Nigeria: Why Nigerians are becoming less interested in voting

By Yusuf Ganiyu OlaniranIt is a known fact that a former American president Abraham Lincoln was the one who interpreted democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. But in an academic parlance, Abraham’s explanation of describing democracy will not guarantee a student a pass mark.

Nigeria votingIn a general way of expantiating on democracy. It goes thus: The consents of the governed is highly desirable for any person to come around to rule the people.  In a broader and wider way, democracy can be defined as a system of government, where periodic elections are held, with presence of representative government: popularly elected parliament: the existence of independent electoral commission and whereby electorates are free to choose or vote for the candidates of their choice. This definition does not exclude, majority rule.

Electoral commission of Nigeria; Federal electoral commission; National electoral commission; National electoral commission of Nigeria and of late Independent electoral commission of Nigeria. The aforementioned bodies were previously used by Nigerian government for electoral matters. The essence  for establishing electoral bodies every progressive country in the world is to safeguard the liberties of the citizens; to have orderly transfer of power from one government to the other; to protect  the  people-oriented government from being hijacked by  ‘vultures ‘ in human skin called politicians. Here is a country blessed with a lot of natural abundant resources, yet an average citizen of the country lives below three Us dollars and less than two British pounds. Despite the colossal amount of money that was committed to electioneering in the country, the politician or political jobbers in and outside the government have made people feel, that they have crossed the bridge with their families. No matter whose horse(s) is gored.

Tell me any concerned person that read this piece of mine. How will the people be more interested in voting when their future and that of their generations to come has been mortgaged? All over the world eligible citizens in the country are implored to register in order to vote. The civic responsibility of registering for election is one thing and the exercise of voting is a different ball game.

In 1993 general elections, less than 50% of the people that registered voted. Yet the results of what was adjudged to be the fairest and freest in the history of the country’s chequered history was not allowed to see the lights of the day. In 2007 general elections, gubernatorial and presidential elections took place on the same day. In Ogun state where the incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo comes from, the result indicated one million votes for the president, while the winner of governorship garnered over three hundred thousand votes. The questions now, is how did  they do it?Moreover,it is the home state of Olusegun Obasanjo.The court eventually cancelled the result of presidential election result of that state, but Olusegun Obsanjo still ruled.

The act of voting is not something new to Nigerians, it happened to be a familiar exercise. As far back as 1923, Nigerians have been voting, though at restricted level. Over the time the country had witnessed different types or forms of elections under military and civilian governments. The elections were also conducted in the 30s,40s,50s,60s,70,80,90s, this includes the present millennium. The election flaws that were associated with the former and present electoral bodies  are so enormous that you barely see the elites voting during the exercise. This is because a result of the election has been pre-determined before the conduct.

A text book can be written in explaining and analyzing over one thousand reasons why Nigerians will always be less interested in voting. There are other monumental reasons like poverty, illiteracy, lack of trust and so on that space will not allow me to discuss here.

In addendum not all the people that registered for this election will vote. The assigned days for the election are used by people to relax their brain; tend their muscles; relax their veins and tête-à-tête with the family.