The Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Saturday said the commission was pressing seeking an amendment of the Electoral Law to enable more than 20 million Nigerians living abroad to vote in the country’s general election.
She spoke in Ado-Ekiti at the celebration of the 2019 Ekiti Diaspora Homecoming Reception, organised by the state government in conjunction with some youth organizations.
Dabiri-Erewa, represented by the Head, Media and Public Relations of the commission, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, explained that Nigerians living abroad were contributing enormous resources to national development.
She said it was only normal that they were allowed to vote from their various countries of abode during elections.
“With Nigerians in Diaspora contributing so much to the Nigerian economy, estimated at over 25 billion dollars in 2018, we believe they deserve to vote for their choice of leaders at home.
“We are already working with the National Assembly to hopefully make this a reality in Nigeria through amendment to the country’s Electoral Act.
“We, therefore, look forward to many more engagements with Nigerians in the Diaspora in the years ahead,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa said that the commission in collaboration with other stakeholders had drafted and validated a holistic Diaspora Policy currently awaiting the approval of Federal Executive Council.
According to her, the Federal Government has set aside July 25 of every year to celebrate and honour Nigerians in the Diaspora for their contributions to national development.
She said the government’s gesture was to ensure networking, dialogue and constructive interface between Nigerian professionals and experts in the Diaspora and Nigerians at home on development challenges and opportunities.
Dabiri-Erewa further said since the establishment of the commission, a lot of activities had been held to fulfill the agency’s mandate.
“The commission has continually engaged in advocacy to states to connect to the larger Diaspora movement.
“We see the establishment of Diaspora Focal Point in Governors’ Offices in the 36 states of the Federation as paramount.
“I am happy to inform you that Ekiti is one of the frontline states out of 16 states that have established either a Diaspora Desk or Office of Diaspora Affairs.
“The commission between Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 organised the second Nigerian Diaspora Investment Summit in Abuja which was a huge success with over 600 participants from different parts of the world.
“As a follow-up to the Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 Summit, two young Nigerians resident in Saudi Arabia put together the first Saudi Arabia/Nigeria Investment Forum.
“This was an offshoot of the Nigerians in Diaspora Investment Summit. It was also a great success,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
Gov. Kayode Fayemi had described “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Youth and Socio-Economic Development in Ekiti’’, the theme of the event, as apt.
The governor, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, Mr Femi Odere, said the state deliberately created the Diaspora Affairs office so that Ekiti sons and daughters abroad could connect to the state.
Fayemi said the ultimate aim for the structure in the state was to make the people contribute to the economic restoration agenda of his administration.
The Chairman of the occasion, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, urged all Nigerians in Diaspora, especially those from Ekiti, to shun negative activities that could paint the country and state in bad light.
Babalola, represented by Prof. Sylvester Ojo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academics, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, , said Ekiti indigenes abroad must scale up their contributions to the development of the state.