The 2019 Nigeria election, again showed how Nigeria electioneering has degenerated. Between 2003 and 2019, election participation has been declining, from 61.1% in 2003 to 31.49% in 2019. Actually, the percentage turnout for 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 were 61, 55, 50, 41 and 31, respectively. Whereas, the corresponding population in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 were 124, 148, 164, 187 and 200 million, respectively. Logically, the declining voters participation should be the reverse. As many intellectuals have come to believe, “Nigeria knows what to do if she has the will to do it”. It is Albert Eistein or Sigmund Freud who puts it clearly, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Nigeria election is a National insanity, because the outcome is always predictable, violence, assassinations, leftover arms in the hands of hoodlums to inflict mayhem long after election is over, etc. It can be concluded that 2019 election has resulted in many ills as sumarized below:
- The rate of turnout has decreaed tremendously, from 61.1% participation in 2003 to about 31.49 in 2019; about about 30% drop.
- Also, participation of all registered voters, 84.272 million was 26.5 million, about 31.4%; and sadly, it was about 28% in Edo State.
- Politicians continously arm their supporters to intimidate opponents and scare them out of voting as seen recently in Bayelsa and Kogi.
- Surplus leftover armunitions in the hands of hoodlums are being used to terrorize the country thereby destablizing the country further; e.g the recent dare-devil attack in Ekiti; Sep 27, 2019 in which armed robbers on Thursday attacked a branch of Wema Bank in Ise-Ekiti, Ise/Orun Local Government Area of Ekiti State with sophisticated weapons.
- Overwhelming, pre and post court cases result, according to Appeal Court Justice Salami during his lecture title “The use of public funds in election litigation”, he reported I quote “The use of public funds in election litigation and the integrity of the Judiciary could not have come at a better time. Being an election year, it is a period in which we have the highest numbers of election matters in Court. I reliably gathered that there were about 639 pre-election cases that arose from the various primaries and 736 election petitions emanating from the just concluded elections.”
- Justice Salami assertion is that the Judiciary is clog with many frivolous court cases; and often the cost of litigation as we all know is absorbed by the governments, both State and Federal.
- The other abnormality is the selection of Party leaders during the Primary by few So-Called Holier than thou Die-hard Party Members; e.g. the Primary that elected President Buhari 2015 was by 5,992 in which he obtained 3,430 votes under APC. Also, in 2019 about 3,153 members elected Alhaji Atiku Abubakar with 1,532 on the PDP platform.
Meaning, the Primary elections determine who emerges as the President of the nation. Often, thes few “So-Called Holier than Thou Die-Hard Party Members” as late Chief Anthony Enahoro would often describe them “Members that are expert in Brawling” believe it is a do or die and their chance to make money.
I watched the 2019 election results on the TV into late night hours and was the saddest day of my life. The data and results presented by the returning officers, many of whom were professors was very dissappointing to know at this modern age they did not see anything wrong in the data to raise alarm. For clarity, the percentage of the Total Votes Cast to Total Registered Voters (TAV/TRV) as presented by INEC for the various State is shown below.
The highest turnout was in Jigawa with 54.53% and the lowest Lagos with 18.32%. Edo State was 27.87% and was not surprising to me. Many people, including my relatives did not bother to go out and vote because of the violence and death involved in Nigeria elections.
It may interest my readers to learn Nigeria 2019 election turnout, 31.69% turnout compared to 58.1% United States 2016 election (Source: U.S. Election Project) and 2017 United Kingdom of 68.8% (Source: House of Commons Briefing Paper CBP7529) was very disheartening. It shows how much the Nigeria society is disconnected from the governing. It is also very disheartening to know the election process in Nigeria is deteriorating mainly due to violence and apprehension on the part of the voters that the sacrifice of one’s life is not worth their votes. A plot of the voter’s turnout since 2003 shows the decline in voters’ participation. Logically, one would expect higher turnout with increasing population.
Nigeria elections have been plummeting since 2003 and if my reasoning is correct, it can only get worse unless alternate solution is sought. A plot of voter participation between 2003 to 2019 is as below. Also included in this is USA voting trend to show how abnormal Nigeria election is.
The actual number of Registered or eligible voters and actual vote cast and their percentages are reported in tabular form for better understanding of the data.
In summary, my prediction is that election violence in Nigerian elections has come to stay and will only get worse. Therefore, MOVING FORWARD, I hereby propose the following recommendations to improve and address the abnormalities in Nigeria electioneering process.
- INEC should introduce a new voter identification numbering system, meaning assign unique number to all eligible voters across the country; Voter number that can only be used by the voter assigned.
- INEC should adopt vote by mail as new form of electioneering; that is ballots distributed to individual voters by courier.
- Voters can then vote at the comfort and safety of their homes and return them at INEC assigned locations, e.g. the Post Office, etc.
- INEC should handle both Primary and final elections; meaning INEC must produce all the ballot papers with their assigned identification numbers and must be used in the local and National elections.
- INEC shall print the ballots for all qualified Parties; For Example, APC ballots may be blue, PDP brown, Labor Green, etc.
- All voting should be by THUMBPRINT and must match the THUMBPRINT submitted during voter registration stored in the system; THUMBPRINT is the oldest and most accurate form of deterring fraud.
- To participate, Parties must submit half a percent of the registered voters in the state; for example, in Edo, Kano and Lagos States with 2,150,127, 5,391,581 and 6,313,507 registered voters respectively, any Party that wish to be on the ballot must submit 10,750 26,960 31,570 voters’ THUMPRINTS to INEC.
- All registered voters assigned numbers with their fingerprints should be in INEC storage for comparison with their ballots when received; therefore, no one can duplicate your fingerprint as the machine will reject them
- All voters’ election malpractices should be considered HIGH CRIME and should be referred to EFCC for voter fraud investigation.
- The Judiciary should setup a special department in every state to handle Voters’ election malpractices.
Implementation of the following recommendations would yield near perfect elections and eliminate the violence and death. It is becoming very shameful that Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where many lose their lives while trying to exercise their democratic freedom, that is to vote. Nigeria can lead the way in Africa by example that Black people can govern themselves.