Diaspora voting has been a contentious topic in Nigeria’s politics. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, has revealed the reason Nigerians in the diaspora are yet to fully participate in the country’s electoral process is because the National Assembly are yet to give its approval. She said this while speaking at the Diaspora Leadership Conference, organised by the Nigerian Consulate in New York, United States of America.
According to her, INEC and President Buhari are ready but Nigerian lawmakers have continued to stall the approval because they are afraid it would not be favourable to them. “We all have to make it happen. It is going to be tough and I tell you in politics, lawmakers are not too comfortable with the idea. I don’t know why.”
“But we have to make it happen. If Ghana and Sierra Leone, smaller countries are doing Diaspora voting, why can’t we?”
It is estimated that about 116 countries have a system that allows their emigrants to fully participate in their electoral process through external voting. Interestingly, many countries, including Switzerland, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Columbia, Mexico, United States, Great Britain, and others, have voting right laws that allow their citizens living abroad to register and vote in their native countries’ elections regardless of their countries of abode. For the most part, these countries allow their citizens to cast their votes in their respective embassies and consulates.
In some cases, some of these countries utilize e-voting to facilitate the participation of their citizens in their national elections. Frankly, I feel the 2019 general elections could have been a great opportunity to incorporate diaspora voting.