The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has called for increased collaboration of Nigerians in the Diaspora for the nation to achieve its economic growth targets.
Onyeagwu made the call at the hybrid 4th Edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit 2021 organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on Tuesday.
Delivering his remark on the theme: “Partnership and Linkages for Post COVID Economic Growth”, Onyeagwu noted the aptness of the theme of the summit.
He stated that it underscored Nigeria’s need for robust economic growth following the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered a severe macroeconomic shock.
Onyeagwu commended the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for leading with policies that create an enabling environment for investment in Nigeria, such as the “Naira 4 Dollar Scheme”.
He said the policy contributed to boosting diaspora remittances by providing incentives for recipients of international money transfers, which encouraged the senders and recipients to channel inflows through the official market, knowing that they will not be shortchanged.
Onyeagwu also highlighted Nigeria’s enormous investment potential, especially the nation’s huge market and youthful population, which was a veritable source of labour and a consuming population.
He said there was need for partnership and collaboration of Nigerians in the diaspora to achieve Nigeria’s economic growth targets, particularly during these challenging times.
According to him, across the globe, the diaspora community plays a critical role in their home country’s economic growth and development.
“ Nigeria has enormous potential to attract significant diaspora inflow, most of which is coming in through informal channels.
“These remittance inflows and investments, which are counter-cyclical, help in ameliorating foreign exchange challenges as the funds form a significant buffer for the country’s foreign reserves.”
Onyeagwu identified the healthcare sector as one area where diaspora investment and intervention is urgently required.
“By leveraging the expertise of our diaspora healthcare professionals in some of the emerging world-class health facilities in Nigeria, such as Evercare Hospital, Ibom Specialist Hospital and Base University Hospital, we can begin to curb the loss of foreign exchange to medical tourism,” he said.
Onyeagwu, therefore, called on the various associations and groups of Nigerians in the diaspora to pull resources together and identify viable investment opportunities in the homeland.
Onyeagwu advocated the narrative shift from diaspora remittance to Diaspora Direct Investment as advocated by Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Mr Emeka Offor, Acting Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
He, however, commended the untiring efforts of NiDCOM, led by Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in supporting the engagement of Nigerians in diaspora in the country’s policies, projects, and development programmes.
Onyeagwu noted that as a socially responsible organisation, Zenith Bank would continue to play its part in promoting investment in Nigeria.
“In the light of this, the bank is proud of its partnership with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS).
“It remains committed to creating value for Nigerians in the diaspora through its unique products, services and quality service, including mortgage,” he said.
The Zenith Bank CEO noted that Nigerians in the diaspora could open bank accounts with Zenith Bank through various online and digital channels and do not need to visit Nigeria to have bank accounts back home.
Zenith Bank is Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders’ funds in excess of N1.1 trillion ($2.64 billion) as at Dec. 31, 2020.