In Defence of Participatory Democracy

March 15.– It is public knowledge that out of the over 93 million people who registered to vote in the 2023 general elections, more than 87 million collected their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs). An overwhelming majority of the registered are demographically youths, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). Yet despite the great momentum that heralded the elections only about 25 million persons voted. For instance, in Lagos State more than seven million people registered to vote, the highest number in the country. But out of the 6.2 million voters who eventually collected their PVCs, only 1.2 million voted.

It is curious to note that five million registered voters who had collected their PVCs boycotted the exercise in Lagos State for reasons best known to them.

This trend of conspicuous voter apathy has been the elephant in the room which all the contenders in the post-February 25 debate seem to be ignoring.

The fundamental question for politicians of various hues in Nigeria is this: why did tens of millions of voters across Nigeria shun the elections? The explanation does not lie in spreading prejudice by any side to the debate. Scapegoating any group will definitely not provide the answer.

The indubitable fact is that participatory democracy is severely impaired when more than 60 million voters, who collected their PVCs nationwide, did not show up at the polling booths on election day. But since the results of the February elections were announced, ethnic champions and religious bigots on all sides have given their respective interpretations to what happened...

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