By Meshack Idehen
The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Ben Okoyen, has said that lack of reliable database is one of the factors delaying the implementation of Diaspora voting by Nigerians outside their homeland.
Okoyen, who said this when members of Legacy Initiative International Advocacy, U.S. chapter visited Nigeria House in New York, stressed the need for Nigerians overseas to be united so as to produce a reliable database.
The Nigerian envoy explained that the Nigerian Diaspora Commission was already in place, adding that getting the accurate database of Nigerians abroad was still a challenge.
“It is not as if it (Diaspora voting) is something that cannot happen now, it is important how we organise ourselves.
“This pronouncement has been made, the commission is in place, but how Nigerians organise themselves is important.
“For example, if you ask people to come and register, they would not come. For us to even have the proper database of Nigerians living in the U.S. or elsewhere is difficult. So it has to do with us.
“As you are coming now, if you tell us this is the population of Nigerians, we will be very happy to forward this information back home.
“That is an area that we need to do some extra job. Every organisation should work towards registering Nigerians and see how to get a database that federal government can also rely on,” he said.
He commended Nigerian organisations in the diaspora for their efforts to promote the good image of the country and their contributions to their homeland and host countries.
Okoyen pledged to partner with the organisation to enable the Consulate serve Nigerians better.
He promised to reach out to Nigerians wherever they are in the 20 states under his jurisdiction in the U.S., to enlighten them about issues at the Consulate and opportunities provided by the federal government back home.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Dr Ifem Orji, said the principal focus of the organisation was to unite the leaders of the two principal faith groups in Nigeria – the Christians and the Muslims.
Orji said this was being achieved through constant interactive sessions, inter-faith prayers, and coordinated positions on burning national issues.
“The Direct Home Remittance (DHR) put at more than $27 billion annually from the Nigerian Diaspora constitutes the second largest source of foreign exchange inflow into the national economy.
“Thus, Diaspora Nigerians deserve a voice in what happens at home and abroad that impact our collective humanity,” he said.
He pledged the association’s commitment to continue to foster peace and unity in Nigeria and among Nigerians all over the world.
Orji also pledged the association’s readiness to help the Consulate in creating a reliable database for Nigerians in the diaspora. (NAN)