Nigerians living overseas may be on the verge of realising their dream of exercising voting rights during future elections in the country. This is because the National Conference delegates yesterday voted in favour of Nigerians in the diaspora to exercise their voting rights and participate adequately in elections. The Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters had explained in their report that in line with the provisions of section 13(1) C of the Electoral Act 2096 as amended and sections 77(2) and 117(2) of the Constitution of the country, which provided that only citizens present in Nigeria as at the time of registration of voters can register and vote in any elections. It said the provision had disenfranchised millions of Nigerians living abroad, who are vehemently seeking to exercise their voting rights as part of their fundamental human rights. The committee therefore recommended that the Electoral Act be amended to provide for diaspora voting rights so that Nigerians living abroad who are not less than 18 years before an election be allowed to register and vote. It also recommended that appropriate mechanisms should be put in place before its implementation to ensure that there are no abuses.
On the issue of the Diaspora Commission, delegates also approved the committee’s recommendation that the National Assembly be encouraged to speed up work on the passage of the bill setting up the commission. The role of the commission is to coordinate and interface between diaspora Nigerians and the government.
Delegates, while considering recommendations and amendments on the report of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters headed by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, voted in recognition of Nigeria’s membership of the controversial Organisation of Islamic Countries (IOC).