In terms of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) registration, there seems to be a revolution going on in the country. Registration centres are swarmed daily by thousands of youths who want to possess that document which will give them access to voting in 2023. Nigeria has never witnessed this level of awareness before.
On social media, different skits have been created by artistes to promote voter registration. What is the cause of this upsurge? Will this translate into a radical increase in the number of voters next year?
Hitherto, most Nigerians had seemed indifferent or showed apathy towards the political process in the country. Nigerians seem to believe that our political system is not transparent given that it keeps recycling the same people every four years. There is also the widespread belief that the votes of the electorate do not count due to rigging, manipulation, and ballot box snatching around the country during elections.
Three odd years ago, Muhammadu Buhari won the election with a paltry 15.2 million votes, a far cry from the 73 million registered voters. Of the total number of people registered to vote, 35.6% voted during the last election.
In a country of over 200 million people and 120 million people of voting age, 15.2 million does not represent a healthy percentage of Nigerians. In various states, governors emerged with as low as 200,000 votes out of a possible 2 to 4 million registered voters.
This does not speak well for Nigeria’s political participation. In the current dispensation, there is a general desire and clamour by millions of people especially the youths to obtain the PVC required to vote in next year’s election. The upsurge in the desire to obtain the PVC started with the emergence of the Labour Party candidate Mr Peter Obi. Before his emergence, many youths virtually shunned activities leading to the 2023 general elections.
This is because they were confronted with the same old politicians and political parties who, as far as the youths are concerned, cannot be exonerated from the socio-economic anguish and malaise in the country.
The emergence of Peter Obi of the Labour Party has led to an upsurge among youths to acquire the PVC.
INEC offices around the country are besieged and inundated by thousands of youths across the ethnic divide wishing to collect their PVC. Currently, according to INEC, there are more than 85 million registered voters in Nigeria. This has never happened in the history of the country.
Now, INEC is under pressure to extend the deadline for millions of potential voters to obtain their PVCs. It is a fact therefore that Nigerians are responding positively to the 2023 general elections. It remains to be seen if these facts will translate into something tangible in 2023.
Prior to the 2014 general elections, Nigerians were disenchanted with the PDP administration at the centre. They were united in their resolve to change the leadership in Aso Rock, The Trumpet gathered.
They were disappointed with PDP’s sixteen years of governance which left the country in tatters. But the current APC government has dragged the country backwards making the PDP years look like a bliss.
So, it is understandable that the people are fed up and tired with both political parties. They want something fresh, even if it is an experiment. This has accounted for the PVC revolution in the country. It will amount to fiction if all the efforts to acquire PVC do not count next year during the elections.
If the election results will be transmitted electronically, the incidence of cheating will be reduced drastically. However, it has also been pointed out that transmitting election results electronically will not foreclose cheating and manipulation of the process.
Nigerians fear that if presidential aspirants, in their desperation to rule Nigeria, will dole out millions of dollars to buy delegates, they would stop at nothing to compromise the electoral process.
The PVC revolution in the country will be mere fiction, without substance or immediate impact on our political culture if votes do not count next year. President Muhamadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief has the onerous responsibility to ensure that the 2023 general elections are free and fair.
Also, the youths and everyone should be allowed to vote in any area where voting is taking place.
The process must be transparent. INEC chairman and all the officials have a responsibility toward Nigerians to ensure that the will and choice of the people prevail. The aspirants should also sheath their swords. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the general elections next year succeed.