Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The federal government has questioned the $25 billion figure recently given by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as the annual remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora, saying the figure repeatedly tossed around was actually not a true reflection of diaspora remittances to Nigeria.
The latest statistics by NBS showed that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances were estimated at $25.08 billion in the year 2018. According to report, the remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora rose from $3.24 billion in 2013 to approximately $25.08 billion in 2018. This means Nigeria’s diaspora remittance rose by 126 per cent in six years (2013-2018). Thus, over the last six years, Nigerians in Diaspora sent an estimated $96.5 billion to the country.
The report also indicated that in recent times, the inflow of diaspora’s remittances has been on the rise as more Nigerians who left the country in search of greener pastures abroad, send foreign currencies to their families.
For instance, recent statistics showed that Nigeria ranked third in the rating of the countries with the highest number of Express Entry invitations to Canada in 2018.
However, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Enemata, yesterday at a two-day technical workshop on Diaspora Remittances and Sustainable Development under the chairmanship of the Kingdom of Belgium and the French Republic, faulted the figures.
“As you know, in the past few years, it is said that Nigerians in diaspora remittances is $25 billion. The figure being bandied about is $25billion per year in remittances. Well, I read not too long ago that this figure is inaccurate.
“It is very far from being accurate because when you logically think about it, it is huge and as they say, it even dwarfs the budget. It is hard to fathom. So, I think there is some debate as to how accurate that really is.
‘’But of course, we will love it to be that. There are huge resources coming into the country from Nigerians in diaspora and the challenge, as with most countries, is how to channel those resources to development”, the minister stated.
Stressing the importance of diaspora remittances to sustainable national development, especially if properly harnessed, he urged stakeholders to think through the cost of remitting the funds home, saying there was the need to make it easier for those in the diaspora to remit funds.
Enyenma, however, said the task with most countries was how to channel such remittances to development.