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.
…Assures Nigerians Of Improved Security
At home, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, has said that President Buhari has assured the leadership of the National Assembly that the incessant attacks by bandits would abate within a short period.
The president also promised that Nigerians would in a short while attest to a great improvement in the security situation in the country.
Benson stated this in Abuja when he fielded questions from journalists in his office in Abuja.
While giving an insight into the discussions between Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly, on one hand and the security chiefs on the other hand, Benson expressed optimism that the security crisis would be resolved in favour of Nigeria.
He said: “We are not folding our arms; I want to assure Nigerians that all hands are on deck to ensure that this matter is resolved in favour of Nigerians.”
In his response to a question on the resent resolution of the House, advising the security chief to resign from office due to the incessant attacks, Benson explained that Buhari pleaded with the leadership of the legislature to give him a short time, within which a noticeable improvement would be achieved.
“The bucks stops at Mr President’s table, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and a General in the Army who has fought wars. We are representatives of the people. When we resumed, lawmakers whose constituencies have come under siege have the constitutional right to present their cases before the House, with passion, emotion and empathy. The House agreed that a solution might be for the service chiefs to resign and new ones should come on board.
“Mr. President called for a meeting, and I think he appealed for time, gave his assurances and undertaken, that he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and that in a short while, we will see improvements. I think it also behoves on the House to give him that little bit and see what he can do within the shortest possible time,” he said.
Benson, who observed that the fight against insurgency had lingered due to the porous nature of Nigeria’s land borders, said that advanced technology was required to secure them.
FG Urged To Prosecute All Suspected Gunrunners
And to win the ongoing war against insecurity across Nigeria, the federal government has been urged to begin the prosecution of former governors and other citizens linked with cases of gun-running owners of illegal arms.
The appeal was made by a group, North Central Renaissance, which alleged that the security challenges in the North Central zone and other parts of Nigeria was due to the failure of the federal government to reopen cases of gun-running against some former governors and politicians in the region.
It particularly drew the federal government’s attention to some weapons the Department of State Services (DSS) found in the residence of a serving senator from Benue State in Maitama, Abuja and other politicians.
The group’s convener, Jerome Lan, recalled that in February 2017, the DSS while “acting on credible intelligence, searched and found some incriminating items stashed in the boots of a Mercedes Benz S550 (BWR 135 AH) and Masarati 47 (BWR 207 AJ) cars parked at the premises of Dunes Invest and Global Properties Limited located at 44 Aguyi Ironsi Way, Maitama, Abuja, a property belonging to a former governor of Benue State.”
Speaking on its search of the premises, the DSS had on Sunday, February 26, 2017, said that its operatives recovered some weapons and 21 Certificates of Occupancy (Cs of O) among others from two cars on the premises of a company, Dunes Investment and Global Properties Limited, Abuja.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its former spokesman, Tony Opuiyo, the DSS alleged that the Cs of O, weapons and other recovered items belonged to the former governor of Benue State.
The DSS said that it executed a search warrant on the company, which is located at 44 Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama, Abuja, between 9pm on Saturday, February 25 and 2.42am on Sunday, February 26, 2017 and recovered no fewer than 85 rounds of ammunition, one Glock pistol, a Submachine Gun, and one AK-47 rifle from the two cars on the premises.
While defending his call for the arrest and prosecution of the former governor and other suspected gunrunners, Lan said that his group’s action became imperative because of the large cache of guns and armoury in the hands of unlicensed individuals in the midst of growing security challenges in the country.
Lan argued in a statement he issued in Abuja, yesterday, that the federal government cannot claim to be fighting insecurity while unlicensed individuals alleged to be keeping large cache of arms go about freely in the society.
“The resurgence of insecurity witnessed in our nation in the recent weeks call for deep concern. The frequency in Boko Haram attacks, banditry and kidnapping points to the fact that there are several arms in the hands of criminals who have continued to use them to terrorise and kill innocent citizens. All hands must be on deck to check the inflow of these arms into Nigeria.
“These allegations cannot be wished away especially as the nation is confronted with insecurity. As a group that is concerned about the security and wellbeing of its citizens, we herein call on the relevant agencies to immediately reopen and investigate all alleged to be involved in fire arms illegally,” he said.