Nigeria Decides 2019: A Post-Mortem Analysis of the Voter's Turnouts

March 15, 2019

On Saturday, March 9, the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory Area Councils elections took place, following the conclusion of the Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives’ elections that held on February 23. The importance of the election should be noted too by all active citizens.

Notwithstanding the earlier strange postponement, as well as pockets of untoward incidents that marked the exercise, the results announced are though being contested, there are no fighters in the street, except for pocket of violence and alleged vote buying in some identified states, the runner-up of the presidential election has signified intention to challenge the outcome in a court of law. This is a democratic process that will certainly dignify our 20-year-old unbroken democracy. There is therefore a sense in which we can claim that Nigeria’s democracy culture is emerging.

Looking at voter's turnouts in 1999, there were 57,938,945 registered voters by INEC. However, the total votes cast was 30,280,052, representing 52.3 percent. There were 29,848,441 valid votes and 431,611 invalid votes, representing 98.6 percent and 1.4 percent of the total votes cast respectively.

However, the voter turnout rose in 2003 to 69.1 per cent. That year, INEC had 60,823,022 registered voters, out of which 42,018,735 turned out and cast their votes with 39,480,489 valid votes and 2,538,246 invalid votes. The turnout in 2003 represented an increase of 16.8 percent.

In 2007, available records showed that there were 61,566,648 registered voters by INEC out of which 35,419,262 voters, representing 57.4 per cent, were said to have been voted. This represented a drop in the voter turnout of 11.04 percent.

The voter turnout again dropped further to 53.7 percent in the 2011 presidential election when INEC had 73,528,040 registered voters, but only 39,469,484 of them turned out for the poll, with 38,209,978 valid votes and 1,259,506 invalid votes. This represented a drop of 4.36 percent . The situation was the same in 2015 when only 29,432,083 voters, which was 43.6 percent out of the 67,422,005, registered voters turned out and cast their votes. That year, there were 28,587,564 valid votes and 844,519 invalid votes. The drop was 10.1 percent.

However, in 2019, with 84,004,084 registered voters, only 28,614,190 voters turned out and cast their votes with over 1.29 million votes rejected due to improper voting.

The low turnout of voters for the 2019 general elections can only but be attributed to two factors–voter apathy arising from the effect of the disappointment of citizens over poor conduct of the elections and the excessive deployment of military personnel in major states of the country.