Immediately after independence in 1960, Nigerians who travelled abroad at the time – they travelled mostly to England and studied law, medicine and political science — had government scholarship to proceed for further studies. We did not have many higher institutions of learning; so the intention was to build capacity, knowledge and provide manpower, especially in the civil service. They returned home after their studies as there was really no reason to stay back – the economy was strong.
Now, things have changed. There’s hardly any part of the world you will not find Nigerians largely due to economic migration to get a better life. We have large Nigerian communities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, UAE, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi; South Africa and across Europe and African countries. In Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, you would also find Nigerian traders who travel to these countries or live there for commercial reasons.
By and large, Nigerians are ambitious, aggressive and hardworking people. Wherever you go, you will find them in leadership positions across different sectors. The urge to do well is the driving force behind the success recorded by Nigerians abroad. We are celebrated for our distinction in commerce, medicine, engineering, science and technology – this is the result of the competitive nature of our society. After all, Naija no dey carry last! It is an open secret that Nigerians belong to the most educated ethnic groups in the United States, United Kingdom and some other countries.
Available records at the Central Bank of Nigeria indicate that Nigerians in the Diaspora make remittances back home of about $26 billion annually which accounts for about 5.3% of our GDP (Nigeria’s GDP in 2019 was $446.543 billion). This is a significant revenue boost from outside the country. However, our dip stick survey and random conversations indicated that Nigerians in the Diaspora who would ordinarily want to invest more in the country are reluctant to return home for the following reasons:
- Irregular electricity supply;
- Poor infrastructure;
- Security challenges;
- Unstable political leadership, and
- Access to the right skills.
Nonetheless, Nigerians living and working abroad have not lost hope for a better Nigeria, their country of birth. At MNBP, we shall encourage them to return home and invest their resources in the productive sectors of the economy. We shall establish a Diaspora Outreach programmme to connect with Nigerians wherever they may be. The goal is to generate data and explore possible areas of co-operation to support the vision of MNBP