Nigeria’s Senate on Tuesday voted to reject changes to the constitution to allow citizens living abroad to vote in national elections, while a provision to allocate special seats for women to increase their political representation failed to pass.
Voters in Africa’s most populous nation 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.
For a constitutional bill to pass, it requires the support of at least two-thirds of the 109-member senate.
Nigeria’s diaspora population was estimated at 1.7 million as of 2020 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Another provision to create special seats for women in the National and State Assemblies was rejected by a majority of senators. Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, had supported the bill. President Buhari is set to step down after two terms next year.
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.
Nigeria has never elected a woman president or state governor.
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.