The contribution of Diaspora to poverty reduction and development in Nigeria – by Benjamin Ogbebulu

1 Comment » April 5th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Nigerians in the Diaspora



 

The contribution of Diaspora to poverty reduction and development in Nigeria

By Benjamin Ogbebulu
benjaminogbebulu@yahoo.co.uk

In the United Kingdom today, there is a large Nigerian community, estimated to be between 800,000 and three million, while according to 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. According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the value of UK exports has increased steadily from £535 million in 2000 to £836 million in 2006 and this trend continues year by year.

The UK is one of the largest investors in Nigeria, with cumulative investment of several billion pounds by Shell, British Gas and Centrica in the Oil and Gas sector. Other large British companies active in Nigeria include Guinness, Unilever, Cadbury, British-American Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

The role of Diaspora in the UK and other part of the world in development and poverty reduction in Nigeria cannot be underestimated as these include conflict prevention, conflict reduction and post –conflict reconstruction which are all central to poverty reduction in Nigeria with Diaspora in the UK and other parts of Europe/USA and the rest of the world constituting the most sizable and tangible form of Diaspora contribution to development and poverty reduction.

What is Diaspora?

The word Diaspora refers to populations of migrant origin 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 destination countries.

Currently, much more than in the past, Diasporas include complex mixes of people who have arrived at different times, through different channels, through different means, and with very different legal statutes in their various destinations.

Nigerian government under the leadership of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua/Dr Jonathan Goodluck administration has recognised and welcome the potentials of Nigerian citizens abroad through the private –public economic partnership of the present government but Nigerians abroad argue that incentives for migrant Nigerians to participate in the political –economic development of the country needs to be addressed.

States and the federal should create the enabling environment politically and economically to allow Nigerians abroad to participate.
There is a school of thought among Nigerians abroad that participation in the political-socio-economic reconstruction of Nigeria depends on the extent to which Nigerians abroad feel they have been encouraged and allowed to have stake in their home nation state as well as in the countries that host them.

The Diaspora engagement in development and poverty reduction in Nigeria:

Nigeria as nation has suffered from the loss of thousands of highly educated professionals, but the Nigerian Diaspora provide a substantial contribution, especially by way of remittances to the Nigerian economy. Nigeria is one of the top 20 developing countries receiving remittances, estimated at over 1.2 billion dollars in 1999 {World Bank 2000}. In addition to these transfers, there are several other ways in which members of the Nigerian Diasporas, contribute to poverty reduction and development in their homeland.
According to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, each year some 2,000 Nigerians trained outside the country {in the US, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Canada, Japan, and China} return home to seek employment or business opportunities.

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 Diasporas’ political –socio-economic groups that campaign and are still campaigning for democratic reforms as part of development in Nigeria. For instance, in 1990’s the UK-based Nigerian Diaspora contributed to the formation of the pro-democracy organisation, the United Democratic Front for Nigeria-Abroad {UDFN}.

At the same time the National Democratic Coalition {NADECO-Abroad }was set up as an external wing of NADECO Nigeria which sought to coordinate the activities of pro-democracy movements in Nigeria and has been campaigning for the nation’s constitution to be amended.

There is also a new chapter organisation called Yar’adua/ Jonathan Solidarity Forum home and away {YJSFHA} UK Chapter with its headquarter in Nigeria.

One of the objectives of the organisation is to galvanise and promote the seven-point agenda of the administration which revolves round:
– Power and energy: The government have now set up a presidential committee to come up with a blueprint to address the issue of the nation’s epileptic electricity problem.

It is also imperative to acknowledge the courage and commitment of the House of Representatives’ committee on energy in setting up a public enquiry on the $16 billion so far expended on the energy sector…

Nigerians await their report and look forward to the Yar’adua- Jonathan administration in giving Nigerians regular power supply. Other issues the present administration is concern about include:

– Food and security
– Wealth creation and employment
– Mass transportation
– Land reform
– Security
– Qualitative and functional education.

Diaspora political, social, economic participation in Nigeria:

Nigeria as a country today operates an executive presidential system of government. This American–style model was first introduced in 1979, during the last period of civilian rule, and retained on the return to civilian rule in 1999. It replaced the Westminster system that had been inherited at independence.

The federal bi-camera legislature comprises a senate with 109 elected members and a 360-member House of Representatives.

Although some seats both in the House of Representatives and the Senate have either been overturned or facing appeals to determine their legitimacy. This new phenomenon in the nation’s political history shows the supremacy of the judiciary and Nigerians both at home and abroad applaud this development.

Nigeria as a multi-party state with nearly 50 political parties has 36 states with elected governor and elected state assembly of between 24 and 40 seats depending on the size of the population. All elected offices have four-year tenure.

The third tier comprises 774 local government areas and this writer in one of his articles had argued on the ambiguity of the role of the local governments which has not been explicitly defined in the present 1999 constitution giving rise to corruption. To curb corruption at the local and state levels, there should be branches of EFCC in all the 36 states of the federation.

Also, the 50 political parties officially registered should be reduced to three ideological political parties as most of these political parties have no electoral strength. Presently, only three political parties, the People’s Democratic Party {PDP}, the ANPP and the Action Congress {AC} have electoral strengths. Nigerians are yet to know the ideological leanings of these political parties. While PDP could be perceived as a conservative party with small “ c” with its mixed economic leanings of public–private–partnership policy, Action Congress, is a progressive party with welfarist policy, Nigerians are yet to know what ANPP stands for .

Without clear cut ideological principles, political analysts have argued that there could be no effective opposition parties and most Nigerians will agree to this view. There should be effective opposition parties to serve as check and balance to the ruling party.
Nigerians in Diaspora despite their remittances and pro-democracy involvement need to be fully recognised and welcome to participate in the development of Nigeria. Presently, Diaspora can not vote during elections and at the recent PDP convention in Abuja, chapters’ delegates from abroad were sidelined and not given the privilege of full participation.

Nigerians in Diaspora have been contributing to the nation’s political and economic development and the constitution should be amended to allow the Diaspora to vote as all Nigerians abroad cannot be full time politicians but would still love to perform their civic duties in their respective abode to choose their leaders.

Benjamin Ogbebulu, an Alumni of Abadina College, UI, Ibadan, London Metropolitan University, London, a Public Affairs Analyst, Writer and Administrator, Environmentalist, An Advocate and Campaigner of Good Governance, lives and works in London
Source: Gamji.com.

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One Response to “The contribution of Diaspora to poverty reduction and development in Nigeria – by Benjamin Ogbebulu”

  1. ENERGY COMMISSION OF NIGERIA says:

    Thanks, keep it up.

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