The political apathy Nigerians exude as evidenced in low turnout of eligible voters in elections even when their wellbeing is at stake is quite sickening.
Owing to lack of confidence in the political process, the lackadaisical interest of citizens towards elections is not surprising as it is characterized by vote buying, rigging, intimidation, violence and other forms of malpractices which have made Nigerians to believe that their opinions won’t count in establishing a decent government.
According to a report from Daily trust on Thu, 03 Jun 2021, since Nigeria’s fourth republic voter turnout has been declining. Beginning at 69 per cent in the 2003 general elections, it fell to 57 per cent in 2007, then to 54 per cent in 2011, to 44 per cent in 2015, and to an all-time low of 35 per cent in 2019. Only 82 million of Nigerians out 106.4 million eligible voters registered to vote in the 2019 general elections, and only 28 million of those who did so actually cast ballots. Considering that Lagos State alone has a population of roughly 14.8 million, it is depressing to learn that the current President of Nigeria was chosen by 15 million voters in 2019.
Apathy is a threat to humanity as espoused by Elif Shafak. Whether it is political or economic, the indifference will eventually have an impact on us. For instance, the 2019 elections cost INEC over 444.4 billion naira, which means 444.4 billion was taken away from government’s purse and there was a 35% turnout which implies that almost everything was a waste. The current state of Nigeria is a result of the low turnout of voters, if Nigerians had come out to exercised their right to vote maybe Nigeria might have been better.
It is saddening to learn that people are voting in order to gain financial or material advantages from aspirants who want to tip the political pendulum in their favor and win the election.
In the last concluded Ekiti State gubernatorial election, voters particularly those in rural areas were seen selling their votes for 10,000 naira; others even sold theirs for as little as 500 naira alongside little grocery .
The question begging for answers in my mind is if the 500 naira can buy a better Nigeria? Inarguably, times are hard and those with little or nothing see this as an opportunity that ensures their next meal, however, the paltry amount or food items received cannot compensate for another four years of hardship. Moreover, if their intention is to improve the country and better the lives of the citizenry, why would they need to buy votes?
Nigerians need to get up and realize what democracy really means: government of the people, by the people, and for the people (to quote Abraham Lincoln). That is, it is a system in which the people are in charge and the government is there to serve them. Hence, I implore Nigerians to use their right to vote and choose candidates they believe will improve the welfare of Nigerians.
*Okusolubo is a 200 level student of Mass Communication, Southwestern University, Nigeria.
*This opinion has been published on Nigeria Grassroot News with very little editing to preserve to preserve the original position of the writer. Therefore, all views belong to the author and Nigeria Grassroot News does not bear any responsibility for the contents of the story.