The Nigerian government is intentionally delaying diaspora voting because they seem to be afraid that diaspora participation may bring sanity into our elections. It will be difficult to make diasporans sell their votes. Rather, they will critically assess candidates before voting. It may also be difficult to rig diaspora votes.

The government is not comfortable with smooth elections. There must be loopholes left for rigging. People must be killed for some persons to enter into offices. 58 Nigerians were killed in the 2019 Presidential elections. Over 100 of us were killed in the 2015 elections. 400 of us were killed in the 2011 elections with thousands injured. The blood of ‘monkeys and baboons’ flowed.

Why is President Buhari intentionally delaying the signing of the ammended electoral bill approved by the 8th assembly over a year ago?

We must know that delay in constituting board members for the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM is also connected to these other delays. If the board is formed, the 12 diasporans that shall be included may put pressure on government on issues of diaspora voting and other questions of welfare. They could demystify other factors militating against the advancement of NIDCOM. They are scared of this. Today’s terrible Nigeria seem to be the dream of our present crop of Nigerian politicians.

APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomole previously derided Labour Minister Dr Chris Ngige and the Minister of Aviation for delaying the formation of board members in the parastatals under their Ministries but continue to remain silent now that there is an intentional delay of over one year in constituting NIDCOM board.
Do we need an Anthony Joshua to prostrate before this is done?

Delay in signing the ammended electoral bill is a direct support for the bloody elections that characterized the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. The upcoming Edo and Ondo state elections will also be senseless and horrible because delay in signing the ammended electoral bill is to make our elections so. When people come into office through flawed elections, they will prefer to take actions that will sustain flawed elections especially when it will improve the chances of their political party above national interest.
Only the APC can better define what their ‘Change’ mantra really means. What has truly changed? Diaspora voting is an excellent opportunity to display innovation in governance.

Whoever tells you that the process for diaspora voting is a big deal, is only lying to you. Pure lie! It is as simple as somebody standing up to move a motion for the bill. The next step will be the ammendment of the provisions of Section 13 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act, 2006, as amended and sections 77 (2) and 117 (20) of the constitution to enable diaspora voting. What is the mystery about that? It is already over a year since the 9th assembly was established. It is over 5 years since President Buhari has been in office.

The imperative of the enacted Nigeria Diaspora Commission Act in Official Gazette No. 67, Vol.104, NIDCOM Act is, among others, to ‘provide for the engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the
development of Nigeria’. If so, why the artificial impediments?

Our African friends make a mockery of us that we pride ourselves as the giant of Africa, yet not giant enough to put in place simple electoral policies to ensure diaspora voting just as other African countries like Senegal, Kenya, Benin, South Africa have done. The denial and conscious disenfranchisement has become a continuing source of embarrassment to Nigerians in diaspora. It is not enough to continually applaud diaspora remittances.

Now that there is enough time for the Nigerian government to work towards ensuring that Nigerians in diaspora cast their votes
in the 2023 elections, they seem to prefer a continuing delay of the process. This is against national development. By word of mouth, the Nigerian government is tactfully renewing hopes and promises towards diaspora voting. Rekindling hope is part of the game. The actual plot will unfold itself towards the end of 2021 or early 2022. At that time, they will come up with a new ridiculous excuse that the time is too short to accomplish diaspora voting in 2023! Then it will appear as if they did not waste over 2 years promising upon promising.

Apart from diaspora voting, under normal circumstances, parliamentary seats ought to be allocated to diasporans as a way of bridging the gap and infusing lessons learned from sojourning in other countries. Countries like Cape Verde reserves 6 out of its 72 parliamentary seats to its diaspora; Angola allots 3 out of 220 seats, while Algeria allots 8 out of its 389 parliamentary seats. Nigeria could do better if there is a genuine patriotic political will. Government could even consider diasporans for the position of Minister of state for Foreign Affairs.

As simple as it sounds, some persons will later on inform us that it is not as easy as I have just stated. That is a bigger lie. Ask them what the mystery is about and you will catch them napping.

It was easy for federal legislators to move motions for anti-social media bill, hate speech bill, anti-generator bill, infectious disease bill and that interesting law that attracts a fine of N2m if you transport a corpse without permission. If they are sincere, why is it difficult for them to present a simple bill for diaspora voting?

Diaspora voting is a dream that may never come to reality with the current government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.

Article submitted by Frederick Odorige (Global Coordinator, Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria).


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