Since Nigeria’s discovery of crude oil in 1956 at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta, the oil and gas sector has been crucial to the country’s economy; it provides about 90% of the country’s export revenues.
However, in recent times, a certain Nigerian demographic is proving to be more important than the oil and gas sector: Nigerians in the diaspora.
According to Joy Kaka in a piece titled Nigeria at 59: Celebrating Diasporas’ Involvement in National Development, “the huge economic importance of the Nigerian diaspora is illustrated by the significant size of its remittances to the country.”
In 2018 according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the money sent by Nigerians abroad totalled US$24.3 billion while the country’s oil and gas exports amounted to US$15 billion, noted Kaka in the piece published by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The apex bank noted that 2018 was the third straight year that money sent by Nigerians living outside their homeland would surpass the country’s chief export revenue.
Also, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said in July that the $25 billion remitted by Nigerians abroad represented more than 83% of the federal government’s budget and 6.1% of the gross domestic product.
According to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances report, remittances to Nigeria reached $22 billion in 2017, a 10% increase on the $19.64 billion sent in 2016.
The remittances were also worth 5.6%of the GDP in 2017, exceeding the $20 billion generated from oil revenues.
The SGF further said that the monies remitted were used as social security funds such as school fees, feeding allowances, and hospital bills for families.
Meanwhile, some of the funds were invested in housing and estate development, hospital project, schools, and commercial enterprises.
The implication of the foregoing is that remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora are now the biggest source of foreign exchange receipt of Africa’s biggest economy and crude oil producer. Apart from the remittances, the contribution of Nigerians in the diaspora to Nigeria’s development also takes the forms of skills transfer and facilitation of direct foreign investment, among others.