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HOUSE OF REPS TO HOST ROUND TABLE CONFERENCES FOR NIGERIANS IN THE DIASPORA.

Source: pointblanknews.com
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There is an increasing awareness in developing economies like ours about the need to open up the system for all-inclusive entrepreneurship participation.

In the case of Nigeria, it has been generally accepted that one of the major reasons why the nation's economy has recorded very slow growth in the last decade was because of the inability of past administrations to open up and run an all-inclusive economic policy which could attract Foreign Direct Investments, FDI into the country.

The foreign direct investments (FDI) initiative represents a great paradigm shift from what used to be a closed economy whose life wire has been centered on oil coming from the Niger Delta region of our country. It has been assumed quite erroneously that Nigeria held little hope for a prosperous economic transformation without oil.

It is a good relief therefore that this thinking has started to give way to a more robust entrepreneurship idea which is aimed at opening up the numerous opportunities that abound in the country, but which had been locked up for decades.

The idea of involving Nigerians in the Diaspora in this project is meant to tap from their expertise and global connection to catalyze economic growth in sectors like Agriculture, Textiles, Telecommunications, Science and Technology etc.

Among Nigerians in the Diaspora, we have some of the best brains in various professional callings, providing services all over the world. And their contributions would help a great deal in giving a lift to our economy to a level of global competitiveness through the creation of job opportunities for our teeming youths.

Apart from helping to engage our youths in productive ventures, the opening up of opportunities in all the sectors of our economy will speed up the process of diversification from an oil based economy to a multicultural economy with great potentials of turning the country into a major world economic hub.

In line with this, the Office of the Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, in conjunction with the House Committee on Diaspora have planned global conferences which will be held in major cities around the world to address some of the challenges facing the country in terms of not adequately harnessing the potentials of our people living in the diaspora who as Nigerians are contributing to the development of their host countries.

(a)The Conference is aimed at raising national consciousness where Nigerians living outside Nigeria will see themselves as brothers and sisters in their host countries, irrespective of tribe, gender, religion and language affiliations.

(b)The conference will bring together resource persons from all the groups in the Diaspora to discuss and fashion out ways of rejuvenating the nation's economy and improving service delivery in all sectors.

(c)Discussions would be centered on how to educate our teeming youths, who have left Nigeria in search of greener pastures elsewhere for them to be useful to their host countries as well as position them to live as worthy ambassadors of Nigeria and encourage them to aspire for position of leadership wherever they reside.

(d)To promote our rich cultural/traditional values in every host country and to showcase our strength and unity even in our diversity

(e) To strengthen bilateral relationships between Nigerians in the diaspora and the host communities, likewise encouraging them to identify with the Nigerian Missions wherever they reside.

(f) To offer help to every Nigerian in need, irrespective of age, gender religion and tribe

(g) To provide adequate information and support to Nigerians in the Diaspora who want to return and contribute to the development of the country.

Participation at the conference will be on the basis of professional groups and association within the Diaspora.

For instance, professionals in Medical field are to be represented as a group; Engineers are to be represented as a group, University Dons, Architects, Technologists, IT experts would be represented as a group, scientists and technicians to be represented as a group, and Financial experts and industrialists, each will be represented as different groups etc.

The idea is to allow each of the groups to choose a project of their preference in which they want to contribute their quotas for the development of their country. Each group is to decide the extent to which they can make inputs in terms of expertise, materials and financial contributions.

The conference will provide platform for all Government establishments /Agencies and the private Institutions to interact with Nigerians in the Diaspora, with a view to exploring ways or areas of cooperation and to discuss joint investment possibilities that will boost the nation's economy.

The conference as part of its achievements will also take briefs from the Diaspora on the situation reports concerning the welfare of their members in their various countries. This will enable the office of the Deputy Speaker/House Committee on Diaspora and relevant agencies of Government to know what areas may need prompt intervention from the government etc.

It is expected that with the involvement of the Nigerian Diaspora in the Nation's economic activities, the per-capita growth rate will rise to an encouraging level within the next few years. It is worthy of note to state that other countries of the world who have taken the initiative of pulling the resources of their Diaspora together are already reaping huge benefits in terms of growth in their economies. These countries' include Ghana, Malaysia, China, Germany, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.

Participants at the conferences will be availed of a firsthand knowledge of government policies, the potentials and endowments of Nigeria and her citizen's, places and locations with natural and mineral deposits. Cultural heritage sites will be showcased as part of our strategy to boost tourism in the country.

PROMOTION OF NIGERIAN CULTURE & TOURISM
Culture in contemporary world today has become a major instrument of diplomacy. Nigeria has very rich cultural heritage which her people in the Diaspora should be encouraged to display wherever they are. There is therefore the need to tap into this endeavour with a view to properly projecting our culture and customs to the rest of the world.

To this end, we will explore and promote various organized Nigerian groups in the Diaspora to project our rich cultural values to the international community. We shall with the active collaboration of the Culture Ministry, Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation and some major International Agencies, organize cultural fiestas in some key cities around the world where we will showcase the richness of our culture, customs and traditions to the outside world.

At the end of each conference, it is expected that participants will come up with creative ideas on how to advance the economic fortunes of Nigeria. We will use the period of the conferences to set up a joint technical committee between the Nigerian Diaspora and the House Committee on Diaspora, with a view to preparing a position paper and blue print for the implementation of identified projects.

The office of the Deputy Speaker, in conjunction with the House Committee on Diaspora intends to use the conference documents to put up bills that will support and encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora as they work towards economic growth of our nation which will in-turn improve the image of our country, thereby laying a solid foundation for economic growth in line with the transformation agenda of the present government.

When we roll out the time table, we expect our people in the Diaspora to fully participate in the conferences as we implore the government Agencies and the key private sectors to identify with this project which will help to stimulate our economic and socio-political growth.