The Role of Diasporas in Achieving Sustainable Development in Igarra


By Dr. Dr. Charles Jagun

The Diaspora community has become relevant and accorded important recognition by the Federal Government of Nigeria stemming from the creation of the Diaspora Committees in the National Assembly and the subsequent establishment of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission by the immediate past government, intending to harness the knowledge and cascading impact of the diasporan community in Nigeria development.

The United States Agency for International Development USAID noted that an engaged Diaspora community drives development and defined the Diaspora as a term of self identification used by a community of people who live outside a shared country of origin, ancestry, or affinity, but maintain active connections with it.

More than 20 million Nigerians (about 10%) of Nigerians are global diaspora members living in every continent. With roots around the world, these communities are uniquely positioned  to amplify and sustain Nigeria’ growth. The Nigeria Diasporas play key roles in every sector of Nigeria and to a large measure helped Nigeria as a nation with the much-needed inflow of foreign exchange, medical experts, entrepreneurs, and academicians to name a few.

They are involved in medical missions providing specialized treatments, surgeries, and medical devices to diagnose and treat diseases. Also, they are involved in all sectors of the Nigerian economy including entrepreneurship, modern farming, involvement in value addition in the food chain, IT, manufacturing, etc. Diaspora remittances to Nigeria based on the last figure indicate an inflow of $24 billion annually.

Certainly, this figure does not reside only in Lagos but is unevenly distributed among states and largely the major cities. This implies that even Diasporas’ remittances are contributing to the development of the cities and filtering down to the rural communities to shore up economic activities  in those areas which may curb the rural-urban directly and indirectly into all sectors of Igarra life that are visible in Igarra.

Igarra community is not left out in having their illustrious sons and daughters as part of the vibrant Nigeria Diaspora community making waves in various fields. To name a few, we have Prof. Momoh, a recipient of the American National award; Dr. Tony Akande (Pharmacist and entrepreneur) who once led the Afenmai community in the US; Dr. Rex Ajayi (Urologist); Dr. John Dimowo (Aesthetic physician); Dr. Kingley Jademi (Drug development); and Dr. Charles Jagun (regulatory intelligence) who once led the Igarra community in the US and current leader of Akoko Edo intelligentsia group to name a few. These Etuno Diasporas have contributed immensely to the development of Igarra in various ways including corporate social responsibility, housing, agriculture, academics, scholarships, security, medical missions, etc., despite the lack of coordination from base.

With this insight into the potentials inherent in the Diasporas and in particular with the highly placed Anetunos in the diaspora, Igarra and associated organizations cannot wait for other individuals or groups to develop the community nor the insensitive state government, rather all Etuno stakeholders must be involved and Igarra Diaspora is a ready source to tap from in achieving Igarra sustainable development in terms of business investment, manufacturing and infrastructure as enunciated by Dr. Nasiru Kadiri at a recent Investment Summit in Igarra.

As previously indicated, the Igarra Diasporas has made attempts to set the development agenda rolling but often faced a myriad of challenges that have hindered a full-throttle contributions to Igarra from the current state of neglect and underdevelopment by successive Edo State Governments to the desired direction of sustainable development. Of note is that despite the uncoordinated approach of the diasporans in making a difference, they have injected millions of dollars into Community groups like the Igarra Development Association , Akoko-Edo Forum, Okpameri Development Association, and others are well situated to act as catalysts to harness and coordinate the developmental cash inflow into Igarra and Akoko-Edo by the Diasporas who see Igarra as the commercial and administrative center of the LGA.

The members of the Igarra and Akoko-Edo Diasporas communities can be encouraged to be active players in Igarra’s sustainable development through confidence building in terms of security, availability of skilled labor, and trust capital. If well harnessed, this approach could be a template for developing a community especially when the people believe the government at various levels has abandoned them.

Finally, to highlight the critical roles the Igarra Diasporas can play in contributing to Igarra development, I write a monthly column about the diaspora community delving into specific sectors of our society and the opportunities for sustainable development by tapping into the resources available among the Diasporas and how the voluntary groups like Igarra Development Association can leverage on this fertile resource to showcase Igarra and Akoko-Edo to the world without waiting at the mercy of the state government that has written Igarra off of its development agenda.


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