Diplomacy/International

FG warns Diaspora Nigerians on political campaign funding

The Federal Government, through the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), has advised Nigerians living abroad to be wary of violating laws relating to political parties’ campaign funding ahead of the 2023 General Elections in the country.

The warning follows on the heels of a call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the media camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to disqualify candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi for violating the Electoral Act in respect of overseas funding for his political campaign.

The Tinubu camp had alleged that Peter Obi’s trip abroad was to source for $150 million from Diaspora Nigerians to fund his political campaign ahead of the 2023 polls.

Obi has been out of the country on his ‘Eight-Day-Eight-City Tour and Encounter with Nigeria Diaspora,’ which has seen him in the United States’ cities of Atlanta, Washington DC, as well as, in Canada, Germany, ahead of the 2023 General Elections.

Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, during the 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA) which held at the Nigeria Consulate in New York complex, Saturday, made the call advising the Diaspora communities to ensure that they observe the laws in their support for presidential candidates in the 2023 general election.

The meeting was themed ‘NIDOA Renaissance: Leveraging on New Generation Leadership.’

“I have been hearing stories that you are going to raise money for one person or the other person.

“Whatever you do, don’t break the laws of elections and funding in Nigeria. I think that is very important.

“I won’t encourage you to break any law relating to political funding; you know how it is operated in America.

“Ensure you observe the laws also in Nigeria.

“So as we move on, I can guarantee you that under this administration, we will continue to protect our Diasporans,” Dabiri-Erewa said

It would also be recalled that the National Chairman of Labour Party, Julius Abure, recently, inaugurated an 11-man Diaspora Committee to organise fund-raising activities in support of the Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi.

The inauguration also came a day after the party’s Diaspora support groups, in a media report, pledged to unveil a crowdfunding portal with a target to raise $150 million from Obi’s supporters in the Diaspora and N100 billion from those in Nigeria.

Dabiri-Erewa while urging the Diaspora community not to be disappointed as they would not be participating in the 2023 polls, also advised them to intensify effort to engage the National Assembly so that Diaspora voting could be passed into law.

“I know that you can’t vote in 2023, but don’t be disappointed.

“Rather, you need to work harder to lobby the National Assembly to make it possible for the Diasporans to be able to vote.

“However, you have the voice and use your voice to urge all eligible voters to cast their vote.

“I urge you, as the president always says three things; be good ambassadors, obey the laws of whatever countries you are and let us continue to be proud of you and what you are doing,” she said.

She assured members of NIDOA of the commission’s robust partnership.

Chairman, Board of Trustees of NIDOA, Tope Esan, said the organisation’s mission is to promote the spirit of patriotism, networking, and cooperation among Nigerians in the Diaspora for their individual and collective success in the countries of the Americas where they reside.

He said they are also on mission to mobilize the vast resources of manpower, technological know-how and wealth of knowledge among Nigerians in the Diaspora towards building a greater Nigeria.

According to Esan, the present board, after a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat) Analysis, identified a 3-pronged approach to the present challenges facing the organisation.

“The focus areas are NIDOA image redemption, strategic partnerships, giving back to Nigeria and growing NIDOA’s base,” he said.

Representatives of NIDOA from Sao Paulo, Brazil; Calgary, Canada; Washington, DC; Savannah, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Minnesota; New Jersey and New York were in attendance.

Meanwhile, reacting to the calls by the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu’s camp for the disqualification of Obi from the 2023 polls for allegedly flouting the Electoral act on foreign funding, the Obi-Datti campaign organisation described it as ‘desolate and baseless,’ even as it also expressed surprise that ‘all of a sudden, the structure-less and social media candidates are now the headache of the ruling party that they now had to fabricate and imagine things they want the electoral Commission to act on.’

The Tinubu camp had Friday, asked INEC to disqualify the LP candidate, Peter Obi in the 2023 General Elections for soliciting foreign funds to the tune of $150 million in order to pursue his political campaigns, which is against the tenets of the Electoral Act, as amended.

A statement issued by the Obi-Datti media office, Sunday, said it has become apparent that Tinubu’s group ‘is now scared of the structure-less Obi-Datti,’ as it further rubbished the allegations which accused the latter’s supporters of being ‘unlawful,’ while also assuring that Obi ‘can never violate any Electoral law of Nigeria.’

“All of a sudden, the structure-less and social media candidates are now the headache of the ruling party that they now had to fabricate and imagine things they want the electoral Commission to act on.

“Obi’s successful trip abroad which is ostensibly to sensitize and carry along Nigerians abroad on his upcoming agenda of rebuilding the country is open and transparent and not a fund raising.

”But we know why its discomforting some people, because they cannot meet Nigerians in Diaspora knowing that they contributed to their leaving the country in the first place.

“We have always said it umpteenth times that their own understanding of structure is the abundance of looted funds in their kitty that they plan to deploy on hungry Nigerian voters during the election to sway their votes.

“They know nobody has the kind of stolen funds they have and are always uncomfortable at anything suggesting to them that their opponents could match them.

”Obi did not go to beg for money but to sell himself and his mission to Nigerians outside the shores who are critical stakeholders in the Nigeria project.

“Since June 2022 that they deployed a lump of their loots to get the ticket of their party, the nation’s currency crashed and still battling for breath. And since then they have been mopping up foreign currencies ahead of the election to buy voters.

“The Media office therefore needs to educate them that Obi and his Running mate are knowledgeable duo who know the law and operates within it and who became what they are financially, politically and socially doing legitimate businesses. They have no bullion van history of questionable wealth and are ready and willing to be scrutinized.

“Just as Obi and Dotti backgrounds and antecedents are verifiable so also is their source of income before and now are unambiguous and auditable.

“Obi and Datti, reached where they are today in this 2023 journey giving no ‘shishi’ to anybody, because they are investing on the suffering Nigerians impoverished by the greedy leaders of the past who diverted public funds to their private and family pockets.

“We understand their predicament, the dearth of contents from their principal, the lack of what to market, using the ample opportunity provided by the campaigns and the resort to searching blindly for reasons to disqualify the people’s only hope for a new and better Nigeria.

“Suddenly, they are beginning to realize that the social media giant, the structure-less and inconsequential candidates, are in the heart of the people who are convinced by their pragmatic messages. In frustration and envy they are now desperately looking for all crooked ways to stop them.

“Finally, we like to advise all those in this school of thought that the old order that kept us down as a nation will still work, to read the writing on the wall and know that their time is up and that Nigerians are ready and determined to take back their county now,” the statement read in full.

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