The hope of Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote in future elections in the country has been brightened as the duo of Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, have canvassed for the early passage of the required laws by the National Assembly.
The cheering news came on Thursday when Dabiri-Erewa paid a courtesy call on the INEC Chairman in Abuja, where the issue of Diaspora voting took the centre stage.
The Presidential aide told Yakubu that with the huge contributions of the Nigerians in the Diaspora to the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria, it is expedient that they should be given a voice in the political arena.
She said: “Mr. Chairman, my mission here today is to tell you the aspirations and eagerness of the Nigerians in the Diaspora to take part in the electoral process back at home.
“They have contributed a lot to the Nigerian economy to the tune of $22 billion remittances annually and are developing world economies.”
Dabiri-Erewa said if smaller countries in West Africa are conducting diaspora voting, Nigerians who are more than 15 million abroad are more desirous to vote.
She, however, noted that though it might not be feasible for them to vote in 2019, she called for concerted efforts to make it happen by pressurising the National Assembly to do the needful by the amendment to the electoral law.
Responding, Yakubu said he and his Commission members are already convinced on the urgent need to have diaspora voting in Nigeria.
He listed some of the efforts by the commission to make it happen by making submissions to the National Assembly, which was not included in the amendment bill sent to the State Assemblies for concurrence.
Yakubu recalled how INEC had assisted countries like Niger, Senegal, Benin Republic to begin diaspora voting, overseas representation and constitutional referendum.
He said the Commission was in the process of collecting data to know the total number of Nigerians based in those countries to facilitate planning and delineation.