By Isaac Aregbesola
The Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says Federal Government is making necessary efforts to ensure that Nigerians in the Diaspora exercise their voting rights.
Dabiri-Erewa made the assertion while playing host to the Rwanda High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Stanislas Kamazi, in Abuja.
She, however, ruled out the possibility of voting for Nigerians in Diaspora in 2019.
“Nigerians abroad have the touch of the government, Nigerians in the Diaspora have remitted about 22 billion dollars annually.
“But, beyond the remittance, they also want to vote and efforts are being made to achieving that; though, not in 2019.
“It is one of what we hope that will happen in subsequent elections,” Dabiri-Erewa said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had at a forum said that the possibility of Diaspora voting in 2019 was not certain.
Yakubu said that the National Assembly needed to amend the sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) to make way for Nigerians living outside the country to participate in the electoral process and vote.
“The law as it stands at the moment, says that you can only vote where you are registered,” the INEC chairman had said.
Dabiri-Erewa said that those in the Diaspora were also interested in investing in the country and government was making environment conducive for that investment.
“They want to invest in their own country; so, we are providing the structures to make that possible by working with other government agencies to make that possible.
“Government is also working on data of those that have returned; lots of them are going into farming and they are not regretting investing in their country.
“So, government is making sure that the Diasporas invest in their country to bring in their wealth of their experiences and resources to develop the country.
“We want to ensure that Nigerians in the Diaspora be the best as they always be,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa said that there were a lot of lessons to learn from Rwanda Diaspora operation.
In his remarks, the high commissioner said that there were a lot of lessons to learn from Rwanda Diaspora policy which has been in operation for some years.
Kamazi said that Rwanda’s new administration had created a platform for the Diaspora to be part of the country and enjoy the same right as the citizens in the country
“Apart from this, there is the personal contact. As a matter of fact, every year in Rwanda we hold constitutional meeting for strategy to develop the sub-sector.
“The President of Rwanda has always been part of Rwanda Day in any part of the world bringing all Rwandans together and to interact with the dynamics of the country.
“This forum formation led to the emergence of strategic investment that wants to be implemented in Rwanda and which triggers members of the Diaspora and also investors or economic operators in their host country.
“They are mobilised to embrace Rwanda economic dynamics and the opportunities that are there,” he said.
According to him, the diplomatic mission and embassy also have a clear directive to attend to members of the Diaspora.
“When they come to us we have a lot of programmes to ensure that all their needs are met and ensure that they invest in their host countries.
“The most important is to ensure that any Rwandan living outside the country enjoy the same right as those in the country, they gradually felt to be part of the nation not as it used to be in the past,” he said.