passage of this Diaspora Bill.
You have been clamouring for the setting up of a special commission to take care of Nigerians in Diaspora and the House of Representatives has just passed the bill for the setting up of the commission. How do you react to that development?
I want to say that Nigerians living abroad feel very elated, fulfilled and excited about the historic development in our country. We received the news of the passage of the bill for the establishment of the commission for Nigerians in the Diaspora with joy.
As you all know, I have been working for the approval of the commission for Nigerians living and doing business abroad to be set up, given the enormous benefits that it will bring to this country.
So, for me it is an answer to one of my prayers coming through in a lifetime. As the Mama of the Diaspora, I heartily rejoice with our colleagues in the Diaspora and I know that other Nigerians at home are also elated over the good news.
What is really unique about establishing the commission for Nigerians in the Diaspora? Will it bring in foreign exchange and jobs for Nigerians?
The commission will change a lot of things in Nigeria. It will even break the development jinx that has kept this country backward for many years.
Why do I say so? To start with, the creation of the commission has opened many doors and windows of unprecedented opportunities to Nigerian economy. It will change brain drain to brain gain.
The commission is going to attract some of the most coveted multi-national investors to Nigeria within a very short time. The commission is going to serve as an eye-opener to those who have been waiting on the wings to see if they can come into the country and invest.
It is going to allay all the fears that successful Nigerian and foreign investors have been nursing over the years and open the doors to a flurry of opportunity for Nigerians. By so doing, development that has been eluding Nigeria will come with jet speed if the Government will allow us in Diaspora to pilot the affairs of the commission un-inhibited.
Apart from economic development, it is going to change the tempo and dynamics of educational development in Nigeria as there will be influx of vocational schools, private tertiary institutions and experts in different professions to improve the economy to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.
What gives you hope that the commission will achieve the expected success given the way similar government agencies have failed to serve Nigerians in the past?
I am confident that given the understanding of the importance of the commission by the government, all that is needed to make it work, would be put in place to ensure its success.
I am sure you do know that President Jonathan made reference to the importance of the Diaspora Commission in his National Day broadcast on October 1 this year and I want Nigerians to believe that he appreciates what Nigeria stands to gain from making it work.
As a prominent member of the Nigerians in Diaspora, what would you say they have been able to do for this country?
We have done a lot in boosting the economy of Nigeria and Africa. When you look at the recent rebasing of the Nigerian economy and the impact of Nigerians in the Diaspora, you cannot help but commend the members for their enormous contribution to the country. We contributed a lot to making the Nigerian economy emerge as Number one in Africa and 26th in the world.
We are talking of the Rebasing GDP of Nigeria to the tune of $152 billion that made Nigeria’s Economy to be number one in Africa and 26th in the world. Out of the $152 GDP, $52 billion was remitted by the Diaspora.
Apart from that we also have the One Million Goodluck Diaspora Housing Project under the leadership of the Mr. Gimba Yau Kumo, the Executive Director of Federal Mortgage Bank. With the Diaspora National Housing Fund Loan Scheme, can you imagine the level of investment the Diaspora will be bringing into Nigeria Economy?
We should not forget that Dubai became what it is today as a result of heavy investments in
Housing and Urban Development in just 13 years. What we are bringing to Nigeria is huge and it is going to change the landscape in a matter of years.
It will result in the emergence of new factories in Nigeria and the creation of millions of jobs that will alleviate poverty in the country.
Already, we in the Diaspora remitted $20 billion to the Nigerian economy in 2013 and $10 billion within the first half of 2014. These are facts and figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.