INCREDIBLE!...NIGERIANS ABROAD REMITTED $20B IN 2014, SAYS OSINBAJO!Diaspora Nigerians remitted home about $20b last year, the Federal Government said yesterday.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the government will tap into the experience the Nigerians abroad to deepen the economy.

Those in the Diaspora will however wait for some time before they can start voting in elections.

Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, spoke at the 2015 Diaspora Day held at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The theme of the conference is: “Diaspora and Nigeria Change Agenda.”

The VP said legislation, huge finance, and confidence in the electoral system were required before diaspora voting can commence.

He said: “We are also aware of the importance of voting rights of Nigerians abroad. But to achieve this, the National Assembly will have to legislate. Diaspora voting is in Nigeria’s future.

“Because obviously there is a lot to be done including building confidence in the Nigerian electoral process. The skills and planning required in planning a number of national election in an atmosphere of continued suspicion of each party is a major challenge by itself.

“Our electoral process is evolving and as greater confidence is built in the institutions and processes associated with it we may then create voting opportunities for our citizens abroad in the not too distant future,’’ he said.

According to him, his administration was building a new Nigeria that requires the support and participation of all, including Nigerians in the Diaspora.

He said: “Permit me to take this opportunity to integrate the place and role of Nigerians abroad in the Change Agenda of the Buhari administration.

“This is because we have embarked on the building of a bold new Nigeria and we need all hands on deck.

“The time has come for talents from home and abroad to mix it up in patriotic zeal to fashion the Nigeria of our dreams.” He stated.

He added: “First let me quickly lay out our medium to long term strategy as a government.

“It is namely to build an economy led by a strong and responsible private sector.”

The President said government’s intervention would come in the provision of physical and economic infrastructure and social policies that provide opportunity and succour for the 110 million extremely poor Nigerians in the country.

He said the administration was targeting consistent generation of 5,000 MW of power daily by early 2016, describing it as a modest target from what was already available.

The President also said efforts were on to complete a variety of outstanding power-related projects in order to lay the foundation for 10,000MW and 15,000 MW subsequently.

Buhari said government was pursuing a long overdue reform in the hydrocarbon industry and reorganising the NNPC and holding the officials accountable for past revenue losses.

He said government would improve the local refining capacity to reduce the over 37 per cent of foreign exchange applied to the importation of refined products.

In agriculture, he said a programme of self-sustenance was on in the production of rice, wheat cotton in order to reduce foreign exchange requirement for importation of such items.

He said rice importation alone gulped about $4 billion annually adding that seven rice producing states were working in concert with the Federal Government to map out the pathway to self-sustenance in rice production within 30 months.

He said the agricultural and agro-allied value chain remained a priority of government in job creation plans as it would support local agriculture.

He said plans were on to create a friendly and efficient environment for investments by removing bureaucracies and red tapes in approval processes stressing that the incentive regime in the country would also be reviewed.

Efforts, he said, are on to return all garment and textile factories to full production capacity within the shortest time possible.

He said to address youth unemployment, government will invest in infrastructure, technology, agriculture and mining while the one-meal-a-day programme for primary schools would also create many jobs and business opportunities.

The President said that government would implement social intervention schemes to make no fewer than 110 million extremely poor Nigerians to participate in the new Nigeria.

According to him, the experience and exposure of Nigerians abroad would be tapped to building a thriving economy as done by other nations.

He pointed out that India, Japan, China and Korea attained global status following the contributions of their nationals abroad.

The President said the administration was convinced that the nationals abroad could participate in the change agenda with their 15 million population with about four million in U.S. and Canada and about one million in London.

He said: “Besides, the financial remittances from Nigerians abroad have well reached an estimate of over $20 billion in 2014.

“With the potential of such huge populations abroad and attendant financial muscle, no government can actually totally ignore such persons.”

He said the place to start was to develop a reliable data of Nigerian citizens abroad using the Embassies and missions.

The President said the proposed Diaspora Commission if signed into law would open a new chapter and create the platform for engaging Nigerians abroad and allowing their expertise to permeate the country.

Urging Nigerians in diaspora to be good ambassadors in their host countries, he assured that the government would ensure that their rights were protected.

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