THE ROLE OF THE NJIKOKA DIASPORA COMMUNITY IN FLORIDA, IN HOMELAND DEVELOPMENT
Over the years, one of the most important developments in the field of migration has been the mass exodus and the emergence of large and economically thriving Nigeria Diaspora Communities in the developed countries of America and Europe and recently, the Asia countries. This had brought about a growing
concern on the part of Nigeria government, international agencies and some scholars over the “Brain drain” phenomenon in Nigeria and Africa at large, because of the continuous exodus of Africans from Africa since the late 1970’s1. Despite this, there is still a close-tie relationship maintain by these Nigeria Diaspora and their home country. They usually send remittances back home and take part in the development activities in their hometowns. By these, they have collective impart on poverty alleviation and encourage gradual development in their Homeland.
In the last few years, the nexus between Diaspora and Development has emerged as a distinct policy field, driven by the Diaspora. This is because of the growing economic and human-resources potential of Diaspora communities, which needs to be tapped in order to benefit the overall development of the country. Kudos to modern and rapid communication that now enables the Diasporas to exert far greater influence on their homeland than ever before. This advantage enables Diaspora communities to buildup interesting social, economic and political bridges that link their new places of residence with the homeland. This gives the Diaspora communities a considerable advantage over traditional mainstream development organization operating back home and enables the Diasporas to make significant contributions to the overall development of their homeland. What was formally known as “Brain drain” has now translate to “Brain gain” because the homeland now reap development benefits, and even spur brain gain in the return of highly educated and skilled Diaspora to their homeland.
In the case of Njikoka Diaspora Community in Florida, which forms the centre of this study, most of them on individual basis remit great sums of money (through formal and informal channels) annually back home2. About 90% of such remittance flows directly to their respective families, thereby working to
alleviate poverty and providing lifeline for those whose breadwinners had relocated outside the country. The remaining 10% are channel into investment, developmental pursuits and fund productive activities that accelerate the transfer of skills, knowledge and experience to firms in their homeland. Research
had shown that these investments become important sources of employment sustaining many people who would otherwise have no way of securing livelihood
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
There is still a limited understanding of the concept of development within the context of Njikokans in Diaspora and their developmental activities back home. This arises because of the conceptual confusion over the meaning of the term “Diaspora and Development”. There is therefore, a need for more
research into this, and more clarification of its precise conceptual denotation and its translation in practical terms. It is based on this premise that this study is aimed at broadening the conceptual understanding of what is meant by “development” within the context of Njikoka Diaspora and her role in development
of her homeland.
The objective of this study is to improve our understanding of the other aspects of the field of Diaspora and Development, while seeking to analyze some key actors, structural features and recent developments in the field of Diaspora engagement in Njikoka.