By CHIJIOKE OKORONKWO
ABUJA- The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) says it will continue to engage the National Assembly on Diaspora voting.
NiDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said during the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, on Thursday in Abuja.
She said that the commission had discussed with both chambers of the National Assembly on the need for Diaspora voting, but its effort was not successful.
Members of the National Assembly recently voted against the Bill seeking to provide for for Diaspora voting in the Constitution.
“We engaged with committees on Diaspora affairs in the parliament both at the House and Senate particularly for Diaspora voting, unfortunately, we didn’t succeed.
“The National Assembly is still not interested in Diaspora voting, but we will not relent in continuing to engage with them because I believe and every person should know that the Diasporan should be able to vote.
“So, we hope that we will continue to engage with the parliament,’’ she said.
According to her, there is no controversy about Diaspora voting as a Diasporan is someone who is living legally in another country.
Dabiri-Erewa explained that an illegal immigrant that went through the desert could not be classified as a Diasporan.
The NiDCOM boss added that to be a Diasporan, one must be a legal resident with a name, address and evidence of tax payment in that country.
“And that will even help us in defining Diaspora for those who are worried, it is not because you ran to another country that you are going to vote, no, you have to be a legal resident.
“Don’t be worried that maybe some are more in number. With the data that we are compiling, no tribe is more than the other; in Sudan alone, there are about five million Nigerians there, that is the truth.
“So, with the data we are compiling, you will find that Nigerians of all tribes are all over the world.
“So, if Diaspora voting starts, it doesn’t mean that we will start at a go; it is left for INEC to decide. You can start with personnel, maybe, military personnel that are posted abroad.
“We have to vote, it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when it is going to start,’’ Dabiri-Erewa said.
She said NiDCOM would continue to engage the parliament on the issue.(NAN)