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The Other Five Million

The 2023 general elections in Nigeria saw a low turnout of voters, particularly in Lagos state. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), over 6.5 million people registered for their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in Lagos, and only about 1.4 million came out to vote, leaving over five million people who did not exercise their right to vote, for one reason or the other. This low turnout has raised questions about the safety of the polling zones, the effectiveness of voter education campaigns, and the motivations of the electorate.

According to news reports, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, confirmed that 6,708,451, or about 87% of the 7,637,402 registered voters, collected their PVCs in the state. This leaves 928,951, or about 12.6%, of registrants who were unable to collect their PVCs. The question now is, why didn’t the remaining 5,308,451 people come out to vote?

Here’s my theory: There are four groups of persons who make up the 5,308,451 who did not vote.

 Group A: those that searched far and wide but even Google Maps couldn’t locate their polling units.

Group B: those that didn’t collect their PVCs because they subscribe to the Japa movement and couldn’t care less what happens to Nigeria in the next four to eight years.

Group C is characterized by those who planned to vote, got to their polling units, found out their polling units were not safe, and realized that this life na one.

The final group, Group D, is characterized by those who planned to vote but upon leaving the house saw there was light and remembered they hadn’t finished that Netflix series. Well, a certain school of thought insists that we cut them all some slack, as they fully held down the fort virtually from their different locations, supporting online as “twitter voters”, “oo-ing and ahh-ing” at the results being shared by members of different polling units across the country.

This, however, was a source of frustration for many political analysts, who believed that these online supporters could have made a significant difference in the election outcome. Twitter, which has become a platform for political activism and engagement, saw many Nigerians expressing their political opinions and voicing their support for their preferred candidates. However, despite the high level of political discourse on Twitter, the number of individuals who didn’t come out to vote in Lagos raises concerns about the effectiveness of social media in driving political participation. One can deduct from this highly-presumptuous analysis, that the reason for the low turnout of voters can be summed up under things like voter apathy, logistical challenges, a lack of trust in the electoral process, or security concerns.

With the governorship elections slated to hold on the 18th of March 2023 approaching, the thoughts that cross our minds are, “Would what happened during the presidential elections repeat itself, or would the outcome of that election spur Nigerians to come out and vote?” While we can only hope that Nigerians come out to exercise their civic rights, in the words of Edmund Burke, “nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could do only a little.”
As a people, we must come together and break the chains of “Las las, my vote no go count”.



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