Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, on Wednesday said the Badagry Diaspora Festival would help to improve the economy of the country.
Dabiri-Erewa disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Badagry, Lagos State on the sideline of the International Symposium Day, which is part of the activities to mark the Badagry Diaspora Festival 2017.
She stated that those in the Diaspora would be returning to the country to invest and that would affect the economy positively.
She said: “The festival is a doorway to the people in the Diaspora and it is going to bring so many people to the great ancient city of Badagry so they can see and explore its culture.
“People in the Diaspora want to be part of the country so they are willing to invest in it and this will help in improving the economy.
“The major problem of the country is corruption and the present administration is really tackling it. So the people in the Diaspora are seeing Nigeria as a better place and this will encourage them to come back.
“It is also important to note that the festival will improve tourism in Badagry and ensure that Badagry becomes the hub of tourism in Lagos State and in the whole of West Africa.’’
She noted that infrastructure was the key to development of the country.
Dabiri-Erewa said: “In developing this country, infrastructure is very important because it will help in bringing in investors who will invest in the country.
“The Federal Government is making sure that infrastructure are put in place in the country so this will also encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to come back home.”
She urged Nigerians to always attend festivals as it would help to showcase the country’s tourism to the world.
Dr. Ence Bennett, a member of Africa Union Diaspora Forum Mission, told NAN that the festival would encourage people in the Diaspora to retrace their roots.
Bennett said: “I have been really impressed with all that I had seen and I have just been here for a few days.
“The festival will help in encouraging people in the Diaspora to retrace their roots back to Africa because a lot has changed and Nigeria in particular is very impressive.
“Nigeria is blessed and its culture is unique so this is one of the attractions because at the end of everything, there is no place like home.”
However, Mere Jah Evejah, the Founder of Cultural Embassy of Pan-African Diaspora, said her family had difficulties in resettling in Africa, adding that the relevant authorities should tackle the problem.
Evejah said: “To get back to Africa for repatriated Africans, the gap between the dream and reality is wide.
“The geography of South Benin resembles Guadeloupe, but its environment lacks control, particularly concerning the management of household garbage and the state of the roads.
“The difficulties on ground are so serious as there is no formal structure of advice, no guide for the newcomer who becomes an easy prey for swindlers on the lookout for quick profits.
“The relevant authorities must look into this and set up an agency who will tackle this problem so that repatriates will not be discouraged from coming back.”
Also, Babatunde Mesewaku, the President, African Renaissance Foundation, said the annual Badagry festival had been encouraging Nigerians in the Diaspora to return to the country.
Mesawaku, who is also the Chief Organiser of the event, added that the festival had been showcasing the tourism centres of the ancient city.
He said: “The annual festival has been a means to lure Nigerians in the Diaspora back to the country so we are always encouraged by that aspect.
“It always showcases the tourism attractions of the ancient city to the world.”