By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA— The Federal Government has lauded Nigerians living in the diaspora for the $25 billion it sent to the country in 2018, saying it represents 83 percent of the national budget.
Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, gave the commendation at the 2019 National Diaspora Day event in Abuja, yesterday, adding that such amount was about 6.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the country.
According to him, the figures reflect the research findings in the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances report issued in April 2018.
The remittances to Nigeria, according to the report, reached $22 billion in 2017, a 10 percent increase on the $19.64 billion sent in 2016.
Remittances were worth 5.6 per cent of GDP in 2017, thus exceeding the $20 billion generated by Nigeria’s oil revenues.
Despite the rise in remittance inflows to Nigeria and Africa in general, the average cost for money transfers to sub-Saharan Africa remains the highest in the world.
According to Remittance Prices Worldwide (Q3 2018), the average cost to send money to Africa is 8.96 per cent, compared with a global average of 6.94 percent.
Boss Mustapha assured that monies sent were currently utilised on social security funds to families in paying school fees, feeding allowances, hospital bills, investment in housing and estate development, hospital projects, schools and commercial enterprises.
The SGF said: “There is urgent need to galvanise this into an investment fund for development.
: “We, therefore, call on you to key into this and be the vanguard for its implementation. I encourage the Nigerians in diaspora to engage with Nigeria at the wider macro-economic level, especially in the organised private sector.’’
In her remarks, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, called on every Nigerians in diaspora to contribute to the development of the country.