NIGERIAN Diaspora Commission chairperson Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa has renewed her call for the National Assembly to enact a bill that would enable Nigerians in the diaspora to vote in whatever country they reside.
Estimates of the size of the Nigerian diaspora vary greatly and range from about 5m to 15m, covering practically every part of the world, with the largest populations found in the UK, US and South Africa. A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Dabiri-Erewa sponsored a bill to allow diaspora voting when she was the char of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs.
This bill was, however, defeated but Hon Dabiri-Erewa has not stopped campaigning for it and yesterday, when she appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, she reiterated her call. She also used the opportunity to urge legislators to amend the law to make electronic voting possible.
Hon Dabiri-Erewa said: “Diaspora voting is in your hands and I think it will be a legacy that you can leave. It does not have to be in 2023 but put a timeframe to when they can vote, as it is something we owe Nigerians in diaspora.
“The smaller countries are doing it so I see no reason we cannot do it and if the law comes into effect you can put the bill at the discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), so if they say you can do it in the UK, you go ahead and do it. I also think it will have a positive impact on voting in Nigeria, so we are also hoping that you are going to amend the law to make electronic voting possible”
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the bill could be modified to start off in a few countries at a time before taking off in other countries. She also urged the committee to intervene in the issue of diaspora remittances as there is a discrepancy between the World Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria figures.