The attention of the Association of States’ Diaspora Focal Point Officers (ASDFPO) has been drawn to a “Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for diaspora voting, and for related matters” which was voted down by the Upper and Lower Legislative Houses on March 1st, 2022 at the Constitutional Amendment Review Session (third reading) that held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, Nigeria.
2. We wish to state, unequivocally, that the rejection of this Bill has not only set back the hands of our nation’s democracy clock, but has disenfranchised a huge segment of Nigerians in the Diaspora who are, without doubt, necessary for, if not indispensable to, the socioeconomic development of our nation.
3 The importance of Nigerians in the Diaspora to national development was already demonstrated by the Buhari administration with the establishment (through an Act of the National Assembly) of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM)
4. And following this, virtually all the states in the federation now have Diaspora Focal Point Officers (some states have full Ministries or Commissions) to drive economic developments at the sub-national levels, which has been yielding the desired economic results for these states.
5. It therefore beggars belief that just when all hands are now on deck for the inclusion of Nigerians in Diaspora into the nation’s development matrix through specific tools such as the proposed “Nigerians in Diaspora Investment Trust Fund” by NiDCOM and several other policy instruments and programmes by the states, what the National Assembly had done and said in no uncertain terms, with the rejection of the Diaspora Voting Bill, is that this incredible critical mass of our people, whose collective annual remittances dwarfs the country’s annual budgets in most cases, do not matter in the overall socioeconomic and political scheme of things.
6. The Association of States’ Diaspora Focal Point Officers (ASDFPO) believes that the rejection of the Diaspora Voting Bill has not only sent a very wrong signal but a wrong step in the wrong direction. It is therefore our wish that this Bill would be re-represented for the right thing to be done.