June 12: Stakeholders canvass for more participation of Diasporans in democratic process

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A cross section of stakeholders across the globe have canvassed for more inclusion and participation of Nigerians in the Diaspora in the democratic process in Nigeria.

This was a major highlight of a two-hour webinar facilitated on Saturday by Nigeria-American Public Affairs Committee (NAPAC) and Nigerian Think- Thank Group in conjunction with Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

Speaking on the theme of the webinar, a former British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright commended President Muhammadu Buhari for being on the path of democratic progress with a lot of improvement in the years to come.

Arkwright, who was one of the panelists, however listed four areas of improvement to include increase in representation of women and youth in democratic process in Nigeria., reduction in take home pay of National Assembly and Political office holders, reduction in the influence of money in Politics and adequate representation of all ethnic groups, especially the minority groups in the electoral and democratic process.

Commending the role of NIDCOM so far, the envoy emphasised the role of the Nigerians in the Diaspora and their contributions to national development, stresing that they must be involved in the democratic process.

Speaking in the same vein, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said the Commission will continue to engage the diaspora, particularly women and youth, stressing that the recently approved diaspora policy provides a holistic map for constructive diaspora engagement.

She echoed the need for diaspora voting, adding that the issue was exhaustively tabled at the recent Public hearing on Constitutional amendment.

The NIDCOM boss also advised Nigerians living abroad to speak well about the country, and join hands with the government to contribute their quota to national development.

In her contribution, Dr Veronica Ufogbure, Chair of NAPAC stressed the need to lift Nigeria up, and participate actively in the electoral process as being done in the US and other European countries.

She, however, listed eight areas of interventions which include security, conversation, misinformation, trade, wired fraud and corruption, election process participation, I.T expertise and creation of a Global Nigerian Diaspora Think-Thank group among others.

In his presentation, one of the children of Chief MKO Abiola and winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Abdulmumin Abiola, reiterated the fact that Nigeria is a great country and everyone must participate in the democratic process.

Abiola, who clad in his father’s June 12 insignia dress, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for recognising June 12 as democracy Day after 25 years of the annulled election, urging Nigerians not only to participate in the democratic process but to hold the leaders accountable.

Bayo Adedosu, a resident in Canada, stressed the need for Nigerians to show patriotism, while calling on leaders to be accountable.

Tony Isama commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s massive strides in infrastructural development while calling for collaboration among the numerous diaspora groups

Other speakers Audu Maikori, Dr Nelson Aloya, Bolaji Lewis and Stephen Akinfodu commended the Buhari administration ‘s recognition of June 12 as democracy Day and urged Nigerians in Diaspora to leverage their influence, time and resources to contribute to the growth and development of the country.

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