Speaking during the event, Buhari, however, urged them not to abandon Nigeria, but continue to offer support in ways they could.
“Over the past three years, Nigerians in the diaspora have brought in over $25 billion annually as home remittances to the Nigerian economy through official and non-formal channels,” he said.
”This is about 6.0% of our annual GDP and upwards of 80% of our annual budget. This has impacted on livelihoods of Nigerians in terms of education, health, housing and estate development, industry, trade and investments, agriculture and technology/skills transfer.
“In terms of diaspora home remittances, Nigeria is rated as number one in sub-Saharan Africa and this is still growing especially with the advocacy and mobilisation programmes of the newly established Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).
“Nigerians in the diaspora are also known to be engaged in skill transfer in ICT and industry. They are also active in our universities as lecturers, and in carrying out medical missions.
“It is, therefore, my sincere hope that even with the depressed economy under stress in the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerians in the diaspora will rise up to the occasion of not abandoning their country of origin, but be active in our post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.
“You are our ambassadors-at-large by your behaviour and character in your host countries. Whatever legitimate endeavour you choose, you must excel and be the best.
“Do not forget home, Nigeria, by giving back and engaging in its development.”
Abike Dabiri, chairman of NiDCOM, on her part said the agency, since its creation a year ago, has recorded much success.
She added that the commission was working with the national assembly to make diaspora voting a reality, as well as partnering with the OPS WASH — the umbrella body for private engagement — to support the declaration to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2024.
“We plan to mobilise millions of Nigerians in the diaspora to fund a toilet per household. A global project will soon be launched and we look forward to all Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in this most needed project,” Dabiri said.