Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration is building a new Nigeria and that the effort requires the support and participation of its citizens both at home and abroad.
The President said this on Tuesday at the Diaspora Day 2015 celebration with the theme "Diaspora and Nigeria Change Agenda", held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), said that Nigerians in the Diaspora had a lot of contributions to make in rebuilding the country.
"Permit me to take this opportunity to interrogate the place and role of Nigerians abroad in the Change Agenda of the Buhari administration.
"This is because we have embarked on the building of a bold new Nigeria and we need all hands on deck.
"The time has come for talents from home and abroad to mix it up in patriotic zeal to fashion the Nigeria of our dreams.
"First let me quickly lay out our medium to long term strategy as a government.
"It is namely to build an economy led by a strong and responsible private sector."
Buhari said that government would intervene by providing physical and economic infrastructure as well as social policies that would provide opportunities and succour for the 110 million extremely poor Nigerians.
He said that the administration was aiming to consistently generate 5,000 MW of power daily by early 2016.
According to him, this is a modest target from what is already available.
He said efforts were being intensified to complete a variety of outstanding power-related projects to remove existing pitfalls and lay the foundation for the generation of 10,000MW and 15,000MW in the short and long terms.
Buhari said that government was pursuing a long overdue reform in the hydrocarbon industry and was reorganising the NNPC and holding the officials accountable for past revenue losses.
He said government would improve the capacity of the country’s oil refineries to reduce the over 37 per cent of foreign exchange applied to the importation of refined petroleum products.
The President said that in a bid to ensure self-sustenance, government was making concerted efforts to boost the production of rice, wheat, and cotton.
According to him, the production of the rice, wheat, and cotton will help reduce the foreign exchange requirement for the importation of the same items as rice importation alone gulps about $4 billion annually.
He added that seven rice-producing states were working in concert with the Federal Government to map out the pathway to self-sustenance in rice production within 30 months.
Buhari said that the agricultural and agro-allied value chain remained a priority of government in job creation plans as it would support local agriculture.
He said that plans were on to create a friendly and efficient environment for investments by removing bureaucracies and red tapes in approval processes adding that the incentive regime in the country would also be reviewed.
He said government intended to return all garment and textile factories to full production within the shortest time possible.
The President said that to address youth unemployment government would invest in infrastructure, technology, agriculture and mining while the one-meal-a-day programme for primary schools would also create many jobs and business opportunities.
He said government would implement social intervention schemes to make no fewer than 110 million extremely poor Nigerians to participate in the new Nigeria.
He said that the experience and exposure of Nigerians abroad would be tapped to build a thriving economy as obtained in other nations, adding that India, Japan, China and Korea attained global status following the contributions of their nationals abroad.
"Besides, the financial remittances from Nigerians abroad have well reached an estimate of over $20 billion in 2014.
"With the potential of such huge populations abroad and attendant financial muscle, no government can actually totally ignore such persons," he said
He added that the place to start was to develop a reliable data of Nigerian citizens abroad using the Embassies and missions.
The President said that if signed into law, the proposed Diaspora Commission would open a new vista for engaging Nigerians abroad and allowing their expertise to permeate the entire country.
He said that government was aware of the importance of the voting rights of Nigerians broad, noting that Nigeria would consider absentee voting in the future.
He, however, said that legislation, funding, and confidence in the electoral system were required to make it work.
According to him, the last general elections have instilled confidence in the electoral process.
"Our electoral process is evolving and as greater confidence is built in the institutions and processes associated with it we may then create voting opportunities for our citizens abroad in the not too distant future," he added.
He affirmed that government would ensure that the rights of Nigerian citizens abroad were protected while urging them to be good ambassadors of the country.