Mr. Chairman sir, it is a known fact that the population of Nigerians living in the Diaspora is more than the population of many countries. In fact, the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora is more than the entire population of Ghana. However, it is unfortunate that despite the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora, there is yet to be an institutional framework for this population to take part in elections in Nigeria. 

About 135 countries in the world, including the United States of America, South Africa, Angola, Thailand, and the Central African Republic to mention a few, allow their citizens in the Diaspora to participate in general elections back in their home countries but the contrary is the case in Nigeria.

It is therefore imperative for me as a concerned citizen of Nigeria, who mean well for this country to draw your commission’s attention to the fact that we cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result and the need for your commission to rise to the occasion and stop disenfranchising our citizens in Diaspora. If this succeeds, your commission under your leadership will be remembered positively forever.
There is no doubt that it is the constitutional responsibility of INEC to put in place the relevant machinery in place to assist our Citizens to vote in Diaspora which is yet to be so and the time is ripe for Nigerians to give its citizens living abroad the opportunity to register and vote from abroad in any election in Nigeria, without having to travel back to Nigeria for the voting purpose. 

Considering the contributions of the Nigerian citizens in Diaspora in terms of socio-economic well-being of the country, it is important to state they should enjoy all rights owed to the country’s citizens for the following reasons:

1. The Diaspora pays tax indirectly to the state, through remittances sent to relatives at home via V.A.T for the commodities.

2. The remittances being brought by the country’s citizens in Diaspora are indeed a major source of foreign exchange.

3. The Nigerian Diaspora Community qualifies as the 37th state of the nation, considering, that it outperforms general bonafide states in revenue generation.

4. In 2012 - 2013, Nigerians in Diaspora remitted nearly USD 21 Billion, approximately N3.36 Trillion into the Nigerian economy.

5. The Diaspora enfranchisement is a national security and pride issue with ramifications beyond the numerical strength of the ballots.

6. Sections 77(2), 117(2), 132(5) and 178(5) of the 1999 constitution as amended affirms the right of Nigerians in Diaspora to vote.

7. As of today, some of our best and brightest Nigerians are living and working in every corner of the globe, especially in the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD).

Mr. Chairman, it is a recognised standard anywhere in the world, Nigeria inclusive, that persons of 18 years and above have the unfettered right to vote and as such are qualified to be registered as voters by the combined effects of section 77 (2) of the Constitution and relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2020, and the right to vote and be voted for is also guaranteed by Article 13 (3) of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Capt 10) L.F. N. 1990.

Therefore, it is apposite the necessary that your commission put everything in place to pave way for the Nigerians in Diaspora to be able to participate in electoral processes if Nigeria is not to be left out in the committee of nations.

I have gone through the relevant law and find that the fact that a Nigerian is living outside the shore of Nigeria does not prevent him from voting and being voted for.

Nigerians in the Diaspora should not be denied this God-given right to vote by consequently through the country’s actions and inactions, relegating them to the spectators’ gallery while it is evident that they play a critical role in our economy.

By 2007, there were 28 countries in Africa where external voting was exercised in one form or the other. By 2011, we had over 115 countries, including African countries, for example, Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritius, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chad, Guinea, Mozambique, Senegal, and Nigeria must join this league of nations where all citizens have a right to vote irrespectively of their country of residence.

Brief Statement Of The Main Points.

1. That Nigerians in the Diaspora are entitled to participate in the government of Nigeria by voting for the candidates of their choice pursuant to Article 13 (1) of the African Charter on Human and People Rights (ratification and enforcement act) laws of the Federation of Nigeria. 

2. That Nigerians in the Diaspora are qualified for registration as voters by virtue of sections 77 (2), 117 (2) 132 (5), and 178 (5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and other relevant sections of the Electoral Act 2022.

3. That the Commission and other related arms of government and or stakeholders should put all necessary things in place at ensuring the setting up of registration centers and polling units in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in all high commissions and embassies of the federal republic of Nigeria.

4. That Nigerians in the Diaspora are very entitled to be registered for the purpose of voting for their representatives in the government of Nigeria. 

5. That the Commission and other related arms of government and or stakeholders are obliged to make provisions to enable Nigerians in Diaspora to register and vote in the embassies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the various countries where they are. 

Thank you in anticipation of a favourable push to become a reality.

Olajide Abiodun
(Notary Public)

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