By Daniel Idonor, just back from Gabon

ABUJA — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has said the Federal Government will continue to ensure that Nigerians in diaspora exercise their  right to vote during elections that follow the 2011 general elections.

He also assured that more distinguished Nigerians in the diaspora will be considered subsequently for inclusion in the national honours list.
President Jonathan gave these assurance 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 50th independence anniversary of that country.

Responding to questions and comments from Nigerians on the occasion, Jonathan noted that it might not be feasible for Nigerians in the diaspora to vote at the forthcoming 2011 polls.

But pointed out that the trends in modern technology like the electronic voting system had simplified the voting process and assured that government would ensure they exercise their franchise in subsequent elections.
On the quest for the inclusion of Nigerians in diaspora in the national awards, Jonathan said the Justice Belgore-led National Awards Committee would henceforth consider more Nigerians in the diaspora in the honours list, through nominations from the various missions of the country abroad.

The President also said he would accord special recognition to 50 Nigerians from various walks of life as part of Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary celebration in October.

Jonathan particularly praised Nigerians in Gabon for their meaningful contributions to the economy of that country and assured that government would 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.

Contributing, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia, said Nigeria was back on the world stage in a record time since Jonathan’s assumption of office as Commander-in-Chief, as her relations with African countries and the world have become more robust than ever.

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