From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan, has expressed optimism that Nigerians anywhere in the world would soon be able to freely exercise their franchise once the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is through with the enabling bill.
This comes a day after former President Goodluck Jonathan threw his weight behind those calling for electronic voting, saying it would not only ensure the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but also make elections in the country credible.
This is also coming following the recent call by Chairman of INEC, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, urging the National Assembly to expedite action by amending sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) to make way for Nigerians living outside the country to participate in the electoral process and vote.
According to a statement by Gabriel Odu, of the Media, Public Relations and Protocol Unit, NIDCOM, the Senate President spoke during the official presentation of a compendium entitled “+600 Diaspora icons at 60” by Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and Management Staff in Abuja.
He gave assurances that the 9th Senate will ensure Bills that are people-centred are considered and passed.
Sen Lawan’s position was corroborated by Deputy Senate President Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, emphasising that the National Assembly is working with the INEC to put mechanisms that will ensure Nigerians anywhere in the world exercise their freedom to vote.
Sen Lawan restated the Assembly’s commitment to the welfare and well-being of Nigerians living anywhere in the Diaspora.
He commended the doggedness, passion and determination of the NIDCOM boss in bringing diaspora issues to the front burner right from her days in the Parliament and now as Chairman/CEO, NIDCOM.
The Senate President promised to support NIDCOM in its enormous task of engaging the Diaspora especially with the adoption and ratification of the National Diaspora Policy in tandem with Nigeria’s Foreign Policy.
Presenting the compendium, NIDCOM boss Abike Dabiri-Erewa said it is a compilation of extraordinary and exceptional exploits of Nigerians in the Diaspora in different sectors, though the list is endless.
She further said NIDCOM is primarily building trust with the Nigerian Diaspora global community to fast track investment back home through various Programmes.
Dabiri-Erewa added that the National Diaspora Investment Summit has attracted over 300 Nigerians investing in different sectors of the economy.
Other Programmes of the Commission, she added, include Diaspora Door of Return, Diaspora Data Mapping, Diaspora Portal Mechanism, Diaspora Lecture Series, Annual National Diaspora Day, and appointment of 33 Diaspora Focal Point Officers across the states, among others.