Nigerian students studying in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not be prevented from voting in the upcoming elections simply because they are students.

“The law is very clear on the fact that a Commonwealth citizen who is residing in the country for a period of one year can be registered as a voter,” Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay told I-Witness News on Monday.

“So, for our purposes, we will not discriminate against somebody because the person is a student. But as along as the person has been living here legally for one year…” she said.

Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay. (IWN file photo)
Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay. (IWN file photo)

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace told a rally of his New Democratic Party in Redemption Sharpes on Saturday that he has inquired of Findlay about whether the students would be allowed register as voters.

“She say she go look into it. I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but what I want to say, Nigeria is a Commonwealth country and if you resided here for a year from a Commonwealth country, you can end up voting legally.”

Eustace said he wanted to know what decision has been taken in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the question of the eligibility of Nigerian students voting.

He said there is a court case involving Nigerian medical students in St. Kitts who voted in that country’s general elections earlier this year.

“And the question is whether they are students living or whether they are really residing in St. Kitts. We have to answer that questions here too,” Eustace said.

Findlay noted to I-Witness News that a person can only vote if they are registered as a voter.

“If there is a question being raised as to whether those students will be allowed to vote, the first thing is that those persons can only be allowed to vote if they were registered as a voter.

“And I am saying, if they can provide evidence to the Electoral Office that they are, first of all bona fide Commonwealth citizens, secondly, that they have resided here legally for at least one year,

and they show up to be registered, we will register them, like any other commonwealth citizen who lives here.”

Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace addressing the NDP rally in Redemption Sharpes on Saturday. (IWN photo)
Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace addressing the NDP rally in Redemption Sharpes on Saturday. (IWN photo)

Findlay noted that a Commonwealth citizen must live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for one year continuously to qualify for voter registration.

“But clearly, of the person is a student, then the person may have left the country for a brief period. Here is where the institution of learning also will come into play…” Findlay told I-Witness News.

“It has to do with the evidence that the person brings forward. If the Electoral Office doesn’t think that they have enough information, then clearly, they will not register the person. As long as we feel that we have enough information to register the person, we will,” Findlay said.

5 replies on “Nigerian students can vote in St. Vincent, if…”

  1. If it is indeed true that this is allowed by law in SVG, then the law is in need of amendment. Clearly, such a law makes it very easy for a sitting government to unfairly manipulate the outcome of an election in its favour, if the government is of a mind to do so. I am against it.

  2. As long as they have lived in the country for a year and the constituency that they wish to vote for at least 6 months, and have birth certificate, they should be able to register.

    Vicentians are sometimes asked for utility bills in their name, that should apply to everyone.

    In the case of students their student cards and evidence they are here legally.

    There are thousands of Nigerians in the UK who are not legal, that can be the same here.

    So presentation of their passports for inspection should also be a must. That will tell you if they have an immigration stamp and for what period, also will be able to check their movements.

    If they have been travelling outside the state during the 12 months that may also be a consideration.

  3. I am against it too.When these students finish their schooling they pack up and go back to Nigeria or where ever.They wont be here to help Vincentians to bear they grind.This ULP is in desperation mode right now and wont think twice to exploit this situation.

  4. So that’s the Nigerian like. Passport and now voters sent as students. I have to give it to Ralph and Camillo. Want to bet they are probably living in the constituency Camillo is contesting. I hope they deport the entire lot if they enter a voting booth.

  5. This is an interesting issue. Whoever heard about foreign students being empowered to vote in their host country in which they are not citizens? Would Vincentian students be able to vote in Nigerian national elections? Are Vincentian students allowed to vote in South Africa, the UK, India, Australia, Canada and other Commonwealth nations?

    I am Vincentian. Having left the country at the age of 20 to be a student in a foreign land, I never had the opportunity to vote in my homeland. In fact, it would have been preposterous for me to present my student visa and passport and claim the right to register as a voter in any country where I was studying – commonwealth member or not. How do we reconcile these quaint interpretations of Vincentian law with the political realities in our country?

    Vincentians abroad cannot vote, descendants of our national hero Joseph Chatoyer have no rights to citizenship; Nigerians, Syrians, Lebanese, etc. have rights in SVG that native born Vincentians who were forced to flee their homeland in search of economic survival are barred from having …..

    So how do we reconcile these matters? And who benefits from the present system of contradictions?

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