Conference Okays Disapora Voting Right

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By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.

Delegates at Ongoing National Conference yesterday unanimously asked the federal government to amend Nigeria Constitution so that  Nigerian living abroad who are qualified by law and who are not less than 18 years old can vote in elections.

Also, the Conference in plenary agreed Tuesday that the federal government should regularly regulate the activities of donor agencies to Nigeria non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The Conference endorsed the proposals of Conference Committee on Foreign Affairs after heated debate on the report of the committee which was slated for consideration on Tuesday.

The committee in its report said, “Millions of Nigeria Living in the diaspora currently are unable to vote in the various election taking place in their home country. This because according to the provision of section 13 (1) (C) of the Electoral Act 2006, as amended and section 77(2) and 117(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, only citizens present in Nigeria at that time of registration of voters can register to vote in any election.

“Thus, these million of Nigerians living abroad feel disenfranchised and are very desirous of exercising their voting right, which they consider a fundamental right, in election in their fatherland.”

Accordingly the committee recommends that the provisions of section 13(1) (C) of the Electoral Act, 2006, as amended and section 77 (2) and 117(20 of the constitution be amended to provide for diaspora voting Right so that Nigerian citizens living abroad who are not qualified by law and who are not least 18 years old by the time of voter registration, to vote in Nigeruian election. The appropriate mechanism to ensure there are no abuses must also be put in place before the process takes off.

In addition, Conference accepted an amendement that Nigerian passport should be renewed every 10 years instead of every five years.

At the end of the consideration of foregin Affairs Committee Report, the Deputy Chairman of the Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi applauded the committee saying the report is the least controversial report.