Hon. Tolulope Akande-Shadipe, Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs has described the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) as an economic asset to the country.
She disclosed this at the first meeting held between the committee and NiDCOM Management at the State House in Abuja on Friday.
“Diaspora commission is extremely important to Nigeria; we have millions of Nigerians spread across the world.
“We need to begin to harness that asset because it’s a major asset to our nation and if not harnessed, it will be lost forever.
“So it’s imperative that the nation as a whole, respects the impact that diasporas can have on the progress of the nation economically, exchange of know-how and progress in all aspects and spheres of the country’s existence,’’ she said.
Akande-Shadipe added that the committee and members of the parliament planned to collaborate wherever applicable, with NIDCOM to ensure that it (the commission) achieved its mandate.
She described the mandate as a priority, saying that if the commission was able to achieve that mandate, it would mean a lot to Nigeria.
“The remittances that are being reported do not justify the amount of remittances actually coming into the country.
“If we collaborate better with our fellow Nigerians in the diaspora, there’s no doubt that we’ll be able to document such remittances better.
“We have Nigerians in the diaspora who want to have opportunity to own homes and assets in their homeland, and with a commission like NiDCOM which is a platform for better collaboration that will be useful to them.
“Because a lot of people abroad want to build houses at home, they send money to relatives and these houses never materialised, and a lot of other lost ventures in that line, but with the commission, we can begin to partner for housing projects.
“Hopefully, before the end of this year, all accommodation issue for the commission will be resolved, because I can imagine working in an environment without enough office space.
“Not enough desks and you have people hanging around not being able to be productive, it must be very disheartening for the commission, we pray and we will work toward ensuring that is it resolved,’’ she said.
Responding, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, CEO/Chairman of NiDCOM, said that achieving set goals could be challenging.
She said that the commission would work with parliament to harness the great potentialities of the diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa solicited the support of the committee to enable the commission grow by working on the 2021 budget.
According to her, once that is done, the commission will be able to achieve its set mandate.
“We appreciate the diligence of the chairman and members of the committee for the 2020 budget.
“Although we got eight million for re-current expenditure, we are not discouraged because it’s a new commission.
“In fact we are determined to be a revenue generating agency, and we are determined that at the end of the day, we will be able to show that there are a lot of things we can do because we are talking about human capital development.
“We have the Diaspora Policy that is with the Federal Executive Council (FEC), but COVID-19 delayed a lot of processes.
“So we are hoping that it will rectify the policy.
“We have been on it for three years and we are working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and when that policy is rectified, we will have a holistic policy that will guide all Diaspora engagements.
“Also we have a programme with the Federal Mortgage Bank where Nigerians in the Diaspora can be abroad and still be able to buy homes wherever they are in the world.
“The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory is allocating a space for the Diaspora Medical City, so that those in the diaspora can have a place where they can access a medical centre of excellence,’’ she said. (NAN)