BY: Victoria Ojeme

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed commitment to deepen democracy in the country and set the right example for the rest of Africa by ensuring free, fair and credible elections in 2023.

Buhari stated this on Monday in Abuja, at the 16th Edition of the Nigerian National Diaspora Day celebration 2022, and 4th to be hosted by the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM)

The day, which is celebrated on July 25, annually is with the theme: Diaspora Engagement in Global Challenging Times for National Development
The President, who was represented his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said success of Nigeria’s democracy would stop the recourse to unconstitutional change in government in the sub region and other parts of the African continent.

The African continent had in the last one year witnessed military takeover in Chad, Mali, Guinea Bissa, Burkina Faso and Sudan.

Buhari said: “As you are all aware that the processes to our national elections in 2023 have continued to progress smoothly and consistent with the laws of our land and our Constitution.

“I have repeatedly assured of my personal commitment, as well as that of my administration to ensuring that the processes continue to be transparent, to be credible, to be free and fair, leading to a smooth elections and transmission, transition to the next government.

“This is the only way we can deepen democracy in Nigeria, and set the right example for the rest of Africa and hopefully, stop the recourse to unconstitutional change in government in our sub region and other parts of the African continent.”

Buhari said that the celebration was an opportunity to address over 17 million Nigerians in the Diaspora on the great occasion set aside to celebrate Nigeria’s best in the world.

“This celebration is in recognition of your contributions to national development and networking them to ministries, departments, agencies of government, and states diaspora focal point officers and civil society organisations in Nigeria.

“Let me reiterate that our government has held and will continue to hold our citizens in the Diaspora in the highest esteem and this is evidenced the following.

“The passage of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission Establishment Act in 2017, the establishment and kick-off of the commission in 2019, the approval and abduction of the national Diaspora policy 2021.

“The presentation of the compendium of the ‘+ 600 Diaspora Icons at 60’, which remains a historic record of the worth of our compatriot globally.

Buhari said this year’s theme, Diaspora Engagement in a Globally Challenging Time for national development “is apt, considering our experiences with COVID-19 pandemic”.

He acknowledging the contribution of the diaspora including direct remittances worth $20 billion in 2021, to the country’s economic development.

“As you are all aware that the processes to our national elections in 2023 have continued to progress smoothly and consistent with the laws of our land and our Constitution.

“I have repeatedly assured of my personal commitment, as well as that of my administration to ensuring that the processes continue to be transparent, to be credible, to be free and fair, leading to a smooth elections and transmission, transition to the next government.

“This is the only way we can deepen democracy in Nigeria, and set the right example for the rest of Africa and hopefully, stop the recourse to unconstitutional change in government in our sub region and other parts of the African continent.”

The President reiterated that his administration has held and will continue to hold Nigerian citizens in the diaspora in the highest esteem.

“The willingness of my administration to support NIDCOM in fulfilling its mandate, holistically through consideration for the establishment of the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund as well as the intervention fund to support the activities of NiDCOM engagement with Nigerians in the diaspora.”

Buhari said his constant engagements through the Presidential town hall meetings which are held with Nigerians in the diaspora during all his official trips outside Nigeria, was part of recognizing their important roles in national development.

He said it was gratifying to know that every July 25th, the achievement of these diasporans, many of whom are the country’s goodwill ambassadors contributing immensely and excelling globally, uplifting the image of Nigeria as well as continuing to develop Nigeria, through their resources, talents, skills, and global exposure.

“These are very well appreciated by my administration, and Nigeria as a whole, as you collectively contribute to make us proud at home.

“I understand in 2021, our diaspora home remittances through official channels stands at $20 billion, which is about four times over the value of our foreign direct investment. In addition, many of our Diaspora compatriots are actively investing in our healthcare, agriculture, education, information, communication technology ICT, housing and real estate, transportation, oil and gas, other services and so on.

“This, I must say, is commendable. And in our enlightened collective self interest, as only Nigerians both at home and abroad can develop Nigeria. I’m personally proud.

“May I also commend the Nigerians in diaspora commission NIDCOM for its dynamic engagement with the Nigerians in the diaspora, especially, for coming up with laudable programmes for Nigerians in diaspora believe, in Nigeria and invest in the country.

“Undoubtedly, in the years to come, these programmes will have considerable impact on our economy for sustainable development. I urge you all to continue to sustain these efforts and investments as they will certainly yield admirable results for our country and for our people.

“As this will be my last address to our diasporans on this auspicious day, let me reiterate the high regard with which my administration has held you and thank you immensely for keeping your faith with Nigeria. Your faith in our country is not misplaced. I will add to our momentum to turn Nigeria around for appropriate leadership role in our continent.”

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Nigerians in the Diaspora are worthy of being celebrated because they are achievers and good ambassadors who are putting in their best in all they do.

She noted that in spite of the challenging times, Nigerians in Diaspora are participating in various investments that are leading to development in Nigeria.

“The realization of these success stories of the Diaspora is adduced to the existing platform of NiDCOM which has led some African countries visit Nigeria to learn how to associate and manage their diaspora globally bearing in mind the huge potentials of the diaspora and the impact of their remittances to the economy of their country.”

She announced that the State Diaspora Focal Point Officers (SDFPO) in the states, have established the necessary network and constant liaising with NiDCOM through the summit held every year. “This has led to more investments in the states and participation of Diaspora in project in their states.”

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