As Osun State elections draw nearer, there have been concerns about the number of citizens' turnout that would be witnessed in the next few months. The greatest fear any progressive mind and supporter of democracy would entertained is voter apathy, as it remains a big challenge to the practice of democracy. Voter apathy is deeply rooted in electorates' minds across the nooks and crannies of the country. Analysis from latest elections in different states of Nigeria show how many citizens rebuked participating in elections, hence refused to vote for any candidate.
From every quarter, it is quite unfortunate that little did electorate realize the power of voting in enhancing good governance and strengthening democratic system of government. Indubitably, a massive turnout of voters shows confidence and trust in the political parties and candidates voted for in any election. With massive voting, leaders of the people will be supported and elected. Failure in trooping out to vote amounts to a great disservice by electorates to themselves and a direct indication that masses are not ready to elect leaders of their choices.
With detailed analyses, low turnout of voters in 2014 elections have laid down foundations for voter apathy in Osun state. As revealed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the percentage turn out of voters in Osun Gubernatorial poll in 2014 was 54.17%, while positing that total number of registered voters was 1,411,373, total number of accredited voters amounts 764,582 and finally, total numbers of votes casted out of this figure was 750,021. By Interpretation, close to average 50% of the electorates in Osun state did not participated in the election.
In 2018, Osun state recorded the highest number of political parties to ever vie in an election in the history of democracy in Nigeria with 48 parties with their individual candidates for the election compared to 20 we had in 2014. It was also interestingly to know that 200,000 prospective voters registered to vote which increases the total number of registered voters to over 1.6million from 1.4million. Despite this achievement, records have shown that voter apathy has been a critical problem marring elections in Osun state over the years.
In the last election in Osun state in 2018, about 500,000 electorates voted out of over 2.1million registered voters. As a matter of fact, voter turnout reduced from 54% in 2014 to 45% in 2018. This is a sad development which is very detrimental to the growth of our democracy. As analysis would have it, people refused to vote due to personalities of candidates of various political parties, especially that of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). Due to this, many registered voters and the youths preferred to stay home rather than wasting their votes.
Though the electoral commission, INEC, has improved over the years to endure massive voting and enormous voter participation through various means as statistics have shown, their efforts have not been productive to increase voter turnout during elections. To further enhance massive turnout during elections and access to polling units, reports have recorded that had increased numbers of polling units in the state.
However, the low turnout of voters is a great concern and fear ahead the forthcoming election in July, 2022. If voter apathy should continue, leaders of the masses would not have the chance to govern and democracy will surely be in mess. It is on this note that voters are sincerely urged to engage in voting in the forthcoming elections so that they can elect leaders of their choice.
Looking at the analysis above, any patriotic mind will pity democracy and good governance in Osun state. Therefore, it is on this note that the following recommendations are made.
stands to ensure elections are free and fair, electoral process transparent and citizens can cast their votes safely, this vision insinuates that electorates should be protected and secured during election. Violence of any sort should be avoided. As insecurity is one of the major reasons for voters apathy so far, we urge our security personnel with the support of the government to ensure maximum protection and security of the electorates.
Also, we implore Nigerians to troop out in masses to cast votes for their favourite candidates who will pilot the affairs of the state in the next four years. Nigerians are also advised to choose wisely candidates whom they have trust on in respect of good governance, set records of integrity and leadership qualities.
Furthermore, citizens of Osun state, who are just reaching the age of 18, are also encouraged to get their PVCs in order to participate in the upcoming elections as they are sermonized to shun electoral malpractice and violence.
Abdulganiyu Abdulrahman Akanbi writes for the Yvotenaija and BBYDI team