By Diana Omueza
Mr Malik Addo-Ibrahim, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) Presidential Candidate, has expressed concern about delay in use of Diaspora voting in the country.
Addo-Ibrahim expressed the concern in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the delay in conclusion of plans to enable Nigerians in Diaspora to exercise their franchise in the 2023 general elections was worrisome.
He said the relevant stakeholders, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly were not doing enough to actualise the plan.
“If it is preparedness, we are not prepared, we can talk about the Diaspora issues but if we want to do it in the next election, we need to start preparing now.
“We need to get data, proper data on who is outside, if they are really Nigerians.
“The embassies need to be ready so that they can accept their voting at the embassies and so we can do it in a way that credibility put into the system,” he said.
Addo-Ibrahim said that Nigerians in the Diaspora also needed to play their part to ensure inclusion in the electoral process.
He said they should begin to visit the embassies at their countries of residence and provide necessary personal data.
“You must make sure that when somebody, a Nigerian goes out of this country and is living in the Diaspora, he goes to register or she goes to register with the embassy.
He said it meant: “Showing that I’m here, am living here, here’s my passport, my details, my birth certificate and all these things they need to do.
“Provide their NIN number, BVN and whatever they need to provide, including the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) to register to vote at their locations.
“And these are things that must be planned in advance.”
He also advised them not to wait until political moment to begin to clamour for participation in the electoral processes.
According to him, the Diaspora should be clamouring to vote from the day after the next elections for them to be able to vote in the following election.
Addo-Ibrahim called on the National Assembly to expedite actions on the Electoral Act to ensure inclusion of Nigerians in diaspora in the 2023 electoral process.
“Again we need technology to be able to do that; look at how long it took to get the electoral bill passed for INEC to be able to transmit information electronically.
“Diaspora voting is a must; it happens in other countries.
“But if the legislative does not play its part in amending what needs to be amended, then we may not have this inclusion that the Diaspora is clamouring for,” he said.
The YPP presidential candidate lauded the zeal of Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in the 2023 elections and the willingness to return home to foster the growth and development they see and enjoy outside Nigeria
According to him, people outside see inside, they understand why they left here for a better life and they want to come home.
“Nobody wants to go and stay there, because we are judged in so many things before they even hear our voice or the content of our souls or hearts outside the country.
“Nigerians are willing to return to be a part of the transitioning of Nigeria because they have gotten the required skills and capacity to foster growth and development in Nigeria.’’
He expressed gratitude that the citizens abroad had become Doctors, teachers, and they are the best.
“Nigeria graduates in Europe and America are at the top of their class, we are the most educated Diaspora segment of any country you go to.
“Nigerians are at the top,” he said.
He advised the government to begin to see Nigerians in Diaspora from the ownership lens as potential builders of Nigeria.