NAN) President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday challenged Nigerians in Diaspora to be agents of change, development and proponents of national economic emancipation and unity.
Declaring open the 6th Nigeria Diaspora Day celebration in Abuja, the president also urged them to respond positively to the invitation to return and contribute to the development Nigeria.
Represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the president enjoined them to become a part of the nation’s collective efforts in building a better future for present and future generations of Nigerians.
“The task of taking Nigeria to the pinnacle of development comparable to the major industrialised nations is a task for all of us, not least Nigerians in Diaspora.
“There is no better time than now and there has been no better opportunity than as currently presented for you to become a part of our collective efforts in building a better future for present and future generations of Nigerians.
“Today Nigerians in Diaspora must be agents of change and development and proponents of our economic emancipation and unity.
“Your wealth of experience, when effectively harnessed will go a long way in moving us to our desired and deserving position.
“There are so much more happenings in today’s Nigeria and I urge you to make the best use of your time here.’’
The president reiterated the determination of the Federal Government to continue to partner with Nigerians in Diaspora in uplifting the quality of life of all Nigerians.
“We must together re-strategise our approach toward greater cooperation and stronger partnership.’’
He called on Nigerians in Diaspora to actively participate in the ongoing activities and programmes to celebrate Nigeria’s 100 years of existence as a geo-political entity.
He advised them to invest in the proposed Centenary City by building their own Diaspora village.
“The Centenary City, an expansive state-of-the-art private sector-driven trade and investment theme complex, is part of this initiative.
“Nigerians in the Diaspora can come together, build and own their own Diaspora village within, which can include events centers hosting future Diaspora conferences, and indeed showcasing other initiatives.’’
The president said that the various reforms and programmes being implemented under the Transformation Agenda had started yielding fruitful results.
“We have rebalanced our spending in favour of capital expenditure. The rate of inflation also dropped to single digit territory at the beginning of this year.
“At a time many advanced and emerging markets are being downgraded, our sovereign credit ratings have been steadily upgraded.
“Our port reforms are achieving efficiency in the handling of cargo and related businesses. Our goal is to achieve 48 hours clearance time for cargo.
“In the power sector, the privatisation of our electricity generation and distribution companies is in progress, with significant foreign investors participating.
“Our railroads and major airports are also being comprehensively renovated and extensively expanded.
“Diversifying our economy away from the oil sector into agriculture, housing, manufacturing, creative industries and other sectors that generate jobs and grow the economy, is another fundamental and smoothly on-going goal of our transformation agenda.’’
President Jonathan said that his administration would continue to create an enabling environment to attract both foreign and local investors.
According to him, government is also strengthening the nation’s democratic institutions and confronting with great determination and firmness, the challenges of insecurity across the country.
He said the issues of governance and corruption were also being “vigorously tackled on all fronts’’.
The president commended those Nigerians in Diaspora who had responded positively to the call for greater involvement in nation building.
“You should be very proud that your remittances and investments in our fast-growing stock market, real estate and other business ventures, education support, capacity building and humanitarian activities, most especially the medical missions are all increasingly impacting on individuals and communities across our country,’’ he said.
In their separate remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, and the Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the Nigerians in Diaspora for their immense contributions towards transforming the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2013 Nigeria Diaspora Day Celebration, with the theme: “Diaspora Nigerians – Agents of Investment and Development’’, attracted hundreds of participants from across the world. (NAN)