The president of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in New Jersey, Adeola Popoola, has urged federal lawmakers to pass the National Assembly to pass the Bill for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Diaspora Voting, and for Related Matters.
Mr Popoola made the call in an interview in New York on Friday.
”The National Assembly should, as a matter of necessity and with urgency, pass the staled Diaspora Voting Bill. The bill has already passed four National Elections cycles,” he said.
The NIDO official said one in two Nigerians in the U.S. planned to have their “voices represented” by proxy voting, even if not counted in the 2023 elections.
“This brings to front that most diaspora Nigerians feel disenfranchised and marginalised, that the country they hold beloved and spend significantly towards, by sending money, words and acts, will deny them their rights,” Mr Popoola explained.
He added, “Is it right time to head to court on this? Several individuals and groups have counted on NIDO Americas to alert our government, before they will individually seek court injunctions on this human-rights deprivation and isolation.’’
He said Nigerians living abroad had supported those at home in electing their expected leaders, noting that more diaspora money has flown into the Nigerian economy this month because of the elections.
In 2022, the National Assembly overwhelmingly voted against the bill. Figures released showed that 29 senators and 58 members of the House of Representatives voted in support of the bill, which sought to allow Nigerians to register and vote in their country of residence during elections. Sixty-two senators and 240 reps voted against the bill.
There were high expectations that the Diaspora Voting Bill to amend sections 77 and 117 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in the electoral process, would be passed by the National Assembly when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) threw their weights behind it.
NAN reports that the Chairman of the Committee on Diaspora, Tolulope Shadipe, has promised to reintroduce the diaspora voting bill to accommodate Nigerians living abroad.
Ms Shadipe, representing Oluyole federal constituency, stated this when NIDCOM chairwoman Abike Dabiri-Erewa, appeared before the committee.
Ms Dabiri-Erewa was at the National Assembly to defend the commission’s 2023 budget and 2022 budget performance. Ms Shadipe said the National Assembly rejected the bill during the constitutional amendment exercise.
She said the bill for the diaspora voting would pass this time because that is the direction the world is going, and Nigeria must not be left behind.
“We would be back with the bill. They are Nigerians, and they have the right to vote in Nigerian elections,” Ms Shadipe added.
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