President Jonathan promises more recognition for Nigerians in Diaspora
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said the Federal Government will put all machinery in motion to ensure that Nigerians in diaspora can vote during elections that follow the 2011 general elections. The President has also assured that more distinguished Nigerians in the diaspora will be considered subsequently for inclusion in the National Honours list.
He gave these assurances, Tuesday, while addressing members of the Nigerian Community in Gabon, at the residence of the Nigerian ambassador in Libreville. The President was in Gabon for the 50 th independence anniversary celebration of that country.
Responding to various questions and comments from Nigerians at the occasion, President Jonathan noted that while it may not be feasible for Nigerians in the diaspora to vote at the forthcoming 2011 polls, trends in modern technology like the electronic voting system have simplified the voting process and assured that Government will ensure they exercise their franchise in subsequent elections.
On the quest for the inclusion of Nigerians in diaspora in the National awards, President Jonathan said the Justice Belgore-led National Awards Committee will henceforth consider more Nigerians in diaspora in the Honours list, through nominations from the various missions of the country abroad. The President also disclosed that he will accord special recognition to 50 Nigerians from various walks of life as part of Nigeria's 50 th independence anniversary celebration in October.
President Jonathan particularly praised Nigerians in Gabon for their meaningful contributions to the economy of that country and assured that Government will look into all consular issues affecting them, especially complaints of high cost of resident permits and visa fees, difficulties in acquiring the ECOWAS e-passport and illegal immigration by other nationals to Gabon from the coast of Nigeria. He promised to discuss these issues with President Bongo when they meet at the UN in September, including a possible one-day state visit to Gabon.
On technical aid, President Jonathan said Nigeria will do more to assist other African countries in need of technical assistance. He also promised to send the technical aid corps to Gabon.
President Jonathan noted the mammoth crowd of Nigerians in Gabon that came to welcome him at the airport when he arrived Libreville on Monday evening, saying he was overwhelmed by their show of solidarity. He said President Bongo spoke well of them and their invaluable contributions to Gabon, while he urged them to continue to be good ambassadors of Nigeria.
Contributing, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia, said Nigeria is back on the world stage in a record time since President Jonathan's assumption of office as Commander-in-Chief, as her relations with African countries and the world have become more robust than ever. He noted President Jonathan has been active at the global stage, engaging the world through participation at the G-8 summit, Africa-European Summit, visits to several African countries, and so on.
“In a record time, Nigeria is back on the world stage. President Jonathan is well known across the world. The world has great respect for him and for Nigeria,” he added.
In his own remarks, Nigerian Ambassador to Gabon, Amb. Samuel Aiyedoni, said President Jonathan's visit marks the beginning of reinforced relations between Nigeria and Gabon. “President Jonathan's visit has ushered in for Nigerians here a new era of hope as they are confident that Government is with them. It has provided a new impetus for them to work harder to rebrand the image of Nigeria here.”