Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that plans are on to allow Nigerians in diaspora participate in the exercise.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this yesterday at a meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations who visited the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
Yakubu said Nigerians living abroad “have the right like their compatriots in the country to exercise their franchise in all elections organised in the country.”
However, before this can be actualised, he said relevant sections of the Nigerian constitution would have to be amended. Besides, some challenges that could emerge from allowing diaspora voting, such as funding and the modalities to be adopted would have to be addressed.
The Chairperson of the committee, Senator Rose Okoji Oko stated that the continuous calls by Nigerians in the diaspora to be given the opportunity to exercise their franchise and the favourable disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan to the idea, informed the committee’s visit to INEC.
According to her, the former president had endorsed the idea in 2010 during his visit to Gabon, while President Buhari also gave his support during a recent visit to Malabo.
The senator affirmed that 115 countries, 28 of which are on the African continent currently have provisions for diaspora voting. She admitted that some Nigerians were against the idea “because of what they perceived as funding challenges, the current position of the law on the matter and some fears about the electoral system.”