Indonesian Embassy invited Commission’s chair to observe Diaspora voting in Nigeria
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it would not relent in its aspiration to make Nigeria’s electoral system more inclusive by accommodating citizens in the Diaspora.
The INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, stated this when he accepted an invitation to the Commission by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to observe voting by Indonesians in Nigeria, as part of the Asian country’s parliamentary elections.
Diaspora voting by Indonesians in Nigeria will hold on Saturday in Lagos and on Sunday in Abuja, at the country’s consular offices.
The voting will be conducted as part of the parliamentary elections in mainland Indonesia scheduled for April 9.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Sudirman Haseng, extended the invitation to INEC when he paid a courtesy visit to Mr. Jega on Tuesday.
Indonesia has a total population of about 240 million, out of which 180 million are eligible voters.
Mr. Jega stated that Nigeria had a lot to learn from Indonesia’s electoral experience.
“In Nigeria, we are doing our best to open up our system for citizens in the Diaspora to be able to vote,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there are presently legal inhibitions, because our laws prohibit Diaspora voting. This is not directly so; but there is a provision in our laws that requires every eligible person to cast their ballot at the polling unit where they have registered as a voter.
“The implication is that for people in the Diaspora to participate in our elections, they will have to come home to register as voters, and subsequently cast their votes at the polling units where they registered.”
The INEC chairman said it had made recommendations to the National Assembly for an amendment so as to allow people in the Diaspora to vote, adding “We are hopeful that our recommendation will be taken on board. It is good to know that Indonesia does it, because we are looking out for the best model that can be adapted to our country when the time comes.”
Mr. Jega said conducting elections in a country like Nigeria was quite challenging, but restated the Commission’s confidence that given on-going preparations, the 2015 general elections would be much better than 2011 and would comply with global best standards.
Earlier, Mr. Haseng said Diaspora voting was applicable only to the Jakarta constituency in the parliamentary election.
He added that besides the parliamentary election, Indonesians would go to the poll for presidential election on July 7.