Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has announced that the electoral body has finalized a policy on diaspora voting.
Addressing the recurring issue of legalizing diaspora voting, INEC Chairman stated his hope that the legal barriers preventing foreign-based Nigerians from voting will be removed eventually.
Yakubu made the announcement while delivering a lecture on ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Preparations and Priorities for Electoral Integrity and Inclusion’ at Chatham House in London on Tuesday.
“We have actually completed the policy as far as the commission is concerned and we identified two categories of Nigerians living outside the country,” he said.
“We have the OCV (Out-of-Country Voting), mainly by service personnel and other Nigerians engaged in, say, foreign service, and those who are engaged in technical manpower.
“There is assistance organised by the Nigerian government for other countries, particularly in our sub-region. For now, they don’t vote. But the other leg of it is for Nigerians permanently resident outside Nigeria, that is, the diaspora voting.”
The INEC chairman stated that the Commission collaborated with Nigerians in diaspora organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We’re even happy that some constitutional amendments were submitted to the National Assembly.
“But eventually, they didn’t sail through in terms of the propositions forwarded to the state assemblies for concurrence before our constitution is amended,” he said.
Yakubu then said that INEC only acts in accordance with the electoral legal framework, which is why it is currently unable to implement diaspora voting, as much as its leadership would like.