Concerned with the stagnant state of the nation’s economy marred with inconsistent foreign exchange earnings through oil export, the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has disclosed that forex remittances from Nigerians in the Diaspora far exceeded the country’s earnings from crude oil export last year.
The President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, who disclosed this to The Nation, a Lagos-based newspaper, in an exclusive interview recently, noted that the total oil earnings of the nation stood at $15 billion in 2018, while the total remittance from Nigerians in Diaspora amounted to $25 billion in 2018 [$24.3billion, according to World Bank data]. Nigeria earned a total of N5.54tn ($15.4 billion) from oil revenue last year, according to figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria in March.
Gwadabe said, “Diaspora remittances contribute to this economy more than what the oil sector is yielding. The NNPC inflow in 2018 is about $15 billion while migrant remittances, Diaspora remittances is nothing less than $25 billion annually into this country’s economy, and this inflow is steady. This Diaspora inflow adds to the country’s GDP. It is a cheap source of fund, because it is not to be paid back with interest. It goes directly into the construction of houses, payment of school fees, medicals and a lot of things that are adding value to the weak economy.”
He advocated that favourable migration policy is urgently needed in Nigeria, saying that the country gains more from its people living abroad than from oil export.
The ABCON President noted that over 40 million Nigerians live outside the country.
Commenting on the role of ABCON in curbing money laundry and illicit access to forex, the association’s Vice President, Mr. Azubuike Igbokwe, stated that part of the association’s obligation is to give information to the regulatory agencies.
He said, “When we noticed that the exchange rates suddenly begin to spiral unnecessarily, we mandated our research department to go into research immediately to find out the reason why the Naira was depreciating further and during the course of this investigation, the illicit activities of some of these importers that access forex officially at official rates to import items on the list of prohibition were revealed.”