Nigerians have left Nigeria in the last few years in droves and can be found in every part of the world today. They contribute to host communities at the expense of Nigeria. Formal studies of the Nigerian and African diaspora have been limited especially when compared to studies done on other daspora groups. However, with the increase in emigration (over 90,000 visa applications are received by the US embassy in Nigeria every year) out of Nigeria, and the achievements of the Nigerian diaspora in their host communities, Nigerian immigrants are gaining the attention of the Nigerian government and organizations around the world.
Nigeria has the largest population of people of African descent in the world and its people constitute a significant portion of the number of immigrants (illegal and legal) into countries each year. For the 2005 U.S Diversity Visa Lottery program, 6,725 Nigerians qualified. This represents the highest number of DV Lottery immigrants from any African country and it is approximately 15% of the total number of successful applicants from Africa.
The migration of Nigerians from Nigeria has been at a cost to Nigeria, as the best, brightest and most able have left Nigeria. Nigerians left the country in the 70’s and 80’s but the rate of emigration accelerated in the 1990’s. This rapid migration of the country’s professionals has been termed the “Nigerian Brain Drain”.
Just like other diaspora groups around the world, the Nigerian diaspora contribute professionally to the development and sustenance of their host communities at a detriment to Nigeria. The contributions they make to their host countries are typically replaced in Nigeria by the recruitment of expatriates at a cost .
However, without any large scale and formal structure, the Nigerian diaspora also contributes to the development of their home communities and Nigeria. The typically aggregate around cultural, religous, hometown, alumni and social groups and sometimes are able to fund developments in Nigeria as a group. For example the Association of Nigerians Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) regularly visits Nigeria to offer assistance to patients and doctors in Nigeria.
Remittances from the Nigerian diaspora also contribute significantly to their home communities and the Nigerian economy. The money they send home helps stabilize foreign exchange demand, provides opportunities for employment and is used for educating relatives. But just as in other African communities, most of these remittances are used for consumption (food, clothing, education, health care, etc) by family members in Nigeria
In 2003, Western union announced that transfers via Western Union to Nigeria had averaged about $3 billion per annum for the past seven years. A significant portion of these inflows are remittances from the Nigerian diaspora.
At NGEX we estimate that remittances from the Nigerian diaspora total approximately $6- $8 billion per annum. When this is compared to Nigeria’s 2004 (est.) GDP of $72.1 billion and foreign reserves of $19.59 billion (January, 2005) it is evident that the diaspora’s financial contributions to the Nigerian economy are significant.
Although Nigeria continue's to be potrayed negatively especially with continuing incidences of the advance fraud scheme ("419"), corruption and mismanagement, we at NGEX understand that this must be countered with the positive images from and about Nigeria. Nigeria is rich in culture, history, skills and resources. These just need to be harnessed and effectively managed. Nigerians around the world are present in all professions, from Akeem Olajuwon, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prof. Chinua Achebe, etc. Nigerians contribute positively to communities at home and abroad
Our goal at NigeriaDiaspora.com is to stimulate the discussion about the Nigerian diaspora, the largest diaspora group of African descent in the world. Little research has been done on the Nigerian diaspora and so accessing, understanding and engaging them is difficult. As such, their potential contribution to the development and uplifting of their home communities is not properly harnesssed or effectively channelled. By understanding more about its diaspora, Nigeria can present to them opportunities that allow them contribute their resources effetively to its development. This must be done now before the ties the diaspora has to Nigeria start to wane.
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