Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged the National Assembly to fast track legislation that would allow Nigerians in Diaspora to vote in the 2023 general elections.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday, Moghalu, the 2019 Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) said allowing Nigerians in Diaspora to vote would give them a higher sense of belonging.
Diaspora voting is the ability of people who are outside their home country when an election takes place to exercise their right to vote.
Moghalu who is also the Convenor of To Build A Nation (TBAN) said Nigerians must have the ability to vote from abroad as was the case in Ghana and many other countries.
“Nigerians living and earning their living abroad is not a crime. It is their right. Their citizenship shouldn’t be denigrated because of where they live.
“Every country has a diaspora, some at leisure (people who just want to live in foreign lands), others by force of circumstances (economic migration),” he said.
He noted that fast-tracking the constitutional review to accommodate diaspora voting now would give INEC enough time to fine-tune the process.
“2023 may seem far but is by the corner especially for INEC as it needs ample time to register and accommodate every eligible Nigerian living abroad to be part of the voting process.
“If the Central Bank of Nigeria can woo diaspora remittances, we need to woo their votes too,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, in October 2020, urged the National Assembly to amend sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) to enable Nigerians abroad to vote.
Mahmood had opined that INEC believed that Nigerians living outside the country should have the right to vote as citizens interested in the affairs of their own country.
He said many of them made considerable contributions to the economy through huge financial inflow to the country, and that Diaspora voting remained consistent with global best practices.
Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-Governmental Organisations, in October 2020, had visited the leadership of INEC to make a case for Nigerians in Diaspora to be part of the electoral process and to exercise their franchise.
Sen. Rose Oko, chairman of the committee, advised the commission to consider enabling Nigerians in Diaspora to vote.
She assured that the committee would do everything possible to facilitate the amendment of the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to accommodate people living outside the country in the electoral process.
NAN also reports that the House of Representatives on December 2020, passed for third reading, a proposed Bill on Diaspora voting in subsequent elections in the country.
The Bill sponsored by Rep. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe and 15 others, sought to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Cap. 23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The bill sought to amend section 77 Subsection (2) of the Principal Act to now read ”Every citizen of Nigeria, who has attained the age of 18 years residing within or outside Nigeria at the time of registration of voters for purposes of election to a Legislative house, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for that election.