Diaspora Voting: EX-NIDOE Boss, Gbandi Commends Okere On Proposed Bill, Says Nigeria Moving Closer To True Democracy

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By Owen Akenzua, Asaba

A renowned development consultant and 2023 Delta North Senatorial Candidate under the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Hon Chief Kenneth Gbandi, has commended the 10th National Assembly, precisely NASS Committee on Diaspora Affairs led by Hon Tochukwu Okere on profound commitment as his Bill on Diaspora Voting passes first reading Stating that Nigeria is moving closer to a true democracy.

Hon. Chief Kenneth Gbandi made this remark on Monday in a chat with Journalists in Asaba, Delta State capital

While harped on diaspora stakeholders engagement process for progress, he commended the legislators for being friends of diaspora Nigerian citizens.

He said” You could recall that Nigeria’s 10th National Assembly has taken another giant step towards realizing Diaspora Voting as Bill HB 1396 to Amend the 1999 Constitution Passes First Reading. Hon. Chief Kenneth Gbandi has seen this intentions as genuine, a profound commitment to understanding the intricacies of the diaspora landscape, its Challenges and its vast opportunities. The promising passage of this Bill is a promising start. It highlights the evolving nature of Nigeria’s democracy”

Hon. Gbandi, the Deputy National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress Party of Nigeria and a former Senatorial Candidate in Delta North for the 2023 general election further commended Hon. Tochukwu Okere for taking another significant step towards realizing diaspora voting.

According to him, this commendation comes as Bill HB 1396, aimed at amending the 1999 Constitution to make provision for diaspora voting as successfully passed its first reading.

In his words: “For this landmark move, the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has taken a significant step towards inclusivity by allowing Nigerians living abroad to participate in national elections as sponsored by Hon. Tochukwu Okere, the bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to Alter the 1999 Constitution (As Altered) to Make Provision for Diaspora Voting and for Related Matters” has successfully passed its first reading. This development marks a potential shift in the political landscape of Nigeria, ensuring that the voices of millions of Nigerians in the diaspora are heard”.

“As the longest-serving European Diaspora leader we must commend this Bill by the NASS. The legislators should make Diaspora Stakeholders’ engagement process very important for progress because they are friends of Diaspora Nigerians. The Bill seeks to allow Nigerian citizens living abroad to participate in national elections. The introduction and first reading of this bill signify an inclusive shift towards embracing the contributions and perspectives of Nigerian citizens worldwide. By ensuring that every citizen, regardless of their place of residence, has the right to vote, Nigeria is moving closer to a truly representative democracy.

“The Bill’s provision mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to develop comprehensive procedures for diaspora voting. This will include registration processes, secure voting methods, and rigorous verification protocols to ensure the integrity of the votes cast abroad. Moreover, the provision that diaspora votes will be counted separately ensures transparency and allows for an accurate reflection of the diaspora’s electoral preferences”.

A”s the Bill progresses through subsequent readings and discussions, it is expected to garner robust debate and scrutiny. If passed into law, it will not only alter the 1999 Constitution but also redefine the scope of electoral participation for millions of Nigerians abroad. The successful passage of this bill through the first reading is a promising start towards greater inclusivity and representation. It highlights the evolving nature of Nigeria’s democracy, one that recognizes and values the contributions of its citizens worldwide. As Nigeria continues to progress, the engagement and participation of its diaspora community could play a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future”.

” Hon. Sir Tochukwu Okere remarkable efforts and initiatives within a very short period as the Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs of the 10th National Assembly have ignited a sense of optimism among Diaspora stakeholders, himself included, as he demonstrates a profound commitment to understanding the intricacies of the Diaspora landscape, its challenges, and its vast opportunities. It is evident that his engagements and intentions are genuine, and his willingness to traverse extra miles for the betterment of the Diaspora community is unquestionable. For Diaspora Voting Bill HB 1396 to Amend the 1999 Constitution to Passes First Reading is a testament that Hon. Tochukwu Okere led House committe and the 10th National Assembly meant business for the Diasporans”.

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