Chioke: Diaspora Remittances Far Exceed Nigeria’s Gross Oil Revenue

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Ike Chioke
Group Managing Director of Afrinvest, Mr. Ike Chioke

Obinna Chima

The Group Managing Director, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ike Chioke, has stated that the total amount of inflow from diaspora remittances into Nigeria in 2018 was equal to 84 per cent of the country’s budget last year.

According to Chioke, in 2018, diaspora remittances exceeded gross oil revenue into the country, thereby emphasising the need to pay more attention to such inflow.

He said this in a report titled: “Anyí Aga Ato na Mmehie? – Envisioning New Paradigm for Investment n’Ala Igbo,” obtained at the weekend. Anyí Aga Ato na Mmehie is the Igbo translation of ‘Shall We Continue in Sin?’

The Afrinvest boss pointed out that the 2018 Remittance of Nigerians in the United States of $7.2 billion was more than the entire $6.7  billion earmarked for capital expenditure for 2019.

He listed the 10 deadly sins ‘Mmehie’ in the Nigerian economy to include petroleum subsidy, deregulation of the oil and gas sector, corruption, impunity and rule of law, power sector bottleneck, electricity availability, education, healthcare, poverty incidence, social injustice and ease of doing business.

“Nigeria is not an oil producing country. Nigeria is a human capital producing country because diaspora flows far exceed gross oil revenue receipts,” he stressed.

According to him, Nigeria’s total debt stock has risen by $27.9 billion (84% rise) in the last four years, driven mostly by the $15.7 billion increase (341% jump) in foreign debt. The country spent  $5.2 billion spent on fuel subsidy in 2018.

“Buhari rejected the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) that would have revolutionised, liberalised, completely reformed, eliminated most of the fraud and subsidy, ensured transparency, inspired confidence and attracted massive economic investments to the oil sector for the simple reason that it reduced the powers of the president to interfere with the oil sector

“The reality of energy transition is catching up very fast and may result in a complete waste of opportunities if investments are not attracted in the next five years.”

Commenting on the issue of social injustice, he noted that the culture of impunity continues to thrive wherein public office holders can commit crimes including looting the treasury and yet remain unpunished and in some cases remain in their jobs;

“In addition, the recent travails of former CJN Onnoghen at the CCT clearly shows that the Executive branch of government has taken full control of the Judiciary,” he said.

According to Chike, Nigeria cannot unlock the traffic jam of all the players in the power industry without looking closely at all the bottlenecks, especially tariffs. He noted that at 10.8  per cent, Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children.

Nigeria now the poverty capital of the world with 91.5million people living in poverty, he said, adding that the country was now  faced with widespread security challenges across the entire country.

“The North (which is yet to produce any crude oil) has the highest allocation of income from crude oil sales. Over 30,000 Niger Delta militants under Amnesty Programme have scholarships to study overseas with N100,000 monthly allowance each; meanwhile, ordinary honest hardworking Nigerians are struggling to earn the minimum wage which is being increased to N30,000 per month. With all these sins, it is a miracle that Nigeria is only 146 out of 190 countries according to World Bank’s 2019 ease of doing business report,” he added.

In his overview of the economy of the South-eastern Nigeria, Chioke pointed out that the region is driven largely by services, with a N9.7 trillion economy.

“Concentration of political power fuels massive corruption at the polling units. Once in power, politicians believe it is their right to recoup their “investment” and often begin a systematic process of looting the treasury. However, South East politicians in power have not demonstrated sufficient political maturity to seek to tackle the peculiar challenges of the region collaboratively.

“Ndi Igbo often complain of discrimination due to the federal character law. However, across Ala Igbo, we perpetrate the worst forms of nepotism. Our application of federal character down to the village level makes a mockery of our cries of discrimination by the centre,” Chioke said.

Furthermore, he noted failure by businesses in the region to seek professional advice, citing the case of  Innoson versus GTBank.

“What started as deduction of excess interest amounting to ₦786 million in 2004 has dragged on for over 15 years into a ₦30 billion distraction. I wonder if this would have happened at all if Innoson had employed competent accountants to monitor his bank accounts.

“The South-est produces some of the brightest minds in the world. However, we are not building the enabling economic environment to retain them to work in the region. The south east region will benefit from any positive effort Nigeria makes in reducing or eliminating the 10 Deadly sins. Hence, increased electricity availability, improvement in security and higher commitments to human capital development are critical to moving the entire country forward.

“For Ala Igbo, the new investment paradigms call for a shift away from industry sectors that are heavily dependent on licences and permits from the center to sectors that can be managed wholly within the region or indeed within a state. The south east has a total land area of 22,783km2 with an estimated arable land size of 8,498km2.

“The region can potentially cultivate enough food to feed the south east and also for export just like Israel.  The region can also concentrate on all the areas of the agricultural sector value chain for maximum returns. With a N6.5 billion investment, we could potentially mechanise most of the subsistence farming done in Abia State and produce cash crops for export.

“The south east is home to many tourist attraction sites such as Awhum Warm Waterfalls, Ogbunike Caves, Agulu Lake, amongst others. With an international airport in Enugu as a feeder, all five states can upgrade their various tourist sites and build supporting facilities such as hotels and restaurants of appropriate quality. Travel tour operators can then package these tourist attractions as a product that can be sold to both local and foreign visitors.”