Nigerian professionals based in the Diaspora have been urged to change their negative perception about their country and return home to take on the huge responsibility of building the Nigeria of their dream.
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim and Chairman of Nigerian Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, among others, gave the challenge at Tampa, Florida in the United States.
The speakers, who spoke at the third annual conference of the Nigerian-American Business Forum, said every great country was built by some people, but usually those in the Diaspora.
Obi, who was a keynote speaker on the theme: “Improving Nigeria’s Economy: opportunities and challenges’ said: “This is a clarion call for all Nigerians in the United States to translate their skills and know-how to building Nigeria like the Jews, Indians and Chinese did.
“There is an opportunity in Nigeria when it comes to investment that is not anywhere in the world. Channel your investment back into the country; be part of the change at home. We have no other country to call ours except Nigeria,” Obi said.
Urging NABF to focus on Nigeria and help turnaround the economy, however, he challenged the Nigerian government to create the right environment that supports businesses to thrive.
Anyim, who was also a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, warned those in the Diaspora that “if you don’t come back to build Nigeria, it will wait for your children. America was built and so, Nigeria must be built.”
He urged the Diaspora investment group to partner with the governments to formulate and implement policies that attract and protect their investments.
Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, on her part, said: “Nobody can ignore the Nigerians in the diaspora because Nigerians are the best wherever they are found anywhere in the world.
“We have the best doctors in the world but just look at the state of our hospitals; it is a shame. So no more excuses, you have the best engineers and you now have the Diaspora Commission. Let’s join hands to build the Nigeria of our dream.”
Ms. Jane Castor, Mayor of the City of Tampa, Florida, said Nigeria was in a position to recreate itself adding that there should be a strategic plan to resuscitate the economy and build the country to a great nation.
Makinde, while delivering his keynote speech, also showcased how his administration was changing the governance landscape of Oyo State, and presented the investment opportunities in the areas of agriculture, tourism, housing, education
The governor said himself, being a diaspora, had realised that those in the diaspora had a major role to play if Nigeria must realise its development potential .
To ensure the realisation of its billion dollars projects in Nigeria, NABF also unveiled the American Nigerian (AMNI) Bank to fund any investments being undertaken by those in the Diaspora to the tune of $3 billion and at a low interest rate.
Dr. Leo Egbunjobi, Chairman of AmNi Bank said the bank had a vantage position to leverage on the huge liquidity the Diaspora Nigerians move to the country so as to solve the problems of funding that many Diaspora usually faced.
NABF Chairman Dr. Afolabi Andu said Nigerians in the diaspora represented the largest contributors to the country’s economy with an annual average investment of $25 billion.
Andu said the resolve of NABF to rebuild Nigeria “is not wishful thinking, but an affirmation of our unshaking commitment towards the retaliation of a dream for a formidable Nigeria. We are here gathered to chart a pathway for the realisation of this vision”.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (retd), said Nigeria’s problems were no doubt the responsibility of Nigerians but urged the diaspora “to use this forum to translate, therefore, into increased opportunities for investment into Nigeria and provide opportunities in various endeavours”.