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Mavi Mudiaga: Share Your Thoughts on Voting by Nigerians in Diaspora

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Presently, in Nigeria, to be eligible to vote during elections, the voter must be eighteen years or older and must be resident in Nigeria. Voters who are of age but resident outside Nigeria (commonly referred to as Diaspora) can only vote during elections if they come back to Nigeria, register as voters in Nigeria, and vote for their chosen candidate(s) during the elections, in Nigeria.

Due to the longness involved in participating in such elections, some Nigerians in Diaspora have complained and called for the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, wherever they are located in the world. Several countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have such provisions in their electoral laws.

On 16 December 2013, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) called for the amendment of sections 77(2) and 117(2) of the Nigerian Constitution (CFRN), which presently restrict eligible voters in Nigerian elections to persons eighteen years or older And resident in Nigeria. With the proposed amendment, Nigerians aged eighteen and above resident both outside and within Nigeria shall be eligible to vote during general elections in Nigeria. This concept is known as ‘external voting’.

INEC has also proposed that external voting be permitted during the conduct of the upcoming 2015 general elections. Differing views, mostly from legal practitioners, have been expressed for and against the introduction of external voting in Nigeria.

Should Nigerians resident abroad be permitted to vote from their various locations? Is this proposal feasible and achievable by the time the 2015 elections come knocking on the door? Should this be INEC’s priority? What do you think?

Let’s talk about it.

For an analysis of the topic from a socio-legal perspective, click here.

Photo Credit: thehindu.com

Mavi Mudiaga is a Nigerian Legal practitioner, writer and recipient of several academic scholarships and awards. She holds a First Class LLB(Hons) from the University of Buckingham, and an LLM from the London School of Economics. She’s committed to the (re)education of people on trending legal issues

12 Comments

  1. Don Draper of Mad Men

    January 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    why do i have to come to Nigeria to vote? This just shows we are still living in the Dark Ages.

  2. Don Draper of Mad Men

    January 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Why do i have to travel to Nigeria to vote? This just shows we are still living in the Dark Ages.

  3. ms lala

    January 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    smh…you say it like our votes matter..what happens in Nigeria is selection not election….period. if the voting works in some states then we thank God but from what i grew up knowing…vote all you want but the right person will never be picked for the job.. am gonna sit my yansh in cali and sip some san antonio wine and call it a day

  4. Newbie

    January 8, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    On the face of it, it’s not a bad idea. Diasporans who desire to contribute to the progress of the country should feel like their voices count. Already, they count on internet media and so on, so this will take it a step further. Some may argue that it’s not a significant number of people, but didn’t they say ‘every vote counts’?

    It would be good to know how much this is intended to cost though, because e no dey hard before the thing will become somebody’s personal money-making machine! Hopefully they will make the general plans known to the rest of us.

  5. jcsgrl

    January 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Yes Yes Yes…as a Nigerian who was living in Nigeria during the last voters registration, I tried everything to register but to no avail. We already have the Nigerian passport system to use as verification. Once you apply for passport, you automatically indicate if you want a card and it should be mailed or printed for you. To vote, you can do electronically or by mail. shikena!

  6. larz

    January 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    my concern is the fact, that it can b abused. With adequate and stringent controls in place, then it shud be a hit

    • Newbie

      January 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Everything can be abused – particularly things pertaining to Nigeria. Question is – do the pros outweigh the cons?

    • whocares

      January 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      NO. The cons outweighs the pros. I can just see this system being overridden with corruption. We can barely conduct physical election talk less of one for citizens in diaspora.. If it was online the avenues for rigging would be too much. If it is by mail, how reliable is the postal system in Nigeria? I also have misgivings about people who do not live in a country voting. I know it is our right as Nigerians etc, and some countries do it, but not a lot of us are politically conscious (or know past what we read in the news, hear from family etc). We don’t (ok maybe I should speak for myself here) have first hand experience of how it is back home and we will not feel the full consequence of our votes if for some reason the majority of Nigerians in diaspora back the wrong party (again based on our second hand perception of it) and that party gets into power. If this was a system where everything worked well and we knew for sure that our votes counted, would not be rigged, and the representatives are fair and decent people, I would be the first to carry a placard for the right of citizens in diaspora to vote, but as it is now.. maybe now is not the time.

  7. Kevin Idehen

    January 8, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Nigerians in the Diaspora remitted $12 billion (USD) to Nigeria in 2012, more than the foreign aid received by Nigeria, that year. Our funds have an immediate and positive impact on Nigerians, as it goes into housing, welfare, school fees, health, feeding etc. Most of the rich people have their money in safe economies abroad, while the Diaspora feed many back at home. They can accept $12 billion from us but we cannot vote…..that makes no sense. What are they afraid of?

    • ccc

      January 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Word!

  8. NNENNE

    January 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you Mr. Kevin.
    Other countries do it . We have to put processes in place to do it too.
    Selection of candidates have to be thoroughly done. No more God father appointments to run. Nigeria is of age. The congress should put processes in place to make it happen and discourage rigging of elections.

  9. slice

    January 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    all i know is Fashola or Duke for president! please run for president. I beg una.

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