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2019 Election: Senate Committee Pushes for Diaspora Voting

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Senator Monsurat Sunmonu

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs is pushing for Diaspora voting in the coming general elections in 2019, Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu has said.

Sunmonu told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Thursday that giving franchise to Nigerians abroad would give the impression that “they are part of the system”.

“The first thing that we must do is for Nigerians to have their rights to cast their votes anywhere they are. If you cast your vote, that makes you a part of the system,” she said.

She also said her committee had suggested how Nigerians in the Diaspora could vote in future elections.

According to her, the Diaspora Nigerians who have the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) can cast their votes as the PCV has all their personal data and fingerprint.

“The Nigerian Passports that are issued to people outside the country is the same thing with fingerprints and personal data. They can use that to cast their votes outside. So that shows they are Nigerians.

If we start from there and they know that Nigerians outside can as well vote, then they will be able to know that we incorporate them into the system.

They will know that it is their rights to come and fight for anything in Nigeria, to come and say yes, this is our votes in New York, Switzerland or anywhere.

We must start with that; that is where we must start, to make them eligible to vote,” she stated.

Sunmonu, however, said she could not promise that Diaspora voting would be a reality in the 2019 general elections.

“I can’t say but we know that as things are going now, the Senate will not hesitate to do its best and I will say that I give kudos to the leadership of the Senate who is looking at this. I know the committees on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Interior, and Foreign Affairs will all work together to see what we can do for Diaspora and for Nigerians just to make Nigeria move forward.”

She advised Nigerians to be law-abiding wherever they are, to avoid running into troubles outside the country.

“We just advise Nigerians to be law-abiding and for them to know that the law of the country where you are must be adhered to at all times. This is because, we will not support somebody who has violated the rules and the laws of his or her host country; we only can support when it comes to representation. But we will advise and we are begging them to please make sure that they do not violate the rules in their host countries.”

Sunmonu said the committee had been able to respond to some of the challenges being faced by the Diaspora.

“Like in South Sudan, when some people were being killed, we were able to investigate that by working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When we heard about Nigerians being deported from U.K in large numbers, we invited both the Controller of Immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

So we were able to get on top of it. With the ministry, we made a trip to the United Kingdom to investigate this and we were able to see that only about 45 Nigerians were deported.

I’ve been to South Africa; we’ve got involved with the problems being faced by Nigerians outside. I promise that we will not relent on our efforts in the coming 2017 to do more than what we actually did in 2016,” she added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) was established by the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 1976 to gather and distribute news on Nigeria and cover events of interest to Nigeria at the international level for the benefit of the Nigerian Media and the Public.

7 Comments

  1. Delta geh

    December 29, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Would love for this to happen!

  2. EE

    December 30, 2016 at 1:34 am

    The Nigerian senate, ever making laws without thinking through the repercussions.

  3. Marian

    December 30, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Lol, will our votes count though or yall just trying to be fancy?

  4. Cindy

    December 30, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Why should people who don’t contribute anything tangible to the progress of the country be allowed to vote? Let them vote in the respective countries they chose to live in. They can’t decide who those of us back home choose to rule us since they won’t be here to face the repercussions of that choice. The last time I checked, you can come into the country to vote and return to your base after the elections. So this is a No No No for me.

    • The Bull

      December 30, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Nigerians in Diaspora sent home remittance of $21 billion in 2015. Sounds tangible enough for me.

    • IntelliJ

      December 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

      People in diaspora contribute largely to the progress of Nigeria, some examples are:

      Foreign exchange. (Western Union, World remit, Banks etc).

      Foreign Investment (Housing, Farming, Purchase of Goods and services, Shares).

      Ambassador (Good and Bad representation of Nigeria).

      The truth is that the people in diaspora are also concerned about the well being of the country and will like to contribute to the leadership of the nation, also the ones that are not concerned about Nigeria will definitely not be voting through this process, so there is no need to worry about them.

      People need a better and convenient way to vote while they are outside the country, eg a Student, Nigerian on Temporary work visa, Nigerian with dual citizenship whilst outside can easily vote abroad and not have to come into the country to vote.

      My main concern is the implementation of this process.

  5. Chiomie

    December 31, 2016 at 6:51 am

    It would be nice for Nigerians living abroad to be able to vote in our country. Not all Nigerians in diaspora are citizens in their country of residence. At least this will make me more interested in Nigerian politics.

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