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2023: Diaspora Nigerians speak on expectations as citizens elect new leaders

*Some foreign-based Nigerians say the 2023 General Elections are quite important to their fellow countrymen and women, as especially the younger population taken it ‘upon themselves to rewrite the history of Nigeria… a country filled with talents and resources, but has not utilised the resources to benefit citizens

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Some Nigerians living overseas, who are not have the opportunity to vote as the first phase of elections begins Saturday, February 25, 2023, have made diverse comments on this year’s General Elections.

These citizens affirmed that Nigeria is a country filled with talents and resources, but the West African country has not been able to “utilise their resources to benefit citizens.”

L-R: Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwankwaso

ConsumerConnect reports the Africa’s largest democracy and world’s most populous Black country is holding its first set of General Elections -Presidential and National Assembly (NASS) – Saturday, February 25, 2023.

Earlier, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had disclosed the 93,469,008 registered voters would determine who will be the country’s next President and Federal lawmakers.

In total, 18 candidates are running for The Presidency, the West African country’s highest office, with each of them promising the usual rhetoric of turning around Nigeria’s current dismal socio-economic situation, if voted into power.

Opinion polls have suggested three are leading the race for the popular vote — Bola Ahmed Tinubu (70), Atiku Abubakar (76), and Peter Obi (61) — the first election in which none of the leading candidates are former military commanders.

Elections amid socio-economic dislocations

Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, will step down amid a legacy clouded in shortcomings, corruption, stagnancy, and several white elephant projects leaving Nigerian consumers more frustrated and angry, The Peninsula report said.

The crucial 2023 elections come as the West African country grapples with a myriad of economic, social, and security problems.

For an oil and gas-producing economy, Nigeria is yet mired in fuel scarcity issues nationwide.

Rising unrest and attacks, especially in the Northeastern part of the country where the Military still battles with the terrorist group Boko Haram, rampant kidnappings, a struggling economy, climate change, high inflation, and a crash in the local currency have all left citizens in helpless situations, with little or no government solution, according to report.

Naira redesign, cash cum fuel scarcity

The latest Naira redesign project of the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and subsequent inadequate flow of the new banknotes from the commercial banks to consumers of financial products and services amid fuel scarcity again, have reportedly exposed the “monumental failure of the Nigerian Government to implement and adopt policies” they have formulated, report noted.

What foreign-based Nigerians say on 2023 polls

As Nigerians in the country lament the state of the proverbial ‘giant of Africa,’ those in the Diaspora who cannot return home to vote can only look on and hope the candidates of their choice win.

It is usually noted that foreign-based Nigerians have contributed immensely to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the country’s Budget Office, Diaspora remittances were among Nigeria’s top sources of non-oil Foreign Exchange (Forex).

Per data from the World Bank and the Budget Office of Nigeria, the Nigerian population in the Diaspora remitted $60.22billion in the last three years, boosting economic activities and the country’s external reserves.

Speaking on the ongoing polls at home, Chibuzor, a Nigerian living in Doha, said: “The 2023 elections are quite important to the people of Nigeria because the youths who have not taken part in an election have taken it upon themselves to rewrite the history of Nigeria.

“Nigeria is a country filled with talents and resources, but these have not been harnessed as they should. Nigerians are well-travelled and have seen how countries utilise their resources to benefit citizens.”

He noted though “many of these resources are present in Nigeria.

“However, due to bad leadership, we do not get what Nigerians deserve.”

For Chibuzor, the current situation in Nigeria is not palatable to Nigerians overseas.

He further remarked: “We have seen what a progressive nation is like and crave for it to be replicated back home.

“We are backing the youths back home to elect Peter Obi as the light that needs to shine in Nigeria.”

Adedeji, another Nigerian living in Doha, who had spent his childhood in Lagos State, Tinubu’s stronghold, stated he hopes the APC man (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) finally, gets to the country’s capital as President.

The Nigerian said: “Tinubu turned Lagos into what it is today, and many Nigerians from all over the country move to the state to become relevant or to make money due to the numerous business opportunities.

“If his legacy wasn’t good, why is Lagos so attractive?

“Even though we cannot vote from outside the country, Tinubu has to win because I believe he can turn the nation’s fortunes around and take Nigeria to where it should be, an influential state not just in name but in deeds.”

For some others in the Diaspora, free and fair elections are all they ask for, no matter who wins in Saturday’s Presidential election.

In his comment on the current state of affairs in Nigeria, Alozie Chimamkpa David rather said: “My major concern is the accurate reporting of vote counts, which may lead to questioning why in such an evolving technological and scientific world, Nigeria still adopts the manual voting system.

“Why can’t there be an infrastructure for the safe, transparent, accurate and correct transmission of votes under the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) before every election?”

Since 2021, Nigeria has been unable to benefit from the surging global oil prices, as oil production has fallen to historic lows and petrol subsidy continues to consume a larger share of the gross oil revenues, a World Bank review stated.

The World Bank projects the economy to grow at an average of 3.2 percent in 2022-2024.

Still, the growth outlook is subject to downside risks, including further declines in oil production and heightened insecurity, which translates to more hardship for the people.

Analysts say this election is a watershed moment not just for Nigeria but for West Africa and, indeed, the rest of the African continent.

The next President, they stated, has much to do to keep the country afloat and, hopefully, steer the country on the right path of advancement in the comity of nations.

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