Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State said the state was interested in incorporating Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora to invest at home.
He said this at the Inaugural Summit of “State Diaspora Focal Point Officers” organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission on Tuesday in Abuja.
The summit has the theme: “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development.”
Ikpeazu said: “If we must take governance seriously, we must include our brother and sister in the Diaspora for many reasons such as Engineers, Doctors, Neurosurgeons and others to rub off their experiences on the state.
“Therefore, our interest is in the repatriation of expertise rather than repatriation of the remittances.
“But either way, most of them are not mutually exclusive, whether we do something or not the money will come.
“The important thing here is how the money will work for the country’s development, and I leave that to the Central Bank of Nigeria and those working with money, they believe that we can use the money coming in to calibrate the variance in exchange rates and so on.
“I must commend NIDCOM so far for setting the tune to be the platform that will enable the Diaspora communities to think of coming home because the rumour out there about how things are bad in Nigeria always affects them one way or the other.
“We were able to understand we must have a Diaspora office in Abia.
“The office took time to look at Abians abroad, what they do, how well they do what they do abroad and their interest.”
The governor added that the intervention of the Diaspora was needed in leveraging their involvement, especially in Trade Fairs, Education, Health and Capacity Building through the Abia Venture.
Ikpeazu added: “In education we have re-trained over 3,000 primary school teachers in the state, leveraging the support of a Diasporan from Australia, who proudly returned to Abia with about six of her colleagues and they were running programmes in chains.
“Today that has culminated in the establishment to the teachers continue training center in Abia State.
“Also we have a programme called education for employment by one of us from UK, Dr. Eze Ugwu.
“He segregated our youths according to their interest, skills, qualification.
“He went ahead to teach them one skill or the other from computer appreciation and carpentry and today Abia has a data base of more than 3,000 youths cut across different qualification, skills, interest.”
Responding, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NIDCOM Chairman, said it was historic to have focal point officers from various states of the country addressing issues of Diaspora involvement in nation building.
Dabiri-Erewa said the issue of Diaspora should not only be in the national and sub-national levels, but moved to the local government level.
She said: “So it was important to work with our focal persons of the Diaspora in the various states of Nigeria, so that we can address the issues of Diaspora involvement.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the summit was in collaboration with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, International Labour Organisation and European Union.