The Independent National Electoral Commission as presently constituted has always spoken out on the need to provide for and accommodate Diaspora voting
It is the constitutional right of every Nigerian citizen who is 18 years and above to register to vote and be given reasonable opportunity to participate in the process of electing the political leadership of the country.
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One very important group of Nigerian are those resident overseas, many of who have investments and assets in the country, for which they pay tax to the federal, state and local governments taxes and levies.
These Nigerians in the Diaspora make huge remittances back home, to support members of their families, pay school and medical fees, acquire property and generally contribute to the economy.
Nigerians in the Diaspora have a 100% stake in the outcome of the 2019 elections. For this and other relevant reasons they must not be denied the right to participate in the process that would lead to emergence of the nation’s political leadership in 2019.
This, in a nutshell, is the kernel of the argument of the Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria (PMNN), which is led by Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, who has stridently made a case for the inclusion of provisions that would enable Nigerians abroad to vote in the 2019 general elections.
The group wants the National Assembly to ensure that necessary legal and budgetary requirements are made to make it possible for Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote next year.
It is instructive that in 2017 alone, Nigerians in the Diaspora remitted over $27 billion to Nigeria, as a former presidential candidate of the defunct African Renaissance Party (ARP), noted in a recent statement he issued to the media. It is therefore unfathomable that the huge population of Nigerians in the Diaspora, who are mostly “distinguished professionals in all areas of human endeavour are unpatriotically shut out of the electoral polity under a democracy.”
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It must be recalled that in 2007, a properly constituted
As you are no doubt aware a properly constituted court in Nigeria in 2007 had expressly held in a judgement that Nigerians in the Diaspora should be allowed and accommodated to vote and be voted for in the nation’s elections.
A full eleven years and two general elections after that judicial declaration Nigerians in the Diaspora are still disenfranchised. Democracy must be predicted on the Rule of Law and the present National Assembly in line with its avowed commitment to the observance of the Rule should ensure that Nigerians in Diaspora are expressly accommodated in the provisions and budget for the upcoming 2019 general elections
Fortunately, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as presently constituted has always spoken out on the need to provide for and accommodate Diaspora voting and here is an opportunity to demonstrate its genuine commitment to this noble goal. Incidentally about 21 African countries and over 150 other nations in the world allow own citizens in the Diaspora to vote in the elections.
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It is therefore my expectation that the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will ensure that Nigerians in Diaspora are allowed and accommodated to vote and be voted for in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
As the National Assembly gets set to deliberate on the INEC budget for the 2019 election, the distinguished senators and honourable members of the federal legislature should kind ensure that express provisions are made in the INEC 2019 Election budget to enable Nigerians in Diaspora to vote.
► Alhaji Yahaya Ndu, President, Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria (PMNN), wrote via email
Buhari, please don’t betray the trust of Nigerians
As a minister of God, I want this to serve as a wakeup call to the Nigerian political class, and the people at the helm of governance, to be very mindful of the severe economic hardships Nigerians are battling with at present. I want to plead with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government and members of his economic team headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, not to betray trust and enormous goodwill upon which this government rode to power. Therefore, there is great need for Nigerians to have understanding, mutual trust and perseverance for successful tenure.
I also want to remind President Buhari that time is no longer at his disposal, and he and his team should reflect the mood of the country and lead by example. They should showcase the practical change they promised in 2015 while campaigning for office and immediately depart from sloganeering.
Going by the situation in the country now, tough times don’t last, but tough people do. However, we cannot continue to moan over our lost opportunities, and as individuals and people, we need to find concrete solutions to our series of problems and march on strongly.
Also the government should take steps to reduce the pains and sufferings of Nigerians by dealing with high cost of foodstuffs, kerosene, diesel and the irregular supply of electricity among others, with a view to creating a more conducive enabling environment for life and economic activities in the country.
I also want to express my great concern with the alarming rate of unemployment in our society. This is a time bomb, hence, the need for governments-at-all levels to tackle unemployment and engage our teeming youths in productive activities. Therefore, enabling environment should be created for businesses to thrive, so that, more people can be meaningfully engaged.
I also call on all Christians, to continue to lift up the nation in prayers, at all times and support government’s efforts to make our nation place.
It goes without saying that all Nigerians need to exercise more patience and understanding, and continue to build bridges of tolerance and maintain their belief in the Nigeria Project.
Also, the religious leaders should speak and preach the true messages of God to the church and the nation and open the eyes of the people to the Biblical ways of life.