A diaspora is a large group of people with similar heritage or homeland, who moved out to places all over the world. Diasporas live and work in states, regions or countries different from their country of birth, or homeland. Wherever they find themselves, Nigerian diaspora have always distinguished themselves in the professions.
Despite the unpleasant activities of some of Nigeria’s diaspora, reported in the media, who engage in criminal activities, including drug-related crimes, fraud, human trafficking etcetera, which continue to give Nigerians a bad name, Nigerian diaspora are not only a source of pride to their motherland but also a serious source of economic support to friends and family at home through their foreign remittances. They are also proud ambassadors of the nation.
Diaspora remittances are a big deal in Nigeria. In 2015, World Bank reported that Nigeria received more diaspora remittance inflow than what it earned from oil, the mainstay of the economy. That year, Nigerians abroad sent home 21.2 billion dollars, while the country generated 19.6 billion dollars from crude oil sales same year.
This is not surprising considering the large number of Nigerians living in the diaspora and their continued attachment to the homeland. Research shows that, “unemployment, insecurity and sparse future opportunities fuel migration in Sub-Saharan Africa where there is a mismatch between high population growth and slow economic development”.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in 2017, said there were about 15 million Nigerians living in various parts of the world.
The Federal Government signed the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Establishment Bill into law in July 2017 after recognizing the importance of the Nigerian Diaspora. In 2019, the Government further recognized July 25 of every year as National Diaspora Day. Anambra state government has also set up the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Culture and Tourism.
Remittances include cash and noncash items that flow through formal channels such as electronic wire, or through informal channels, such as money or goods carried across borders. There is also another possibility that remittances to Nigeria are much higher than have been officially captured. This is because many Nigerians abroad explore unofficial ways of sending home money in order to maximize unofficial exchange rates.
Beyond the foreign remittances, the healthcare and educational support Nigeria and Anambra diaspora provide for their people back home, there is even greater expectation that they should be more involved in the political process back home, even if indirectly.
In discussing Nigeria diaspora, Anambra diaspora is peculiar. According to former Central Bank Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the November 6, 2021 Anambra gubernatorial election, “Ndi Anambra are itinerant people and look forward to having a prosperous homeland where they will bring back their investments to, and where they will always come back to live, work, play and do business”.
Anambra diaspora can be found all over the world – in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and outside Nigeria. It is about time, therefore, that their skills, talents and economic powers are harnessed, not only for the economic development of the state, but also its political development.
The 2021 Anambra gubernatorial election presents a good opportunity for Anambra diaspora to play an active role in influencing the eventual winner of the election for the greater good of the state. It is expected that, having analyzed all the candidates, they should be able to identify that one candidate they believe will help create a prosperous homeland for Ndi Anambra; a homeland where Ndi Anambra can live, work, play and do business. Just like what obtains in the various locations where they reside.
Sending money home is good but it should not stop there. Ndi Anambra in the diaspora should wield their economic power to influence policies and this also means helping to mobilize their people at home to vote-in a credible gubernatorial candidate.
They should call their family members, associates and friends on the phone, discuss with them on social media, including WhatsApp platforms and impress upon them the need to shun money politics, electoral violence, and the greater need to vote-in an ‘A’ candidate that can take the development of Anambra, the ‘A’ state, to greater heights.