Observer group decries Nigeria’s high voter’s apathy
… Advocates introduction of voters' participation certificate
Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), a group involved in the monitoring of the 2019 general elections, has decried voter apathy across the country in the recently concluded elections.
CODER said there was an urgent need for the introduction of a Voter Participation Certificate (VPC) to be owned by every eligible voter in order to address such problem in future.
The group further enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to formally put in motion every arrangement necessary for the country to use May 29, 2019 for not just swearing in of elected officials but to deliberately and wholeheartedly celebrate the joyous occasion of the 20th anniversary of the uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria.
Wunmi Bewaji, Executive Director/Chair, Transition Committee of CODER, stated this Tuesday at a press briefing in Ogba, Lagos, describing the level of voter apathy throughout the country in the last election as alarming, especially in urban centres and among the elites.
Bewaji noted that records from the group show that 18 per cent turnout was recorded in Lagos, while it was 56 per cent in Jigawa.
According to her, “CODER notes a very high level of voter apathy throughout the country. The data is alarming. Millions of PVCs remain uncollected till date. Data suggest acute apathy especially in urban centres particularly amongst the elites,” he said.
He argued that to safeguard the country’s democracy, there was an urgent need to explore voter’s preregistration and incentivization of franchise with the introduction of a Voters Participation Certificate (VPC) with attendant benefits and consequences.
“For example, possession of a valid VPC could be made a criteria for employment/promotion in the civil service, for postgraduate admissions, participation in the NYSC, to obtain drivers licence, international passports, for registration of companies, etc,” Bewaji said.
Bewaji, lamented the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC’s failure to develop and enhance its human capital, stressing that personnel of the electoral body were poorly trained, a situation that affected their capacity to execute the task assigned to them by law, he noted.
“CODER observes INEC’s lack of attention to the provision of voting access to voters especially the weak. Poor location of polling stations, haphazard placement of voting materials, self-accreditation, etc, all add up to disenfranchise many especially the aged, the sick, disabled and illiterates,” he added.
CODER further noted that INEC needs to retrain, retool and reinvent itself to be able to meet the growing challenge posed by population explosion for it to be able to perform its task as the 21st century electoral body.
The Executive Director/Chair Transition Committee stated that to address the numerous problems noticed in the general elections, the electoral umpire must move from its archaic culture to technology-based operations.
According to him, electronic voting is imperative to cope with the growing population and the huge challenges it is likely to pose to future elections in the country.
Speaking further, Bewaji expressed CODER’s concern with what it termed reckless and rampant use of fake news by political gladiators in the 2019 polls, saying that it was deliberately done to destroy key institutions of democracy, such as INEC, Army, police and other security agencies in a manner that could undermine the nation’s democracy and people’s faith in the ballot box.