NASS to approve Diaspora voting – Presidency
Presidential adviser, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said on Sunday to Nigerians in the diaspora that will prevail in the National Assembly for the approval of the vote of Nigerians in the diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, made the call at a diaspora leadership conference, organized by the Nigerian Consulate in New York, United States of America, US.
SSA, whose confirmation as President of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission is waiting in the Senate, said the diaspora vote was one of the things that the Commission would pursue relentlessly when out of business.
She said that while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicated that he was willing to vote in the diaspora, lawmakers were not comfortable with the idea for reasons he did not know, reports NAN.
Noting that the system was fundamental to the development of the nation’s politics and electoral process, the SSA implored Nigerians abroad to join forces to make this happen.
“We all have to make it happen. It is going to be tough and I tell you in politics, lawmakers are not too comfortable with the idea. I don’t know why.
“But we have to make it happen. If Ghana and Sierra Leone, smaller countries are doing Diaspora voting, why can’t we?
“It just has to happen and I believe Diaspora voting will help our politics and voting system.
“INEC has said they are ready. President Muhammadu Buhari told you when he met you that he is ready.
“The only people we have to beg to make that happen is the National Assembly.”
In 2016, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, said the commission was “determined to providing Nigerians living outside the country the opportunity to have a say in determining who will be our leaders”.
Speaking of the members of the Diaspora Senate Committee and the NGOs who visited him in Abuja, Yakubu noted, however, that a constitutional amendment was needed for this to happen.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that, for the moment, any person based in Nigeria who wishes to vote in the country’s elections should return to their country to do so, a mission that many consider too expensive.
Abike-Dabiri said that Nigerians in the Diaspora deserved an opportunity to vote from wherever they were in the world, considering their contributions, through remittances home, amounting to about 28 billion dollars in 2018.
“Two years ago, some people we met in Washington DC said they would gather a million signatures and go to the National Assembly.
“We did not see one signature. Now, let’s make it a priority. It can happen before 2023. Let’s work together to make it happen.”