The House of Representatives has stated its readiness to reopen a bill introduced in the 8th National Assembly seeking to allow Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in Nigerian elections.
The House said since the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had expressed his support for diaspora voting, the bill would be revisited.
Buhari had on Tuesday said he was not against Nigerians in diaspora voting during elections. He noted that the National Assembly was required to pass relevant laws to give legal backing to diaspora voting.
The President had said this in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a meeting with the executive committee members of the Nigerian Community in Ethiopia.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, noted that issues concerning Nigerians in the diaspora was a concern to most leaders in Nigeria.
Kalu said, “The participation of (those in) the diaspora in our economic growth is huge. The amount of remittances from the diaspora to Nigeria has given us a lot of assistance in increasing the Gross Domestic Products of the country. So, to care for them and to look into what is their interest should be a priority.
“Inasmuch as we are not encouraging brain drain, we are saying that those who are there; who are gainfully employed should remember home. And if they are remembering home, we should also take care of what is their desire, especially when it is in line with international best practices.
“I was part of the diaspora in the time past and I saw my colleagues, when there was a national election in their various countries, going to their embassies to catapult their votes. And that increased their sense of patriotism towards their country. That made them to show more interests in the growth of their country because they are part of the selection process for their leaders.”
Meanwhile, members of the House have introduced almost 700 bills and 278 motions adopted in less than eight months. The 9th National Assembly was inaugurated on June 11, 2019.
Kalu said the bills were at different stages in the House, with some already at the committee stage, which precedes the third reading and passage.