With Less than 300 days to the general election in Abia state and barely a month to the end of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
Nigerians are more than ever, conscious and even interested in the electoral processes.
Some political analysts maintain that the next round of the general election was critical to the existence of Nigeria as a country; heightened by ethnic and religious conflicts.
Participation in elections is necessary for democratic sustenance. However, the conduct of electoral processes and governance in Nigeria do not inspire confidence. Most people are discouraged and kept away by several anti-democratic norms and cultures which include electoral fraud, political violence, violation of human rights, corruption, etc.
According to the record from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the situation appears to have worsened in recent elections and has undermined the credibility of the election and the nation’s democratic process.
Data obtained from Enough is Enough Nigeria show that of all the states in Nigeria, only Jigawa and Katsina recorded at least 50% voter turnout. Despite Lagos being one of the commercial centres in Nigeria and the second-most populous state, it recorded the lowest turnout – 18.3% of the registered voters cast their ballots.
In Rivers State, 9.1% of the population selected the president in 2019, while in Lagos and Abia States, the president was elected by 9.2% of the states’ population; it is more worrisome in Southern Nigeria, irrespective of whether the election is local or national.
That figure of voter turnout in the 2019 election in Nigeria is said to be the lowest of all recent elections held on the African continent, according to the data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (I-IDEA).
Recall that The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had released the list of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) collected for the 2019 general elections with Lagos State topping the list, followed by Kano and Kaduna states, respectively.
According to the list, 5,531,389 people collected PVCs in Lagos State, while 4,696,747 registered voters in Kano State collected their PVCs.
In Kaduna State, 3,648,831 persons picked up their PVCs followed closely by Katsina State with 3,187,988 million cards collected. Rivers State rounds up the top five with 2,833,101 PVCs collected.
In terms of the percentage of registered voters that collected their PVCs, Lagos is not in the top 10 with 84.19 per cent of the 6,570,291 registered voters in the state collecting their PVCs. 1,038,902 million voters (the highest for any state) did not collect PVCs in Lagos State.
According to the INEC statistics, Katsina State has the highest percentage of PVCs collected with 98.69 per cent of registered voters in the state collecting their PVCs.
It was followed by Taraba State with 97.30 per cent of registered voters getting their PVCs, while 95.76 per cent of Nigerians registered to vote in Gombe collected their cards.
Kebbi State and Bauchi State followed with 95.13 and 94.84 per cent of registered voters getting their PVCs in both states, respectively.
Statistics by the INEC on the ongoing continuous voter registration revealed that Nigerians embraced the exercise. However, it is revealed people were registering only to get voters’ cards for other uses and not necessarily for voting.
The immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Kola Ologbondiyan asserted in an interview that people lost interest in the electioneering process because of the belief that the predetermined winners would be declared by the electoral body and tasked the INEC to look inward by ensuring that votes count during elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier disclosed that the printing of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) for new registrants was being delayed by its robust cleaning up of the voter’s register.
“The reason why we have not made the PVCs available is because of the robust system of cleaning up the registration to ensure that only genuine registrants are added to the voters register using the Automatic Bimodal Identification System (ABIS) for fingerprint and facial clean up”.
Adults of voting age in Nigeria have been urged to get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in preparation for the 2023 general election.
There have been a lot of campaigns by INEC, Non-government organisations even the media.
Enough-is-Enough (EiE) Nigeria, a not-for-profit organisation, in a recent release contained in its Newsletter, urged all Nigerians to arm themselves with their PVCs, urging those yet to get theirs to make all necessary efforts to do so.
A non-political movement, known as Asiwaju Distinguished Ambassadors Movement (ADAM), has expressed its readiness to embark on a massive campaign to increase the awareness of getting more people to register for their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) across the country.
According to them, the forthcoming 2023 election could only be successful when more people have their PVCs to exercise their civic duty by electing leaders of their choice.