Senators in Africa’s most populous nation on Tuesday voted to reject changes to the constitution to allow citizens living abroad to vote in national elections.
Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a new president and parliament in February 2023. Hopes that Nigeria’s diaspora would take part were dashed when only 29 senators out of the 92 present supported the provision. A provision to allocate special seats for women to increase their political representation also failed to pass. The bill sought to create special seats for women in the National and State Assemblies.
For a constitutional bill to pass, it requires the support of at least two-thirds of the 109-member senate. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates Nigeria’s diaspora population at 1.7 million as of 2020.
In October last year, Senate president Lawan reassured Nigerians of his concerns over the affairs of Nigerians in the diaspora. He stated this during the official presentation of a compendium entitled: ‘+600 Diaspora icons at 60’, by the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and management staff in Abuja.
In her previous submissions, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) leading other Diasporans to the event which was moderated by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege alongside other Senators. The NIDCOM boss stressed that over 119 countries conduct Diaspora Voting.
“Nigeria cannot afford to be left out given the humongous contributions of Nigerians in Diaspora to the Nigerian economy”, she said
Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, had supported the bill. Elections in Nigeria are an indicator of how men dominate politics in the country of 200 million people. During the last election in 2019, 47% of registered voters were women but they occupy only 6.5% of national assembly seats.
The Senate, however, passed a bill to empower the National and State Assemblies to summon the President and state governors to answer questions on national security and other issues.
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