Diaspora Voting Not Achievable, Says Chairman Senate Committee

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By Hammed Shittu

The Chairman Senate Committee on Diaspora, Non-governmental organisation and Civil Societies, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, has said that diaspora voting being championed in the country may not be achievable in view of many challenges that are accompanying it.

Senator Basiru who represents Osun Central senatorial district at the National Assembly stated this in Ilorin, Kwara State capital while fielding questions from journalists shortly after presenting his public lecture at the Correspondents’ Chapel of Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ilorin.

The public lecture is entitled, ‘Democracy and Rule of Law’.

He said that, while he is in support of calls for diaspora voting, it appears more conceptual as challenges accompanying makes it difficult to be realistic.

He added that, “Section 172 of the Nigerian Constitution stipulated that a prospective voter must be registered. It would therefore be infeasible for diaspora to register physically most especially for the legislative elections. Which constituency or ward would their votes be counted for?

He noted that, “Even if they are allowed to vote in the presidential election, what would be the value of their votes? Would the diaspora votes represent addition to required percentage in any state? Or, will such votes be regarded as the 38th State or what?

The lawmaker stressed that, “the issue of data is very important and key to diaspora voting which the country does not have.

He therefore called for a critical examination of the legal and political issues to be surmounted for diaspora voting to be visible.

Earlier, in his lecture titled, ‘Democracy and the Rule of Law’,Basiru attributed persistence of electoral malfeasance in Nigeria to weak absence of legal institution to deal with the prosecution of violators of electoral processes.

He said that,.the Electoral Act does not have adequateprovisions to combat electoral frauds, saying that it has shallow mechanism for enforcement by vesting on the Independent NationalElectoral Commission (INEC) the responsibilities of prosecuting electoral offences.

The senator who is also a lawyer said: “It is surprising to note that in spite of the degree of illegal activities that have charactersised Nigeria’s elections, the perpetrators and beneficiaries of these illegal acts are hardly investigated, prosecuted and punished for their crime, even though there are reasonable grounds to prosecute them.

“Non-investigation and prosecution of election-related offences further promote the impunity within the electoral process. The reasons for the non-investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of electoral offences are not far-fetched. To start with, the nature of the Nigerian state supports electoral manipulation and this explains the intensive and persistent struggle to control and exploit the offices of the state.”

The lawmaker also lamented the deteriorating security situation in the country, adding that “today Nigerians live in absolute suspicion and constant feeling of an impending disaster.

“As a result, most economic activities have come to a halt and private businesses are crippling because of the pervading hostile environment and destruction of infrastructure. Aside the social tension and displacement of people, the heightened hostility between the various groups, particularly on ethnic and religious lines poses a serious threat to the unity and peaceful coexistence of the country.

“While every country has her fair share of security challenges, since May 29th, 1999 when the current democratic dispensation began, there seems to be a deterioration in the security situation in Nigeria. The activities of armed robbers, ethnic and religious crisis, the insurgency (Boko Haram) in the North East, militancy in the Niger Delta, spate of kidnappings major cities and roads, ritual killings and other violent crimes, show the precarious security situation in Nigeria.”

Senator Basiru added that this unsavoury situation “has fuelled the demand for the decentralization of the establishment of security apparatus by empowering state governments to establish their own state

police.

“At different for a, I have called for the creation of state police. Even as Attorney-Generla of the state of Osun, I have experiences that

suggest the necessities for state police. Again, it is still not too much to lend more voice to this call and I think the present security

challenges we are faced with has made it more than a call but a necessity which the government must seriously look into.”.