YIAGA AFRICA urges National Assembly to address voter apathy ahead of 2023

YIAGA AFRICA urges National Assembly to address voter apathy ahead of 2023

- YIAGA AFRICA has urged the National Assembly to address the mounting voter apathy in Nigeria's recent elections

- Nigeria recorded only 36 per cent turnout for the last presidential and National Assembly elections

- Only 32 per cent turnout was recorded for the governorship elections in 2019

A foremost election observer, YIAGA AFRICA has urged the National Assembly to address the mounting voter apathy in Nigeria's recent elections.

The group specifically asked the federal legislature to take advantage of the ongoing constitution and electoral reform to address the issue ahead of 2023 general elections.

Nigeria recorded only 36 per cent turnout for the last presidential and National Assembly elections and 32 per cent turnout for the governorship elections in 2019.

Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA, made the statement while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a roundtable event organised by the organisation on Tuesday, March 10 in Abuja.

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YIAGA AFRICA urges National Assembly to address voter apathy ahead of 2023
Samson Itodo, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA speaking at the sidelines of the event.
Source: Twitter

The roundtable with the theme: “Tackling Voter Suppression in Nigerian Elections’’ was organised by YIAGA AFRICA to beam searchlight on the issues of voter suppression and apathy which are becoming a part of elections in the country.

Itodo said that the electoral reform provided Nigerians with an opportunity to strengthen the legal framework to prevent apathy by voters.

His words: “Our electoral amendment does not really provide safeguards for sufficient rights of voters so we are going to advance recommendations on how to improve those safeguards.

“We hope that the National Assembly, having told the public that the lawmakers are committed to electoral reforms they will do so.

“In the event, they did not do so, it simply means that it has been just talking and there is no commitment to electoral reforms.’’

Itodo said that the recommendations proposed, if mainstreamed in the electoral reforms, would deepen the quality of elections in Nigeria.

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“If we continue to let the development of this nature pervade our electoral process, what we stand to do is to further deepen the voter apathy within our elections,’’ he said.

Speaking at the event, Professor Charles Ukeje of the Obafemi Awolowo University, lamented that the judiciary is beginning to play a key role in voter suppression.

He bemoaned the fact that the Nigerian judiciary now plays a major role in the outcomes of elections, adding that “voter suppression is being aided by judicial authorities.’’

During his presentation at the event, programme manager, elections of YIAGA AFRICA, Paul James, revealed that 3.3 % ballots were cancelled in the 2019 presidential election.

He said that the cancellation in the 2019 presidential election, were announced in all states except the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that they were four times higher than that of the 2015 presidential polls.

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He revealed that YIAGA AFRICA deployed over 4000 Watching The Vote observers across the 774 local government areas in the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to monitor the pre-election environment, election and post-election.

He said that the group while observing the election also witnessed destruction and burning of election materials, threats to media reporters, disruption of results collation, military interference abduction of journalists and harassment of observers.

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Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Farah Dagogo, has warned that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not need a constitutional amendment for delimitation of constituencies in Nigeria.

Dagogo while speaking at a press conference in Abuja recently, said some sections of the Electoral Act must be amended to ensure quality electoral process in Nigeria.

The lawmaker also noted that INEC as a body must adhere to laid down rules which would ensure that delimitation is covered in the constitution.

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