By Boladale Sodiq O
The notion that one’s legal or residential status in another ccountry does not alter one’s country of origin remains a truism in the current globalised world. The foregoing maxim enhances the umbilical cord that exists between the immigrant and the homeland. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (Convid-19) in Wuhan City of China, on 31st December 2019 plagued the world into an unprecedented political, economic and social disorder which inevitably halted global migration.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11th March, 2019 declared the virus a global pandemic that deserves serious medical response. Still counting the cost, statistics indicate that the death toll has reached alarming level with Europe recording unprecedented death especially in countries like Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France and Germany. In Asia, Iran recorded more casualties. More so, America is also overwhelmed by the rampaging virus.
In Africa, it has spread to all countries including Nigeria. At the moment updates from the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) indicate frequent confirmation of cases with Lagos taking the lead followed by Abuja, FCT. The global preventive measures set aside to curtail the spread of the virus are anti-migratory in approach as a result of the contagious nature of the epidemic.
Essentially, the global lockdown of major world cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, Lagos, Hong Kong, and Paris etc has continued to pose a threat to the world economy which is now titling toward unprecedented economic depression. Countries of the world have exhausted human and material resources in the fight against Covid-19. The United State of America was recently forced to access the Department of the Treasure for reliefs and responses to Covid-19. The effects and aftermaths of Covid-19 on the global diaspora communities are looming.Certainly, the effect and aftermath of the Convid-19 will forever linger in the mind of humanity.
Meanwhile, diaspora communities are at the centre of the global economic crisis since their socio-economic and political activities are at stake in the foreign land. However, the salient features of the global economic depression which includes inflation, global mortality, job loss, xenophobic attack, poverty and malnutrition etc. placed the diaspora community at a huge risk of losing their economic and residential status. Consequently, the homeland is at receiving end, hoping to welcome a significant numbers of her educated and resourceful diaspora whose financial remittance has help sustain its economy.
For instance, the UK, USA, Israel and members of the European Union, among others, had been evacuating their citizens from Nigeria using emergency flights permitted in Nigeria.
In a related development, the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has directed all its missions abroad to compile a list of willing Nigerian nationals who wished to return to the homeland as a result of the surging Convid-19 threat. Recently, a number of Nigerians where repatriated from neighbouring African countries in reaction to the pandemic. This all attested to the return call of the homeland and insecurity that await the African Diaspora community in an underdeveloped homeland. The fate of Nigeria appears to be a case; a country that is yet to leverage her Diaspora knowledge, wealth, and networks for its growth and development.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as there appears to be prospects for a post Covid-19 Nigeria economic recovery having effectively engaged her diaspora for her development and prosperity. For this to materialize, some essential steps need to be taking. First, the government and the economic actors need to dislodge themselves from the euphoria of diaspora remittance and challenge themselves to fully understand the structure of the Nigerian diaspora, what they can effectively contribute, and how they can utilize their contributions for development. In recent times, there has been a lot of encomium on the inflow of diaspora funds into Nigeria as if that is all the diaspora community can avail the nation. Perhaps, the aftermath of the Convid-19 might change the paradigm. Hence, we need to look more inward.
Second, diaspora returnees of various countries have generated significant economic growth for their nations. For example, the Indian diaspora returnees created ITC revolution in Indian; China diaspora returnees built a competitive China economy and technologies. Major telephonic tech companies in China are diaspora returnee investment. More so, the South Korea diaspora returnees initiated the South Korea shipping industries that ushered in the nation’s economic and technological boom (Dozie, 2019). It is important to note that the diaspora returnees of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore were significant catalysts in development of these countries.
However, why it is crucial to incorporate the Nigerian diaspora to provide the much need human and financial capital for economic development we need to first put into context the demography of the Nigerian diaspora, its networks and capacity as it relates to skills and the exchange of their access for the benefit of homeland. By access we mean the access to resources, entrepreneurship, socio-economic and political power in the host country for the development of the homeland.
Remarkably, a snap shot of the Nigerian diaspora reveals their resourcefulness; Nigerians constitutes a league of first class medical doctor, nurses, health professional in US, Europe and Middle East. Nigerian top as ICT experts and engineers found in about 500 companies in Europe and US (Dozie, 2019). Nigerians are academician in all fields of studies in various universities in across the world. More so, they constitute leading entrepreneurs and technocrats making wave in the globe. In view of the existing realities of the Convid-19 pandemic, this appears to be the best time for Diaspora involvement in the transformation and development of the homeland through active participation.
There is the urgent need for developmental partnership between the homeland and its patriotic diaspora community in the areas of direct investment, infrastructural concession, education, training and development, tourism, healthcare and agricultural revolution.
The government and its relevant institutions must create the enabling environment that will encourage and sustain diaspora engagements. Nigerian diaspora might be committed to contributing to the economic growth of the country either for perceived social, emotional or financial rewards. However, the Nigerian government must be ready to connect and sustain their engagements for long time beneficial rewards.