PUSH NEWS 24 INTERNATIONAL : January 2nd, 2022
NIGERIA IS NOT RIPE FOR DIASPORA VOTING
The Nigerian Diaspora League on Friday in a new year message listed certain arrangements that must be in place before the National Assembly could come up with necessary legislation that would enable Nigerians who are resident abroad to participate in future general elections in the country.
The NDL also said the current situation in the country regarding power, ICT proficiency and poor telecommunications system was not conducive for the National Assembly to come up with a law that would legalize voting in the country.
The Convener, Nigerian Diaspora League, NDL, Prince Olalekan Ojo Martins in the State of Texas, USA, has said that Nigeria is not yet technically and financially ready to allow Nigerians in diaspora to vote in the 2023 and 2027 general elections.
The Ojo Martins during a meeting with NDL Executive Committee members said he was not against the right of Nigerians in Diaspora participating during elections by voting.
He noted that it was the National Assembly that should pass the relevant laws to give a legal backing to Diaspora voting.
The Chartered Public Relations Practitioner who disclosed this in an interview with Push News 24 International said that the call on National Assembly by Nigerians to fast track legislation that would allow Nigerians in diaspora to vote would not be possible following common home-grown irregularities that are still militating against the electoral process in the country.
To this end, the irregularities that mars the electoral system must be looked into before Nigerians in abroad could vote.
Irregularities, which include lack of an undated voter’s register, late arrival of voting materials among, adequate voters education, security amongst others, must be corrected before initiating diaspora voting.
“If a child is born, the child will learn how speak, crawl before beginning to run.
“Voters in Nigeria do not have confidence in the electoral process in term of provision of voting materials. All these have not been corrected.
“There are a lot of names of voters not being appeared on voter’s register which militating against the electoral process to have free and fair elections in the country and this must be looked into” Martins explained.
Martins said, “ There are so many things that are involved in Diaspora voting. It is not just enough to say that we are going to do diaspora voting.
“it is not as if we are opposed to diaspora voting as stakeholders but there are so many challenges and issues that we have to be resolved first.
Prince Martins noted that the local elections in the country are usually confronted with numerous challenges especially when few numbers of votes are needed to determine the winner of an election, particularly at the state levels.
He said, “ For instance the Sokoto governorship election where the margin between the winner and the runner-up was very slim. Who will be the beneficiary of the votes from the Diaspora especially when the winner would be determined by the votes from the diaspora?
“We also have to determine who constitute the diaspora. Are they only Nigerians in Europe, America and Asia or are we also going to recognise Nigerians who are living in African countries?
“There are speculations that the population of Nigerians in Sudan, Niger, and Chad alone are running into millions. We also have Nigerians residing in other African countries. So, will all those millions of Nigerians there be allowed to vote under the diaspora voting?
“Another issue to determine is that, is it only those who genuinely emigrate and legitimately living in those country that would be regarded as diaspora? Are we talking about the documented and non documented Nigerians that are living abroad?
“Now, because of the nature of our elections, in which of the elections would the Nigerians in Diaspora vote? For instance, we talk about the local government election. Will the Disporans vote in such elections? How are we going to determine the local government they are voting for?
“Will they also vote in the National and state assembly elections? How are we going to determine the constituency or the lawmakers they are voting for? Is there any machinery in place to determine that? The answer is No!
“In the governorship election, are they going to vote according to their state of origin? The fact is that we don’t even have any arrangement or records in place to determine that, at least for now.
“So, it is not just enough to say the National Assembly should legislate on Diaspora voting but we have to find a way to address the serious issues that could hinder the process before coming up with any legislation that would give it a legal backing.”
Prince Ojo Martins noted that Nigeria Diaspora League (NDL) will be willing to work with the National Assembly on Diaspora voting but that all the important issues must be critically looked into to avoid consequences that may jeopardize the bill.
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