ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) has advocated a review of Nigeria’s laws to allow political participation of Nigerians abroad in the general elections.
The President, IDC, Prof Mony Gold, made the call on Tuesday during a virtual town hall meeting.
The meeting was put together by the Global Nigeria Diaspora Forum for Presidential Candidates ahead of 2023 elections.
The IDC leader said it was regrettable that Nigerian citizens in the diaspora make economic contributions by their remittances that boost the nation’s economy but are denied political participation by voting.
He noted that the leadership of Nigerians in the diaspora was organising a series of 12 town hall meetings for presidential aspirants starting with Prof Kingsley Moghalu to get their commitments to actualising the long overdue diaspora voting.
Gold said the GNDF had written to leading presidential aspirants in the 2023 elections to make case for review of the extant laws to allow diaspora voting in future elections after 2023.
He observed that diaspora voting would harness the contribution of millions of Nigerians who would bring ideas for the socio-economic development of their homeland.
He said that Nigerians in diaspora had been excluded by structural and systemic inequities in Nigeria that had kept certain groups from having a fair chance at upward mobility for decades.
Gold said: “That is why we are appealing to all Nigerians around the world to assist in the removal of persons with leadership duties and the reorganisation of institutions that have contributed to injustice, instability, unfairness, and nepotism.
“Our economy will not grow continuously unless economic opportunities and gains are shared equitably among the citizens: workers, business owners, and business leaders.
“We can never abandon the bonds that tie us to our home country. Therefore, we must collaborate to remove barriers to voting and prepare folks to exercise their right to vote.
“Despite its importance, millions of Nigerians are denied access to this right in numerous countries throughout the world.”
He said that following extensive consultations amongst Nigerians in diaspora, their leadership had reviewed its strategy for political engagement which had been stretched into the transnational sphere.
Also speaking, a diplomat and former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu, who addressed participants at the inaugural forum pledged to drive a review to allow diaspora voting.
Moghalu, who is aspiring to contest the 2023 presidential election under the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) noted that it was unjust to exclude Nigerians in diaspora who sacrifice their earning to support the domestic economy.
He unfolded his economic blueprint to the diaspora audience and said that he hoped to leverage their expertise to ensure rapid economic recovery of Nigeria.