President Muhammadu Buhari has raised the hope of Nigerians abroad to participate in the country’s future elections as he endorsed diaspora voting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday.
Buhari said that he had nothing against diaspora voting provided Nigerians were able to prevail on the National Assembly to amend the nation’s constitution to make provision for it.
The president stated this at a meeting with the executive committee members of the Nigerian Community in Ethiopia (NICE).
Buhari, in a statement issued by his senior special assistant on media, Mallam Garba Shehu, said that he was in support of diaspora voting, but noted that a law is required to achieve it.
In a response to a request by the NICE leader, David Omozuafoh, that Nigerians in the diaspora be given the opportunity to vote in future elections, Buhari said: I have said it severally that I am not against it. However, you will need to convince the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws to make diaspora voting a reality.
On the conduct of Nigerians living in abroad, the president expressed concern that some of their actions had not projected the country in good light and urged them to change their ways and obey the laws of their countries of residence.
He, however, commended Nigerians in Ethiopia, noting that they had the highest concentration of professionals working in international organisations such as the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) agencies.
‘This is a correct representation of the Nigerian spirit of excellence and high achievement,‘‘ Buhari stressed.
President Buhari told the meeting that his administration remains committed to supporting and protecting all law-abiding Nigerians, at home and abroad, to succeed in all their genuine endeavours, appealed to all in the daspora to help achieve this by being good citizens and worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.
The president further charged them to be the best in all their legitimate engagements in their host country, reminding them that “while you are out in the diaspora, do not forget home as you represent some of the best human assets that Nigeria possesses.”
On insecurity, President Buhari said that his administration is determined to combat and defeat all acts of criminality, banditry and terrorism in the country.
He appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with security agencies, which are ready to defend and preserve the unity of the country.
The meeting, which was moderated by the chairman/chief executive officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, observed a minute silence in honour of Nigerians killed by Boko Haram terrorists on Monday in Borno State.
Buhari also assured Nigerians that their protection would continue to remain the priority of his administration as well as fighting corruption and bringing prosperity to them.
While speaking on economic matters and doing business in Ethiopia, the Nigerian leader said that he had been briefed on the challenges faced by some Nigerian companies with investments in that country, especially Dangote Group and Lubcon.
“I have directed the relevant ministries to take up these issues with a view to resolving all complaints amicably with the Ethiopian authorities,” he said.
He, however, challenged them to use their resources, skills and talents to facilitate the development of Nigeria.
In his remarks, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, Bankole Adeoye, highlighted the huge investments of the Federal Government of Nigeria in Ethiopia from independence through the embassy.
He described the Nigerian Embassy in Addis Ababa as one of the country’s missions in Africa with the largest diplomatic and residential premises.
“Nigeria has continued to live the saying that Africa is the centerpiece of her foreign policy especially with the many impacts in the AU, the United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UNECA), and Ethiopia as whole,” he said.
Adeoye commended Buhari for reciprocating the visit to Abuja of the former prime minister of Ethiopia given the country’s zeal to develop stronger ties with Nigeria.
He further extolled the president as one who has appointed the highest number of career ambassadors and attributed it to his flair for professionalism.
Similarly, Omozuafoh (NICE president) commended Buhari for establishing NiDCOM and his continuous leadership and contributions which have cemented Nigeria’s role as a central player in strengthening AU.
Omozuafoh appealed to the federal government to fast-track the implementation of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the UN on Junior Professionals’ Programme to allow young Nigerians access to opportunities in international organisations.
“Similar opportunities should be explored with the UN Volunteers Programme, the AU Volunteers Corps as well as the ECOWAS Youth Volunteer Programme,” he said.
Source: The Leadership Newspaper