Less than three weeks ago, eligible voters in Nigeria exercised their voting rights, as enshrined in the constitution of the country, to elect the successor of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria as a nation is facing numerous challenges, ranging from insecurity and kidnapping in the North to secessionist agitation in the South, a high debt profile, inflation and poverty.
Despite all these challenges, it was baffling that among the 93,469,002 registered voters; only 24,965,218 cast their votes, according to the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu. The President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) got 8,794,726 while his runner-up, Atiku Abubakar of the People Democratic Party (PDP) got 6,984,520 and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), got 6,101,533, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian People Party (NNPP), 1,496,687. Other candidates shared 648,474.
Overall, the national turnout was 29 per cent. No election had a lower participation rate in the six decades of Nigeria’s independence. This portrays the high rate of political apathy and nonchalant attitude towards governance in the country by the masses, either due to failed promises or lack of political awareness. Nigeria, as a nation, operates under a democratic system of government, which means that the power of our votes, as citizens, cannot be overemphasised.
- Naira crisis: Oluwo empowers subjects with cash, food items, machines, others
- 10.6 million Nigerians used cannabis last year – NAFDAC
Some of the reasons for political apathy in Nigeria include disillusionment with the political system. Many people feel that the political system is corrupt, broken, or ineffective, as evidenced by several occurrences. This makes many believe that their votes don’t matter or that politicians are only interested in serving their own interests rather than the needs of the people.
A lack of trust in politicians and government officials has also contributed to political apathy. When politicians make promises that they don’t keep, or engage in dishonest or unethical behaviour, coupled with reports of siphoning and mismanagement of public resources, it erodes people’s faith in the political process.
People also feel powerless to effect change through political means. They may believe that their votes don’t matter or that the political process is too complex to understand or engage with effectively.
Due to years of failed promises, the Nigerian masses have now lost hope that their votes would bring the change they desire.
Civil societies and relevant stakeholders need to conduct mass awareness campaigns to sensitize the masses, particularly those in the rural areas on the importance of voting, which is one of our fundamental human rights and a way of electing those who will represent our will at all levels, thereby strengthening our democracy and bringing about development at all levels.
Hajara Abdullahi, Dept. of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano