Nigerians In Diaspora Can’t Vote Until We Amend Constitution – Gbajabiamila
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, says that constitutional amendment is needed before Nigerians in diaspora can be allowed to vote.
Gbajabiamila said this at the Diaspora Voting Stakeholders Workshop in Abuja.
He said that millions of Nigerians, who resided outside the country, had as much a stake in the present and future of Nigeria as those who lived in the country.
“Nigerians abroad use their resources to develop businesses and support family members here at home; they invest in their communities and support national development, so it is not strange that they are seeking to participate in the electoral process.
“But, before allowing diaspora voting, there is a need to plan well by first understanding the nuances, intricacies and the hurdles in front, before considering diaspora voting, if Nigeria will get it right.
“I was the principal officer when this bill came up in the 7th assembly and I shut the Nigeria in diaspora voting bill down.
“I did that for reasons the house came to understand; the language of the constitution is black and white and it states that you can only vote if you are resident in Nigeria.
“So, bringing a bill for diaspora voting at that time was a wrong move because you cannot use a bill to amend the constitution and it was on that basis that we could not take that bill.
“I am not proud of it but it was a necessity and someone had to take the responsibility; I am for diaspora voting, but all I am saying is that we have to do it right, so for that bill to stand, the constitution has to be amended first,’’ he said.
Gbajabiamila said that there was need to check if Nigeria was ready for diaspora voting because the elections conducted here come with a lot of issues and many litigation, afterward.
“Our elections here are not yet perfect, so how do we deal with diaspora voting? here, we consistently have litigation after elections, so how do we deal with that in diaspora voting?
“There are issues with diaspora voting, for instance, which of the elections will they participate in and which court will they eventually go to in case of litigation after elections?
“The topic of diaspora voting has, within a short period of time, become a matter of intense public debate; it causes us to confront the simple, unavoidable reality that this is a subject matter for which we must find resolution within the shortest possible time,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that the workshop provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to jointly consider the value of the proposals being currently offered and develop therefrom, a workable plan of action for policy makers and the general public.
Dr Ajibola Bashiru, Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora, said that the agenda of the 9th assembly was to work for Nigerians but that the issue of diaspora voting should be a consensus with Nigerians.
Bashiru said that there was need to look at what the constitution said about such bills before it would be passed, marking out all the intricate parts to be taken into consideration.
Earlier, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who was represented by Dr Mohammed Lecky, National Commissioner of INEC, said that the commission was ready for diaspora voting.
Yakubu, however, said that legislative backing remained a challenge.
“We cannot have inclusiveness without carrying every Nigerian, wherever he or she may be, along in the electoral process; we need to bring our diasporas into the voting system because they matter.
“ This is a subject matter in which the commission has shown a great deal of interest; we have studied it very carefully and positioned ourselves to do the needful at the appropriate time. We are ready,’’ the INEC chairman said.
Yakubu said that the commission had a wide range of first hand knowledge on how other election management bodies handled issues of diaspora voting, adding that there was no reason why Nigeria should not practice diaspora voting.
He said that the commission was convinced that diaspora voting was the way to go but hurdles like the election to allow diasporas participate in, logistics, funding, legislation among others still needed to be addressed.
Rivers Gov’ship: Obuah Congratulates Fubara, Hails Rivers People
The Director-General of the 2023 Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Bro Felix Obuah, has congratulated the Governor-elect, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, on his resounding victory at the March 18, Governorship election in the State.
Bro. Obuah in his congratulatory statement commended the calm disposition and the steady mobilizing spirit of the Governor-elect throughout the electioneering campaign which endeared him the more to the electorate as demonstrated by their massive votes.
Rivers people, Bro. Obuah noted, cannot but thank God for the successful polls in the face of daunting tasks.
Bro Obuah who is also the immediate past State PDP Chairman expressed greater joy that the winning streak of his regime has continued to bear fruit in the State.
According to him, Sir Sim Fubara is another choice rightly made by the people to continue to enjoy good governance and dividends of democracy at its best which is the result of the choice of His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in 2015 and 2019, respectively.
“I give kudos to our Rivers people for their appreciation of all the good works of our indefatigable ‘Mr. Quality Projects’ which they expressed through their massive votes for our Governor-elect and all the PDP candidates in the just concluded elections,” Bro Obuah expressed.
He said the PDP-led government in the state is spurred by the people’s gratitude and poised to do more for the people as a new political dispensation gets underway.
He thanked Governor Wike for his foresight, courage and unwavering spirit to raise the bar of political leadership in the State which is gradually taking roots in the land as a tradition.
Bro Obuah also commended the community heads, traditional rulers, women groups, religious groups, and the youths for listening to the voice of reason which contributed to making the 2023 election in the state a good one.
The Director-General of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council also congratulated the 32 candidates of the PDP that won the 32 seats in the State House of Assembly and all National Assembly members elected on the platform of the PDP.
He said now that the elections were over, it was time for all hands to be on deck for the much desired peaceful atmosphere necessary for good governance.
He dedicated the PDP victory to all Rivers people and pledged his usual fatherly support to the leadership for a more united and better Rivers State.
Abia Gov’ship Election Result: Social Media Report Fake, Says INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has denounced an online report accusing its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of attempts to violate its guidelines and consequently distort the Governorship election result in Abia State.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi said the only communication sent to the State Returning Officer was the commission’s directive suspending further collation of results.
He said; “The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu never called the Returning Officer to give her a directive. Rather, the Returning Officer wanted the official communication on the Commission’s decision to suspend the collation of results in Abia State. The Chairman then directed that pending the delivery of the hard copies, the soft copies of the Commission’s letter be forwarded immediately to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Enugu State and the Administrative Secretary of Abia State.
“The Returning Officer for Abia State then directed that the contents of the letter be read aloud by the Administrative Secretary in the presence of agents of political parties, observers, the media and security personnel at the Collation Centre.
“This is what is now being mischievously interpreted as a directive to the Returning Officer on some phantom criteria at variance with the approved guidelines. There is nothing like that.
“In fact, the content of the letter is basically the same as the Commission’s Press Release dated Monday 20th March 2023 which has since been uploaded to the Commission’s social media platforms and is already in the public domain.
“The public should disregard the story as fake news”, said Oyekanmi.
A portal, Strenuous Blog, had quoted the Returning Officer as alleging that she was being forced to do the wrong thing.
According to the portal; “The INEC Presiding Officer In Abia State Nnenna Oti had this to say…’I’m Professor Nnenna Oti from Afikpo. I am the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, The people’s mandate shall stand. I have spent all my adult life in pursuit of the ideals of good governance. We shall stand by the these principles. The pastor in me (she is a Pastor with the RCCG) and the mother in me will not permit me to do anything that will adversely affect the future of our children. I shall do right by God and by man!’
“Then to the shock and surprise of everyone in the hall, she said that the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, personally called her and gave her directives on guidelines to follow in ensuring that Abia governorship election results were collated based on some criteria but that on her own she has decided that the will of Abia voters would not be subverted under her watch.
“At that point, she asked the Administrative Secretary to read the message she said that came from the INEC headquarters Abuja”.
Checks by The Tide source revealed that the commission has no such nomenclature as “State INEC Presiding Officer”.
Declare Binani Adamawa Governor-Elect, WPF Urges INEC
The Women in Politics Forum, WPF, said Nigerian women will not allow history to repeat itself in the ongoing gubernatorial election in Adamawa State.
The WPF, a non partisan organization for women with membership across the 36 states and FCT, stated this in a statement, yesterday.
The group said Nigerian women are aware that results from 20 local government areas had been collated, giving the APC gubernatorial candidate, Senator Aishatu Binani an early and consistent lead.
The WPF advised the Independent National Electoral Commision, INEC, to ensure the results are not manipulated and that Senator Binani is given her mandate and declared as the winner of the election.
In a press release signed by the National President of the women forum, Ebere Ifendu, the forum noted that there was great misconduct in the election results collation center which she said followed the refusal by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa, to collate governorship results from Fufore local government area.
Ifendu said, “We will not accept a repeat of history. In 2011, Her Excellency, Dame Pauline Tallen contested for the Plateau State Governorship election and was cruising to Victory when announcing of results suddenly stopped, and when it was finally announced, they had stolen her mandate. This was exactly the fate of Senator Aisha Al Hassan ( mama Taraba). Her victory was also stolen. We can no longer watch our collective mandate stolen from us.
“Nigerian Women have worked hard and waited patiently for this victory and woe betide that person that will be used against the wishes and aspirations of Adamawa people and Nigerian women.
“We can confirm from our agents in Adamawa State that Senator Aishatu Binani is having overwhelming lead in Fufore Local Government.
“We are aware of the manipulation going on in the state and the role of Governor fintiri who had earlier used his state powers to frustrate Senator Binani’s campaign and has further gone ahead to tamper with the figures coming from Fufore LGA;
“…which undoubtedly is Senator Binani’s strong hold ,and originally in favour of the APC candidate, and using the state INEC officials and media to fabricate stories and raising false allegations against her .
“This is a grossly condemnable act and we are raising our voices as Nigerian women to seek immediate intervention to prohibit and abort the manipulation against Senator Binani as we see this as a daylight robbery of her mandate and an affront to Nigerian Women.
“Nigerian women are calling on INEC to ensure that the results are not manipulated and that Senator Aishatu Binani is given her mandate and declared the winner of the election.
“We are also using this medium to call on security agencies to be more effective in protecting the public against attacks by political thugs.
“We have received reports of violent attacks on innocent citizens of the state. We demand that the perpetrators of violence should be arrested and prosecuted while the police is more vigilant and proactive to prevent violence.”
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