By Leke Baiyewu, Punch/Nigeria, Sunday, December 23, 2012
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, and the Congress for Progressive Change have thrown their weight behind the proposal for Nigerians in the diaspora to vote during the 1015 elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, in its contribution to the ongoing constitutional review exercise, had proposed that eligible voters abroad should be allowed to vote.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had criticised Sections 77(2) and 117(2) of the INEC Act, which enabled only Nigerian citizens resident in the country to vote at any election.
Speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH, the National Publicity Secretary, PDP, Olisa Metuh, said even though the party had chapters around the world; its members could only participate in intra-party activities.
He said, “PDP members in the diaspora are Nigerians who should be allowed to vote. But, the law we have on ground does not allow that. We can only advise our members in the Diasporas to push for the amendment of the existing law to allow them to vote in coming elections.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary, CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, said allowing Nigerians overseas to participate in elections would strengthen the country’s democracy.
He, however, said the INEC had yet to upgrade its capability to accommodate those in the diaspora.
He said, “It is very good. It is a success for any electoral system. Americans do not have to be in America to cast their votes. Electoral campaigns will be issue-based, as political parties will have to convince those abroad to win their votes.
“But, does the INEC have the capacity to handle the system? You do not attempt to fly when you can hardly crawl. That is very important to note. To allow those in the Diaspora to vote means the entire system will be electronic.
“We do not have any problems with the plan. The problem is, does the INEC have the capacity and the political will to ensure that the money to be expended on the venture would be accountable?”
The National Publicity Secretary, Action Congress of Nigeria, Lai Mohammed, said it was out of place for the INEC to seek votes from the diaspora, when it had yet to win the confidence of the electorate within the country.
He said, “Let the INEC first consolidate itself from within. Let it, first of all, conduct free and fair elections. Since it had said the 2015 elections would not be fully electronic, conducting elections beyond our borders would subject the exercise to more flaws.
“If the elections will be electronic, we will allow it (Diaspora voting). But now, let the INEC tells us how it’s going to ensure that Diaspora voting is not another way of inflating figures for the ruling party.”