Mr Moshood Isah, Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), on Monday expressed concern over the recurrent culture of low voter turnout during elections in the country especially as the 2019 elections approaches.
Isah in a document made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said that statistics showed that since the 2015 general elections voter turnout was not increasing.
“With just over 29million Nigerians coming out to vote in 2015 and with 15 million determining the President out of 67 million registered voters, it is left to be seen if the current 84 million registered voters will translate into increased total votes cast.’’
Isah said unfortunately, the recent off circle elections did not give a good indication that voter turnout would increase in 2019.
This,he said was because since the 2015 elections, Nigeria had successfully conducted up to six governorship elections, three of which came within the last one year, with that Osun being the latest.
He said that interesting trends and exciting figures were recorded across all three elections by YIAGA AFRICA who observed all the off-circle the governorship elections after 2015.
The media officer said that this showed that INEC had consistently improved on deployment of election materials to polling units with steady increase in commencement of accreditation among other things.
He, however, said that the inconsistent nature of turnout of voters for elections was worrisome considering what was being recorded in the off-circle elections pre and post 2015 general elections.
He said that in Osun there were over 1.6 million registered voters and unfortunately, the figures did not match with the voter turnout for the election.
Isah said that voter turnout dropped from 54 per cent in 2014 to 45 per cent in the just concluded 2018 Osun election.
He said that the situation in Anambra was even more discouraging as less than a quarter of the total number of registered voters participated in the November 2017, governorship election.
He said that the Returning Officer of the election, Zana Akpagu, said a total of 2,064,134 residents registered as eligible voters for the election but only 457, 511, which was about 22.16 per cent, came out on Election day to be accredited.
The media officer said that similarly, with a registered voter of over 1.6 million, the Ondo governorship election in 2016 recorded 35 per cent voter turnout having seen about 585,000 people coming for accreditation.
He said that the Ekiti governorship election recorded just over 44 per cent turnout in 2018 compared to 50 per cent turnout it recorded in 2014.
Isah said that Kogi similarly presented just less than 40 per cent of registered voters for its governorship election that was conducted between November and December 2015, which he said, was relatively poor.
He said that since the 2015 general elections, all the off-circle elections conducted had not crossed the 50 per cent voter turnout mark.
He said that this was not a good sign because the electoral commission on its own part had made efforts to improve on the conduct of elections through the smart card reader among.
“While INEC is the main body responsible for administering elections in Nigeria, it is pertinent to know that without effective deployment of security and other stakeholders, the commission may just be working in a vacuum.’’