Ever since Nigeria returned to a democratic government in 1999, major decisions shaping the country’s history have been determined by the leaders elected into power. This in turn implies that the country’s future is hinged on the electoral process, where citizens cast their votes and choose the leaders who should lead them as a nation.
For this reason and more, Nigerians living in the Diaspora have resolved to be a part of the 2015 general elections regardless of their location and have put forward a petition to the Federal Government.
At the 2012 Convention of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation in the Americas (NIDOA) – the umbrella organization for all Nigerians residing in North and South America, including the Caribbean – held at Holiday Inn, Arlington, Virginia; they put up a resolution to back the petition with one million signatures.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari said at the convention that even though he was fully in support of the bill on Diasporan voting rights, he believed the 2015 election was so important to the peace and stability of Nigeria that the government might not be willing to experiment with allowing Nigerians abroad to vote.
That remark attracted reactions from Nigerians at the venue who, in their various contributions, insisted that allowing Nigerians abroad to vote was long overdue, and government ought to have been making preparations toward that since the call predated the current administration.
Chief Temitope Ajayi, Chairman of Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment Programme (NAAEP) disagreed with the view that voting by Nigerians abroad in 2015 may affect the integrity of the election, adding that such votes may even be more credible.
Ajayi said for instance, Nigerians living in US do not only have their passports, but also have social security numbers, which could aid easy identification and prevent multiple voting.
She said even though they live outside the nation’s shores, remittances from Nigerians abroad had not only been keeping their relatives at home going, such huge remittances had also been contributing to the development of Nigerian economy.
Secretary, Board of Trustees of NIDOA, Chief Gabe Okoye, therefore moved a resolution that a petition signed by one million Nigerians based abroad be sent to the Federal Government to demand their rights to vote in 2015 election. The resolution which was unanimously adopted also included that each signature should be accompanied by $1 donation, which would amount to $1million, to help facilitate lobbying for the realization of the voting rights.
Okoye said the petition to be signed would be posted online for Nigerians In the Diaspora to append their signatures.
The points raised here are definitely valid. However, Nigeria is still far from conducting free and fair elections within its shores, how feasible would it be to conduct the elections outside the country?
The general elections in Nigeria is already fraught with a number of problems and inconsistencies. Votes cast in the country are almost always contested with allegations of rigging which sometimes follows with violent protests and clashes among different groups.
But all these happen within Nigeria; elections to determine Nigeria’s leaders have never been conducted outside its shores. Is it right to say that Nigeria is ready to conduct elections outside its shores?
Are you a Nigerian living abroad? What do you think about the arguments raised here? Do you want to vote in the 2015 General Elections? And if yes, why?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: Thisday