Calls are getting louder: Alliance of Nigerian Organizations Abroad Demands the right of Nigerians Living Abroad to Vote- writes Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Reforms.
“The ability to vote as a Nigerian should not be considered a privilege but a fundamental human right of all Nigerians both at home and abroad. The Central Bank of Nigeria has continuously churned out figures on the billions of Naira being remitted home yearly by Nigerians in Diaspora. We strongly believe that Nigerians in Diaspora should not only be seen as “cash cows”. Our fundamental rights, as well as that of every Nigerian, should be protected” The letter stated further”
A collation of Nigerian organizations Abroad have demanded for the right of Nigerians living abroad to vote. The call is coming barely one week after President Jonathan stressed the contributions of the Nigerian Diaspora to national development and thanked them for all their efforts. The President mentioned that he has shown clear interest to the election commission (INEC) but that because of their independent nature, he cannot order the commission to make sure the Diaspora votes in the coming elections. Furthermore, he cannot make any definitive promise but assured Nigerian Diaspora of his support for the idea for at least the Presidential and Gubernatorial future elections (2015) for a start. He was responding to the question from Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, CEO Heritage Media Group and Editor-in-Chief of African Heritage Magazine who wanted to know from the president about possibility of voting rights for the Nigerian Diaspora in future elections in Nigeria knowing the relevance of this stakeholder group to the well being of every nation, using the Chinese and the Jewish Diaspora as good example. The president started this at an inter-active session with the international press in the conference room of Ritz Carlton Hotel Berlin on Thursday 19th April during a working visit to Germany.
In a letter to the Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Reforms, the All Nigerian Nationals in Diaspora, Central Association of Nigerians in United Kingdom, Nigerian Diaspora Alumni Network and Nigerians in Diaspora Organization clearly stated that “The ability to vote as a Nigerian should not be considered a privilege but a fundamental human right of all Nigerians both at home and abroad. The Central Bank of Nigeria has continuously churned out figures on the billions of Naira being remitted home yearly by Nigerians in Diaspora. We strongly believe that Nigerians in Diaspora should not only be seen as “cash cows”. Our fundamental rights, as well as that of every Nigerian, should be protected” The letter stated further”
“The coalition on behalf of all Nigerians living in the Diaspora, write to request that voting rights be extended to all Nigerians in the Diaspora As stipulated in Chapter III, Section 25(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria namely:
(a) every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria; Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria.
(b) every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or
any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and (c) every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.
They therefore submit and request that during the forthcoming exercise on the Constitution Review to be conducted by both Senate Committee and House Committee on Constitution Review, that Chapter IV of the above mentioned Constitution be amended to provide for one extra fundamental right – The Right to Vote and to be voted for. Simply stated, we submit that, “Every citizen of Nigeria, both home and/or abroad, after attaining the voting age, shall have the right to vote and to be voted for.”As such, we in Diaspora are being disenfranchised from being part of the electoral process that decides the political leadership of our nation state. The human rights of almost five million Nigerians are being compromised by denying us the right to participate in the electoral process of our great nation, Nigeria. As the national democratic
process has finally taken root, the need for all Nigerians to be a part of the electoral process needs to be put in place so as to ensure that we are all able to exercise our voting rights”