Nigerian Presidency And INEC To Work Together Towards Actualizing Diaspora Voting

The dream of Nigerians Living Abroad to participate in country’s electoral process may have received some boost as the Presidency and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have agreed to work on the technical areas of developing a policy, when the legal encumbrances are eventually removed.
The indication came today when the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, received the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in Abuja, Thursday.
The INEC Chairman said the Commission had long begun the process of developing guidelines, regulations and policy in anticipation of an amendment to the legal framework to enable People Living in the Diaspora, vote.
He, however, regretted that the issue of Diaspora voting was not included in the recent constitutional amendments by the National Assembly. He said: “the problem basically is the legal environment, election is a legal process but we made submissions to the National Assembly for Constitutional and Legal amendments to make Diaspora voting happen. But unfortunately, it’s not part of what the NASS submitted in the case of constitution amendment to the states for concurrence”.P
Professor Yakubu told his guest that: “Working with you, I’m sure we will be able to push for the relevant amendments to the existing laws. Specifically, there are two areas in the law where we think amendment is necessary; the first one is Sections 77(2) of the Constitution which restricts registration and voting to persons residing in Nigeria. So, in other words, Nigerian Citizens residing outside the country cannot vote.
“But there is also section 134(2) which talks about the threshold for declaration particularly for presidential elections, majority of votes and then the spread a quarter of the votes in two third of the states. So will Diaspora constitute another state or what will Diaspora constitute for the purpose of presidential election, this will also have to be looked into”
“But there is also section 134(2) which talks about the threshold for declaration particularly for presidential elections, majority of votes and then the spread a quarter of the votes in two third of the states. So will Diaspora constitute another state or what will Diaspora constitute for the purpose of presidential election, this will also have to be looked into”
Commenting further on the issue of Diaspora Voting and INECs plans, the INEC Chairman explained that: We categorized this into two, we have the out of country voting and then we have the Diaspora voting and these are 2 different categories. Out of country, voting is basically for Nigerians on missions abroad, (members of the Foreign Service, members of the Diplomatic Corps that are posted out of the country, etc), then we have the Diaspora voting for Nigerians resident outside the country”.
Professor Yakubu called for support from the Presidency to expedite the legal processes as well as information on the records of Nigerians living outside the country.
Professor Yakubu called for support from the Presidency to expedite the legal processes as well as information on the records of Nigerians living outside the country.
Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa
Earlier, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa explained that the visit was occasioned by the many calls by Nigerian’s living outside the country to be included in the electoral process. She said: “everywhere we go, it’s about Diaspora voting. Nigerians in Diaspora are very eager to vote. We are talking about a group of people who this year alone, remitted 22billon Dollars to the Nigerian economy, we are talking about a group of professionals who wherever they go, are contributing to the development and progress of their country (Nigeria)”.
“I know that the key thing is to amend our laws to make it possible but, if we all sit down and say the key thing is to amend our laws and we don’t take that action, it’s not going to happen. So I’m here to appeal to the Commission that we can work together to put pressure on the National Assembly to make this happen,” she said.
It was agreed that a technical committee should be set up comprising staff of INEC and the Presidency to share experience and information that would be beneficial to the cause of actualizing on Diaspora Voting in the country.
“I know that the key thing is to amend our laws to make it possible but, if we all sit down and say the key thing is to amend our laws and we don’t take that action, it’s not going to happen. So I’m here to appeal to the Commission that we can work together to put pressure on the National Assembly to make this happen,” she said.
It was agreed that a technical committee should be set up comprising staff of INEC and the Presidency to share experience and information that would be beneficial to the cause of actualizing on Diaspora Voting in the country.

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