Dabiri-Erewa tasks NASS on passage of diaspora voting law

• Says US medical system may collapse if Nigerian medical doctors pull out

Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Tuesday, tasked National Assembly to enact a law on Diaspora voting in the bid to involve millions of Nigerians living in diaspora in governance.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa gave the charge during the 2019/2020 budget defense held at the instance of House Committee on Diaspora, chaired by Hon. Tolulope Sadipe, where she observed that the US medical sector may collapse if Nigerian medical practitioners pull out of the system.

The former Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora in the 7th Assembly, who observed that passage of the Diaspora voting bill remains a legacy yet to be achieved by the Parliament, underscored the need to provide opportunity for Nigerians living in various nation’s across the work to exercise their franchise in the choice of Nigerian leaders.

While noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is at liberty to conduct the pilot Diaspora election in about five countries, Dabiri-Erewa affirmed that Nigerians in diaspora contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of the country through annual remittance of several billions of dollars into the country.

She, however, underscored the need to put in place effective database of Nigerians living overseas with the view to determine the actual number of Nigerian Citizens, professionals as well as those in various prisons across the world.

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In acknowledgement of the Commission’s contribution to the well-being of Nigerians living in Diaspora, she called for deliberate legislation that will set aside certain percentage of remittances into the country, just as she harped on the need to address the discrepancies between the actual figure on Diaspora remittance issued by World Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“One of the major ways the commission has started working is on the issue of diaspora remittances. Some people are reaping from it and the highest remittances are from Africa. For example, in the case of the South African returnees, we were on the field but did not receive any kobo,” Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said.

She also unveiled plans to set up diaspora helpline desk with the support of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diaspora policy document adding that “tapping into the Diaspora can change a lot of things.”

While speaking on the funding of the Commission so far, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa disclosed only the sum of N100 million take-off grant approved by Mr. President is being utilized.

In her intervention, chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Hon Sadipe assured that the Committee would liaise with the Senate to ensure that adequate funds are appropriated for the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC), saying the N400 million earmarked by Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning was grossly inadequate.

She also expressed concern over the information bothering on the 23 Nigerians who were illegally dumped in Cote’D’voire prison, urging the commission to look into the matter.

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