By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Federal Government says it will soon launch an Information Portal to keep Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora abreast of government’s programmes and policies and also get their feedback.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday when he received the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
“I think what is lacking today is that most of our people in the Diaspora base their views and opinions, their actions and reactions about what is happening at home largely on second hand, third hand or fourth hand information.
“This is why this particular portal is very important. It will provide our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora with first-hand information on what is happening at home.
“We will also ensure that this portal will enable us to get a feedback from them on what they are doing,” he said.
The minister also disclosed that town hall meetings would be organised for Nigerians in the Diaspora, especially in cities with large Nigerian communities.
He said the decision was part of efforts to engage Nigerian living abroad on the efforts the government was making to develop the country.
Mohammed said there were also plans to launch the “Change Begins With Me Campaign’’ in some major cities across the world with a view to reinforcing the faith and belief of the Diaspora Nigerians in the Nigeria Project.
He said the campaign would also help to carry Diaspora Nigerians along in the rescue mission to revamp the economy and ensure the return of moral values that will re-position the country on the path to greatness.
The Minister lauded the contributions of Nigerians resident abroad to the development of their host countries.
He noted that they remained “Nigeria’s ambassadors, whose views are not tainted by sectional, ethnic or religious prejudices’’.
He said in times of recession as currently being witnessed in Nigeria, the contribution of the Diaspora community was capable of reflating the economy, particularly if the funds they remit come through the official sources.
“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, though a lot of money comes from the Diaspora, it does not come through official sources.
“I think that the Central Bank is also doing everything possible to ensure that the inflow from the Diaspora comes through official sources,’’ he said.
Dabiri-Erewa sought the partnership of the ministry in building a formidable structure that would engage Nigerians in the Diaspora.
She stressed the need for an accurate database of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa said a Diaspora policy would soon be put in place to define and facilitate the engagement with Nigerians residing abroad and harness the intellects of Nigerians in various fields.
“We are coming up with a programme called PRIDE – The Presidential Initiative for Diaspora Excellence.
“We will bring it down to various fields; we are working on medicine and agriculture.
“We are getting Nigerians in the Diaspora in those fields that are going to come together and make sure they contribute positively to the progress and development of Nigeria,’’ she said.
Dabiri-Erewa expressed the confidence that with about 21 billion dollars remitted to the country annually, Nigerians in the Diaspora were capable of pulling the country out of recession.
She disclosed that government had the plan to float a Diaspora Bond.