Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NDC), says a Diaspora Policy for Nigeria has been sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for ratification.
Dabiri-Erewa disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She expressed optimism that the document would be considered by the council in the New Year.
The chairman said she was in the Presidential Villa to brief the president on the activities of the commission which was set up in May.
“We have dealt with a lot of issues — xenophobic attacks in South Africa and those who have returned; recently too, young Nigerians stranded in Croatia returned and we received them in the office.
“We have various engagements; we have sent the Diaspora Policy to the FEC; hopefully, it will be considered in the New Year.
“The Diaspora policy is a holistic policy that actually will guide all Diaspora engagements; it covers all aspects of Diaspora engagements.
“It will transcend virtually every ministry that has to do with Diaspora; every department and agency; already, we are working with states; 13 states have focal persons on Diaspora; there are two commissioners for Diaspora.
“Ondo State has a House Committee on Diaspora Chairman; and we hope that other states will have their focal persons because we need to also move to the sub-national governments in terms of Diaspora engagements.
“We believe that if we are able to have this policy; it will actually revolutionarise a lot of things in this country.’’
Dabiri-Erewa said that she briefed the president on the short, medium and long term goals of the commission.
She said that the president had instructed that wherever Nigerians were, their welfare should be paramount.
According to her, in line with the president’s directive, the commission is always engaging with Nigerians wherever they are to make sure no one is neglected.
“So, as we move into the New Year, we have started a process of having a Diaspora database to know exactly the number of Nigerians in Diaspora as accurately as we can.
“Hopefully, we will have a Diaspora Policy that will be ratified by FEC and then we continue our engagements.
“We have had the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit which was very successful; we are planning the Nigeria Diaspora Trust Fund because Nigerians in Diaspora want to invest in the country and they want to contribute.
“So, Diaspora Investment Trust Fund will be coming up in the New Year and a lot of other engagements and activities; and as per the returnees from South Africa, like we said earlier, we have not abandoned and will not abandon them.’’
Dabiri-Erewa said that in January 2020, NDC would meet again with SMEDAN and other relevant agencies with a view to addressing the plight of the returnees from South Africa.
She said that the commission would also be engaging the National Assembly to look into the issue of Diaspora voting.
According to her, Nigerians in Diaspora believe they should be able to vote as they are remitting so much money to the country and contributing much to the economy.
Dabiri-Erewa said that in 2019, Diaspora remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora amounted to 25 billion dollars excluding informal remittances.
“We believe they deserve to vote.
“So, the parliament, we hope we can work with them to amend the relevant laws to make it possible for Nigerians in Diaspora to able to vote,’’ the chairman said.
She said that the commission was facing funding challenges as it got zero allocation for overhead in 2020 budget while the National Assembly gave it N300 million.
The chairman said that financial issues would not discourage the commission from carrying out its mandate as its members of staff are dedicated to work