State of the nation: Nigerians in Diaspora to vote in future elections, says INEC

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    Honourable Abike Dabiri
    Honourable Abike Dabiri, winning for the Diasporas.

    Britain and America are among four countries being considered for trial elections experimentation as the government takes positive moves aimed at securing a free and fair election in the near future.

    Already, an attempt is being made for the removal of a clause in the  Section 77(2) of the Constitution which says only Nigerians resident in Nigeria can register for an election, or  even vote during elections.

    According to a government official: “If we do that, all would be okay for the future”

    The move has been made as the government of  Acting President Goodluck Jonathan gave orders for the involvement of Nigerians in the Diaspora in all political dispensation as they unfold in future  to determine the fate of the nation

    The issue of the Diasporians involvement in the nations’ electoral processes topped the agenda recently when the Chairman of the Nigerians In the Diaspora Organisation in Europe(NIDOE), Dr Alistair Soyode and  the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Dame Abike Dabiri-Erewa appeared during the AIT nation’s lifeline political programme Focus Nigeria.

    They had emphasize the need for Nigerians abroad to get involved in all matters concerning the future of the country. They had put the the issue of voting in elections in the forefront of their discussions.

    They had also put across suggestions for the establishment of a functioning parastatal to deal with affairs of all Nigerians abroad, siting examples of many countries in the world who had taken similar steps taking seriously the welfare of their citizens living abroad.

    Alistair and High Commissioner to the UK, Alhaji Dalhatu Tafida during a courtesy call to Nigeria House, London.

    Until recently, Nigerians living in other nations are one of the most neglected and ignored and deprived as no missions or embassies are known to take seriously, social, economics political and welfare of the citizens to their heart.

    The laxity had drawn riots and protests in many nations across the world as Nigerians deplore the lackadaisical approach of  the citizens welfare despite positive effort to boost the economy of the nation indirectly through family support back home and establishment of companies and small scale  businesses.

    Addressing some dignitaries who are to serve as eyes of the commission  in the next electoral process,  INEC Chairman, Maurice Iwu, hinted that final touches are being put in place for the trial of dummy elections in four countries of the world. The aim is to get Nigerians in the Diaspora deeply involved in the running of their fatherland.

    He said the commission had concluded plans to conduct elections in four English-speaking countries, including Britain and the United State.

    “On Diaspora voting, all we need to do is to amend Section 77(2) of the Constitution just to remove one clause that says only Nigerians resident in Nigeria can register for an election, not even vote. If we do that, that would be okay.

    “We chose Britain and others for the pilot project because these are countries where we have many Nigerians and there would be no language problems,’’ Iwu said.

    NIDOE chair, Alistair

    Responding to the move,  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, said the decision was appropriate  because of the contributions of Nigerians living abroad to the country’s development in many facets.

    She said with an official annual remittance of $11 billion Nigerians in the Diaspora were capable of mobilising substantial investments and development capital for the country.

    She said the committee was sponsoring the Diaspora Commission Bill, with a view to unleashing the force of technological, socio-political, scientific and innovative power in Nigeria through the mobilisation of the intellectual and creative energies of Nigerian professionals overseas.

    Dabiri-Erewa noted that 15 countries had full Diaspora ministries dedicated solely to Diaspora affairs, while about 10 countries had Diaspora institutions dealing with Diaspora matters.

    She stressed the need for a central organisation that would deal with all matters concerning the best Diaspora practices, urging for the  coordination of  Diaspora activities and programmes that would enhance the nation positively in a systematic manner.

    “Right now in Nigeria, the various departments and agencies dealing with Diaspora issues are fragmented.

    Therefore, it is desirable to have a central body where Diaspora issues can be systematically and adequately addressed,’’ she said.

    He said the commission had concluded plans to conduct elections in four English-speaking countries, including Britain and the U.S.

    “On Diaspora voting, all we need to do is to amend Section 77(2) of the Constitution just to remove one clause that says only Nigerians resident in Nigeria can register for an election, not even vote. If we do that, that would be okay.