THE Federal Government has said that the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped off 20 per cent from the $25bn annual diasporan remittances to Nigeria.
The government noted that various targeted programmes were being implemented to shore up the deficit.
Disclosing this at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday to announce the 2021 Diaspora Day celebration scheduled for July 25, the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the home remittances were over 83 per cent of the national budget and 6.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
The World Bank had said remittances by Nigerians in the Diaspora declined by 27.7 per cent in 2020. It had also put remittances into the country in 2019 at $21.45bn.
She explained that the remittances serve as economic buffers and safety nets to families for school fees, feeding, hospital bills and many other social support systems.
According to her, 30 per cent of the remittances are channeled into investments including real estate, commercial businesses and others.
Responding to a question on the impact of the pandemic on the remittances, Dabiri-Erewa stated, “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.”
The NIDCOM chairman stressed that that the nation could not afford to ignore about 17 million Nigerians living outside the sovereign boundaries of the nation, sending home remittances of about $25bn annually.
She noted that the National Diaspora Day 2021 celebration themed: ‘Diaspora integration for national peace and development’, would anchor on peace to accelerate diaspora engagement for national growth and development, adding that no nation succeeded in an atmosphere of insecurity, hatred and divisive tendencies.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, Dabiri-Erewa explained that the diaspora day 2021 would be celebrated via a webinar and would feature the presentation of the recently approved National Diaspora Policy, nomination for awardees for the proposed National Diaspora Merit Award, presentation from the Diaspora Investment Summit Initiative, among other activities.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and other dignitaries, including the Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Dr Amina Mohammed; the Director-General, World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and others will address the participants.