Political apathy is a situation whereby citizens seclude themselves from political activities and affairs in their country. This is because they have a negative feeling about elections, so they adopt a political behaviour characterized by inaction. This attitude among Nigerian citizens is a result of many factors.
Political apathy in Nigeria has negatively impacted the nation in a great deal by pulling down its economic development. The main reason the phenomenon is apparent in Nigeria and other countries worldwide is when citizens consider themselves powerless. Find out ways of fighting political apathy in Nigeria.
What are the reasons for voter apathy?
Voter apathy results from voters' lack of interest to choose their leaders in a democratic election. Citizens are discouraged from participating in the electoral processes for various reasons, such as limiting political participation directly through discriminatory policies made by the government or indirectly through slow, inefficient or non-representative administrations.
If a government employs both direct and indirect methods, its citizens will be politically disengaged since they believe that their actions will change little or nothing at all. A large population of Nigerians fails to participate in government-related issues for the following reasons.
- Bad governance: The government of Nigeria rules in a carefree manner, making people lose morale in undertaking any politically related activities. Therefore, they ignore the governmental issues because they view it as a waste of time.
- The incompetence of electoral bodies: In the past Nigerian elections, survey respondents voiced their concerns for the impartiality and independence of the electoral body. They voiced their concerns on electoral fraud, which discouraged public participation in electoral processes.
- Election rigging: This practice is common in Nigeria. Often, losing parties accuse their competitors of electoral malpractices after the general elections.
In the 2019 Presidential elections, the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party of rigging the elections. The aftermath of it all is that citizens develop a mentality that no matter the level of security provided during an election, stealing must take place either directly or indirectly.
- History of political occurrences: Many Nigerian citizens, still fear being victimized in the election process, tracing back to past experiences of losing family members, friends, and relatives. A typical example is the death of 636 people during the 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria.
- Violent campaigns: Sometimes, some political parties carry out their campaigns violently, which makes people lose interest in government issues.
- Inadequate security measures during campaigns and elections: Tight security measures are necessary during campaigns. This way voters can take part in elections without the fear of being attacked or bullied by their opponents.
What are the effects of political apathy?
Political apathy interferes with economic growth, government processes, and society in general. Below are the effects of political apathy:
- It breeds a bad government that is vulnerable to high corruption levels in a country. Also, the rise in poverty levels weakens government institutions and result in lower quality government services and infrastructure.
- The emergence of thugs and greedy politicians who take leadership positions, thereby embezzling government resources meant for the citizens.
- The slow pace of national development hinders proper public participation, which ultimately affects development.
- The phenomenon leads to insufficient political information and education.
Reasons for fighting political apathy
The benefits of fighting political apathy in Nigeria are endless. Below are some of the reasons why Nigeria should search for ways of fighting political apathy.
- This phenomenon is the reason for lousy governments. Thus, fighting it helps to keep a government accountable.
- It breeds ground for unqualified and illiterate personnel who declare themselves leaders. The result is mismanagement of human and material resources since a low management level is in charge of the nation's resources.
- It enhances communication between citizens and the government.
- With sufficient political education and information, there will be a functional government.
Many political analysts claim that political apathy is linked to political problems such as corruption and other unfair practices. Such practices have negative effects on the Nigerian economy.
List and explain ten ways of fighting political apathy
There are several ways of discouraging political apathy in Nigeria. Below are some of the ways of fighting political apathy in the nation.
1. Educate people about government and policies
According to many political analysts, by equipping yourself with political knowledge, you build a motivational force to achieve your interests and make decisions that conform to your preferences. Therefore, the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote.
Nigerians can develop trust in the political system with more extensive knowledge of politics, further motivating their participation in voting.
2. People should take responsibility for the country's problems
A contributing factor of voter apathy is that many people are hesitant to own the collective dilemmas they face. However, having that approach at the back of your mind means that you get to stand up and help resolve national and local issues.
If Nigerians want to impact the outcome, they need to participate in the country's day to day issues.
3. Participating in electoral processes
If Nigerians decide to come in a large voting turnout during elections, they will develop the confidence to elect a leader of their choice. In turn, the belief in powerlessness in voting will diminish.
4. Citizens should understand and defend their rights
Many Nigerian citizens should be exposed to their rights so that in case their rights are violated in time of voting, they can protest and be able to create petitions in court, thereby ensuring fairness. This will encourage people to turn out in huge numbers to participate in government-related activities.
5. Active involvement in the current affairs of the nation
Nigerians should be part of political parties like the NLC (Nigeria Labor Congress) party, APC, PDP and others. This will facilitate their involvement in the current affairs of the nation.
6. Development of political culture and interests
Nigerians can attend various government events and public meetings to familiarize themselves with the system. This way, they will make it a habit of being involved in political issues in the long run.
7. Motivating Nigerians to improve their lives by having a keen watch on the political situation in the country
Nigerian citizens should be made aware of the fact that unhealthy relations that exist among opponent parties directly impact their livelihoods. By so doing, they will want to get involved in political activities to better their lives.
8. Use of mass media/civil societies to educate and sensitize rural residents on political matters
The government should use mass media to educate its citizens on the importance of being at the forefront of the country's issues.
9. Encouraging diverse views in political arenas
The country should create an accommodating political environment. This way, any person willing to vie for any position will not feel left out because their ideas don't match those of the majority.
10. Following up on the fulfilment of political promises and manifestoes
Nigerian citizens should hold the government accountable for any mismanagement or dis-functionality in the nation by ensuring that their manifestoes are all met.
Political apathy has many negative effects on a nation. The bigger population of a nation affected by its effects are the youth, minority groups, and the underprivileged. These categories of people should be politically active to bring the real positive change they crave for.
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