• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Students, farmers, housewives to sway 2023 elections

9 elections that will shape Africa in 2024

Registered voters who are classified as students, farmers, housewives as well as business persons have emerged as the groups to sway the 2023 general elections, BusinessDay analysis reveals.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) identified registered voters by professions such as students, farmers/fishermen, housewives, and business persons, and these groups altogether have a total population of 66.23 million, representing 71 percent of the registered voters for the 2023 general elections.

Others identified as traders, civil servants, public servants and artisans have a total population of 27.23 million voters, constituting 29 percent of the registered voters in the country.

In 2019, the first group-students, farmers and fishermen, housewives and business persons, constituted 70 percent of the registered voters while the second group — traders, civil servants, public servants, and artisans — accounted for 30 percent.

Issues in the Nigerian economy in the last few months such as the prolonged strike within the university system, high inflation rate and volatile foreign exchange market, are some of the factors that are tipped to have direct bearing on the forthcoming general elections.

Specifically, Nigeria’s headline inflation raced to 21.47 percent in November 2023, which according to the World Bank, has eroded the minimum wage of N30,000 by as much as 55 percent while widening the poverty net by as many as five million additional Nigerians. The World Bank further stated that the minimum wage has reduced from $82 in 2019 to about $26 currently.

A university don, Musbau Lateef of the Law School, University of Hull, United Kingdom, believes that individual interests, rather than group interests, will determine the direction of voting in 2023.

“An individual who stands to gain under the presidency of any party will rather vote for that candidate than sheepishly follow any nebulous group interest. Group interests in Nigeria are not cast in stone,” Lateef said. “This is why it is almost impracticable for all civil or public servants to vote in a particular direction. Political interests are deeper than group interests.”

Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) believes that economic conditions in the country motivated more individuals to register in order to participate in the 2023 general elections.

“Civic awareness has grown because of the economic hardship in the country. That is why more Nigerians registered to exercise their civic responsibility. This may influence the voting pattern in 2023,” Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), said.

Overall, 93.469 million Nigerians registered to vote in the 2023 general elections, 9.46 million voters or 11.3 percent more than 84.004 million Nigerians that registered for the 2019 general elections.

Mobilisation to register was most successful among the students whose population increased from 22.32 million in 2019 to 26.03 million in 2023, an increase of 16.6 percent. The number of voters who identified themselves as business persons rose by 15.2 percent from 10.81 million in 2019 to 12.46 million in 2023.

The number of registered artisans increased by 10.9 percent from 4.478 million in 2019 to 4.967 million in 2023. Those voters who regarded themselves as full housewives saw an increase of 9.8 percent in their population from 11.844 million in 2019 to 13.006 million in 2023.

Farmers and fishermen’s population on INEC’s register increased by 8.2 percent from 13.630 million in 2019 to 14.742 million in 2023. The number of traders who registered in 2023 is 7.998 million, up 5.7 percent from 7.568 million in 2019.

Civil servants’ population on INEC’s register as at January 2023 is 5.283 million, representing an increase of 4.9 percent over 5.038 million that registered for the 2019 general elections. Public servants saw the least growth in their population, increasing by just 3.7 percent from 2.29 million in 2019 to 2.37 million in 2023.

In terms of geopolitical zones, the highest growth in registered voters was in the north central whose voters increased from 13.36 million in 2019 to 15.36 million in 2023, representing an increase of 14.9 percent. South-south followed with an increase of 12.5 percent from 12.84 million in 2019 to 14.44 million voters in 2023. North east is third with an increase of 11.1 percent from 11.29 million in 2019 to 12.54 million in 2023.

Growth in registered voters in north west was 10.4 percent to 22.25 million this year compared with 20.15 million in 2019. South west saw its voters rise by 10.2 percent from 16.29 million in 2019 to 17.95 million in 2023, while the south east recorded 8.5 percent growth in its voters, from 10.05 million in 2019 to 10.9 million in 2023, and this is the least growth in voters’ registration among the six geopolitical zones.