By G9ija

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, has said that, in order to eliminate poverty and unemployment in the country, small firms need to be supported.

Katagum said this at the 2021 4th Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS21), organised by Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the Congress Hall at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

It had the theme: “Partnership and Linkages for Post-COVID Economic Growth”, and sponsored by nine organisations ranging from banks, real estate, and state governments, among others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hybrid summit touches sectors such as healthcare, agribusiness, technology, education, creative, sport and entertainment, oil and gas, manufacturing and infrastructure/real estate.

Katagum said that the present administration, which took office in May 2015, recognised that the economy is likely to be on a persistent and rapid downward trend unless definite, coordinated and necessary steps are taken to improve it.

“It was in this regard that small businesses were acknowledged as constituting the backbone of any growing economy, and that in order to eliminate poverty and unemployment in the country, small firms needed to be supported in Nigeria, including channeling foreign direct investments to them.

“The earliest action taken by this government was the prioritisation of three policy goals of tackling corruption, improving security and re-building the economy,” she said.

Speaking earlier, Amb. Zubairu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that Nigerians in Diaspora represent an indomitable force.

“They are flag bearers of Nigeria’s image and entrepreneurial energy. Also, they represent Nigeria’s irrepressible spirit and incredible can-do attitude in business and politics, in education and in sports, in entertainment and in science, in medicine and in arts.”

He added that Nigerians have demonstrated across the world, what Nigerians genuinely represent. Furthermore, with the contributions of the Diaspora into the country over the years and their recent interventions during the COVID-19 period, including the supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).“Through training and retraining of COVID-19 experts in the country, to educating the citizens on safety measures, they have demonstrated that they are inestimable assets that the government should partner with in spurring rapid economic growth, most especially in this post-COVID era.

“As we seek to grow and diversify the economy and attracting foreign investment into our economy, it is therefore apt that we tap into our Diaspora, particularly at this time when we are witnessing a skewed shift in foreign direct investment.

“As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and certain inevitable problems that the Administration is working assiduously to overcome, I am very optimistic therefore that this Summit will be a very productive one and will indeed build on its success of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the Diaspora,” he said.

Also speaking earlier, the Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said that partnership is essential for credible response with lasting effects.

According to her, therefore in the quest of the Federal Government to go far in repositioning the economy in this post COVID era, there is a need to partner with the Diaspora in achieving these goals.

“This is why the Summit with this year theme is very apt because it creates that avenue and platform of partnership between the Government and the Diaspora in attracting investment into local business and thus enhancing Foreign Direct Investment in the country.

“Beyond this, the summit has over the years been expanding its participants’ network, showcasing their products and services to target audiences such as the Diaspora investors, sponsors and government actors.