The Nigeria Diaspora Voting Council (NDVC), on Wednesday, in Abuja, described as history in the making the Second Reading and passage of the Nigeria Diaspora Voting Bill at the National Assembly.
Mr Tolu Oluwatuyi, the council’s secretary, said this in an interview with our reporter while speaking on the Bill, which had just passed second reading at the National Assembly.
He said that when signed into law, the Bill will give Nigerians in the Diaspora the right to fully participate in the country’s electoral process by voting in elections from their countries of residence.
Oluwatuyi maintained that the NDVC would not leave any stone unturned to ensure that Nigerians in the Diaspora earned the right to vote during elections from where ever they area based across the globe.
He added that the Bill, sponsored by the council under the leadership of Mr Ade Omole, NDVC chairman, had involved a lot of financial sacrifice to get this far as Nigerians in Diaspora merited inclusion in the country’s elections, by voting from anywhere they resided.
The council secretary reiterated that Diaspora voting was best practice in modern democracy and that Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, could not afford to be left out, adding that it was for this reason that the council would not relent in its clamour until the Bill was passed.
He noted that whilst Nigerians in the diaspora, had clamoured for inclusion in the country’s electoral process, particularly voting from their countries of residence, for years, similar legislation earlier proposed were never allowed to thrive.
The NDVC secretary said the council saw the need to doggedly pursue the legislation to fruition as it would afford Nigerians in the diaspora the opportunity to contribute to the country’s electoral system and have a say on who governed them at home.
He added that the NDVC was instituted by Diaspora leaders and some Nigerians at home with a mandate to put in place necessary machinery that would work in tandem with resource persons, and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).
Oluwatuyi said the council was also working with major stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), members of the National Assembly, to mobilise human and material resources to achieve its objectives.
He expressed the council’s appreciation specifically, to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chairperson, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and House Committee Chairperson on Diaspora Matters and sponsor of the Bill, Mrs Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, for what he called unprecedented support and encouragement.
“It is our belief that as the National Assembly prepares for the public hearing and the third and final reading of the Bill, for its passage into lawand presidential assent, the dream of Diaspora voting, initially conceived as not achievable any time soon, may have just come into fruition,” he said.