The Federal Government on Thursday disclosed that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced by $5 billion, representing about 20 percent, the estimated $25bn Diasporan remittances to Nigeria last year
The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, gave this hint at a media briefing in Abuja to announce the 2021 Diaspora Day celebration scheduled for July 25.
Dabiri-Erewa, who said that government was exploring other economic opportunities to mitigate the impact of the shortfall on national development agenda, pointed out that yearly remittances account for over 83% of the national budget and 6.1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The NiDCom chairperson further explained that the remittances usually served as economic buffers and safety nets to families for school fees, feeding, hospital bills and many other social support systems, adding 30 percent of the remittances are channeled into investments including real estate, commercial businesses and others.
Dabiri-Erewa explained: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the annual Diasporan remittances by 20 per cent but don’t forget that we are also coming up with different programmes.
“Remittances actually go to support families but we are having targeted programmes from the diaspora, particularly housing which would be unveiled that day”, she added.
The NIDCOM chairperson explained that the National Diaspora Day 2021 celebration with the theme ‘Diaspora Integration for National Peace and Development’ would anchor on peace to accelerate Diaspora engagement for national growth and development.
Putting Nigerians in Diaspora at about 17 million, Dabiri-Erewa, pointed out that no country can succeed in an atmosphere of insecurity, hatred and divisive tendencies.
She explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diaspora Day 2021 would be marked by a webinar and feature the presentation of the recently approved National Diaspora Policy, nomination for awardees for the proposed National Diaspora Merit Award, and presentation from the Diaspora Investment Summit Initiative, among other activities.
It would be recalled that the World Bank had earlier reported a 27.7 per cent drop in remittances to Nigeria in 2020 based on the $21.45 billion remittances the previous year.