By Sebastine Obasi
Nigerians in diaspora have been advised to continue to contribute to the economic growth of their country through remittance which in 2018 surpassed earnings from oil and gas. Speaking at the Nigerian-American Multicultural Council (NAMC) 8th Annual Gala Night in Houston, Texas, where he was the Honorary Gala Chair and Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Austin Avuru, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, admonished Nigerians in the United States to use their wealth of knowledge, and wide contact to help develop the country’s economy.
According to Avuru, Nigerians in diaspora in 2017 had remitted $22 billion, making it the highest in the Sub Saharan Africa region, followed by Senegal and Ghana with $2.2 billion each for the year. Currently, the country is among the top five nations in global remittances. Avuru, who quoted the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated that the Bureau had last April stated in its report that for the full year 2018, Diaspora remittances for the first time exceeded Federal earnings from oil and gas sector.
He noted that the remittance figure for 2018 is an indication that Nigerians in diaspora have not forgotten their heritage in all they do outside the shores of the country. ‘‘You may not really know the value you are contributing to the economy even while you are here. But your remittance to Nigeria is no small measure is contributing to the country’s growth. “For me, if you are emphasizing the bridge between Nigeria and America, It is about enterprise and value creation. It is pleasing to note that, we Nigerians are no longer invitees to the banquet but co-organisers and participants in the banquet.
“From the young men and women to the old ones, the position that you hold in multinational organizations, and the entrepreneurs that have risen to height, both here and back in Nigeria attest to your tenacity.
“And even when you recollect that all of these successes are personal efforts and not as a result of any government backing or push; that means that one day, when we finally get our governance right, things will take a turn for the best.’’ He explained that the paradigm shift will come from all of those in the Diaspora based on the experience and exposure that they have.
‘‘When finally we have that level of governance that will direct our noble cause as we say in the second stanza of our National Anthem, then you can imagine how far we will go as entrepreneurs and business leaders if we are doing this much in spite of the poor governance. “When we say in Seplat, you are welcome. We are inviting and believing that you will break the glass ceilings to rise to the very top and create value in your various endeavours. And as you do so, never forget your heritage.
“So I say to you break those barriers and glass ceilings and whenever you have the opportunity, please do come back home to help us fix the economy. And whenever you have the opportunity to come back home to help us change the economy, please do not hesitate to do so.’’ He advised
Earlier, the Chief economist at PriceWaterCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Prof. Andrew Nevin, had said that Nigeria’s citizens living outside the country remitted an estimated inflow of $25 billion in 2018, saying they remained its biggest export. The PwC’s Chief Economist, in a report titled, “Nigeria Economic Outlook: Top 10 Themes For 2019”, noted that remittances remitted to Nigeria represent 6.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and translate to 83 per cent of the Federal Government budget in 2018. On the other hand, statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that Nigeria earned N5.54 trillion from the petroleum industry in 2018, amounting to 60.88 per cent of the N9.1 trillion budget for the 2018 fiscal year and 63.45 per cent of the N8.73 trillion proposed budget for 2019.