The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said there is no enabling law backing the Diaspora Voting presently.
The Commission made this public in a reply signed by A. Bello on behalf of its Chairman/CEO, Abike Dabiri-Erewa to a request made in the same regard by Emmanuel Ogebe, on behalf of US-Nigeria Law Group, Washington, US.
The group has challenged in its letter to Dabiri-Erewa: “If someone of your stature as former chair of the Diaspora Commission in NASS was unable to get the Diaspora Voting Bill through with both legislative chambers controlled by the ruling party, then it is likely lack of priority by the administration. I suggest therefore that you ask the president to re-present the bill as an executive bill if not already one”.
NIDCOM recalled that the National Assembly NASS unfortunately rejected the bill to amend the Constitution in order to provide for Diaspora Voting.
“For the rights to be fully established, it is necessary for due process to be followed and for all Stakeholders to lobby the parliament to do the needful.
“In response to your observation, it is important to bring to your attention the mandate of the Nigeriens in the Diaspora Commission to enable you to make a more informed and legal-based observation” the reply reads.
Bello quoted that according to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Act 2017, the mandate of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission is to “provide for the engagement of Nigerians in Diaspora in the policies, projects and participation (sic) in the development of Nigeria and for the purpose of utilizing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians toward the overall socio-economic, cultural and political development of Nigeria.”
The reply indicated that following the provision, the Commission has been a strong advocate of Diaspore Voting and the Chairman/CEO has continuously reiterated the importance and need for the involvement of all the Nigerian Diaspora in voting.
NIDCOM under the stewardship of Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa over the years has championed the cause of Diaspora Voting and defended the same even to the highest legislative arm of government, the National Assembly.
The reply reads in part: “Once the law is amended to provide for this, the Commission will not hesitate with all hands on deck and all machinery put in place to immediately bring about the implementation of the right of the Nigerian Diaspora to vote.
“On the delay of issuance of passport and visas and all Immigrations matters, it is worthy to note that it was the advocacy of the Commission that led the Nigerian Immigration to the issuance of 10 years Passport and Visa on Arrival Policies in other (sic) to mitigate the hardship of Nigerians coming home from the Diaspora. The Nigerian Immigration Service also graciously approved an immigration Officer/Desk to the commission to address such issues.
“With regards to the remittances, NIDCOM acknowledges the laudable efforts of the Nigerians in Diaspora for their immense contributions to national development through remittances. Thus NIDCOM has appreciated the Nigerians in Diaspora and is doing everything to celebrated them (sic) and bring to national consciousness”.
Bello pledged that the Commission would continue to execute its mandate effectively in accordance with our Establishment Act and the National Diaspora Policy.
He added that the body advised dialogue rather than threats in national discussion as Nigeria belongs to both those at home and the Diaspora, inviting the group to visit NiDCOM whenever its members are in Nigeria for better understanding of its mandate and activities.
The full letter is published below:
Dear Hon Abike Dabiri,
I am in receipt of NIDCOM’s response below. Thanks as always for your prompt and proactive response.
If someone of your stature as former chair of the Diaspora Commission in NASS was unable to get the Diaspora Voting Bill through with both legislative chambers controlled by the ruling party, then it is likely to lack priority by the administration. I suggest therefore that you ask the president to re-present the bill as an executive bill if not already one.
Secondly, I acknowledge the invitation to visit NIDCOM but unfortunately I have no immediate plans to travel to Nigeria. However as you usually accompany the President to the UN General Assembly, I am available to meet you in New York or Washington within 36 hours of your confirming a meeting.
My colleagues and I will confer and respond more fully to your letter below but I wanted to quickly explore the option of meeting here if you are around so we can better understand the encumbrances to Diaspora Voting which is far overdue and how to overcome the same.
EMMANUEL OGEDE (sic)
US-Nigeria Law Group
United States of America