Kindly permit a space to respond to a statement credited to one of our nation’s emerging politicians and technocrat in person of Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor, and also an academic in the United States. In the statement issued by the former central banker, he urged the National Assembly not to only pass legislation for Diaspora voting, but to also fast track such legislation!
In the said statement, the former central banker stated: “Nigerians living and earning their living abroad is not a crime. It is their right. Their citizenship shouldn’t be denigrated because of where they live”. As Moghalu stated that Nigerians living abroad is their choice, thus, they need to bear the consequences it comes with, i.e. losing the privileges of living out of the shores of one’s country. As they say, “you can’t have your cake and eat it all”. They either live in Nigeria, and have their right of voting, or live out of Nigeria and unfortunately lose that right.
Moghalu, as a financial expert and a prudential one at that, why are you not advocating that Nigerian community should be paying their due share to the Nigerian state i.e. by paying taxes to the Nigerian state and for the progress and development of Nigeria? The most appropriate and decent route for Nigerians in the Diaspora to have their voting rights while still in foreign land is by encouraging the Nigerian state to introduce taxation for all Nigerians, irrespective of where one resides. By this, Nigerians in the Diaspora will put eyes on how their hard earned money has been spent by the Nigerian authorities.
One important issue in this Diaspora is the definition of who is in the Diaspora and who is not? From the advocates of Diaspora voting, what one is made to believe is that one in the Diaspora is only those that live in Europe and or North America. Those Nigerian citizens that are residing in say Niger Republic, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Chad, etc. are not regarded and or considered to be in the Diaspora because they are residing in African countries!
This narrow mind set of our new generation technocrats’ politicians is the new paradigm in our nation’s politics. It is quite unfortunate that people like Moghalu will descend so low like this on the assumption that this path of
‘diaspora voting” will salvage their new political career! They tend to forget that lots of the so-called Diaspora cannot vote in the clime they are residing due to various charges of felony against them.
One important issue to be addressed on the “diaspora voting” is that of legality involved. For example, lots of Nigerians residing in the United States, Canada, and Europe can be prohibited from voting due to one criminal offense or the other. Would Moghalu and his co-travelers on this diaspora voting accept that verdict on their country’s fellow citizens? Which will surely reduce the bounty Moghalu is anticipating from the ballot boxes.
A classical issue that Moghalu insisted on letting the Diaspora community vote is that of remittances to Nigeria. According to Moghalu, “If the Central Bank of Nigeria can woo Diaspora remittances, we need to woo their votes too.” Remittances to Nigeria do not favour the Nigerian state in sustaining foreign reserve, but the benefit is more to the families, friends, and or relatives of the Diaspora community than to the Nigerian state. Let the Diaspora community hold their remittances and see who will blink first!
Moghalu’s call for “diaspora voting” is a presumed short-cut to political power which will not take him or any of his co-travelers to the political victory they are anticipating or dreaming of. Moghalu, rather than taking this unholy path, kindly take the real path of rebuilding Nigeria in which every and all citizens will be living in harmony and tranquility, with no urban vocal minority lording or attempting to lord it on others through the back door. Thus, start advocating prudential probity at all governmental levels. Advocating taxing Nigerian Diaspora community is a first and good step, sir.
Abdullahi writes via @ [email protected]