The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised concerns over increasing voter apathy across the country, saying the last two electoral cycles recorded 30 to 35 percent voter turnout across Nigeria.
The electoral body explained that the recurring voter apathy being recorded across the country portends danger to the country’s democracy, adding that more needed to be done in arresting the situation.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said that while some elections recorded a higher percentage of voter turnouts, it was lower in some other elections in the country.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja during the commission’s first consultative meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for 2021, the INEC chairman said that the commission would be exploring all avenues in proferring solutions to the challenges.
According to him, over the last two electoral cycles, including off-season elections, voter turnout across the country hovers around 30 to 35 percent.
“While a few elections had higher percentages, some recent by-elections recorded as low as 8.3 percent voter turnout in urban a constituency of over 1.2 million registered voters located in the nation’s most densely populated city.
“This unfavorably compares to the average voter turnout of 65-70 percent in other countries, even in the West Africa region,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “the commission has deeply reflected on the matter. Our conclusion is that several factors are responsible for discouraging voter turnout. Among them are inadequate voter and civic education, ineffective voter mobilisation, the fear of violence during elections, unfulfilled promises by elected officials, and low public trust in state institutions.
“While the commission will continue to work with CSOs and all stakeholders to address these challenges, we are also convinced that access to polling units is a critical factor in voter turnout during elections. Countries with higher percentages of voter turnout during elections also have adequate and convenient voting locations for eligible voters which are periodically adjusted to reflect an increase in voter population, unfortunately, this is not the case in Nigeria,” he said.
Yakubu said that Nigeria has 119,973 polling units established in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) to serve a projected population of 50 million voters.
“The figure remains the same in the last 25 years although the number of registered voters has increased to 84,004,084 by 2019. It is set to rise after we resume the registration of new voters ahead of the 2023 General Election,” Yakubu said.