According to a report by the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), Nigeria’s 2023 election results have put the issue of disenfranchisement in the spotlight, as despite having the largest electoral register in Africa with 93.4 million voters, only fewer than 25 million valid votes were counted.
The incumbent All Progressive Congress (APC) party candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, received roughly one-third of the total votes, while his main challengers, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi, garnered seven million and 6.1 million votes, respectively.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) faced logistical failures and controversies over the election results, indicating that the promised electoral reforms and lessons learned were not fully implemented.
Voters experienced frustration due to the widespread delayed opening of polling units, and thousands were disenfranchised amid violence and irregularities reported by election observers.
Despite the significant budget allocated to the elections, voter turnout was only 25.7%, the lowest recorded since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. This indicates how Nigeria’s politics and state institutions continue to exclude rather than include citizens.
The INEC’s use of technology, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), was also subject to criticism for its patchy deployment and failure to adhere to its own guidelines for transparent and real-time results transmission.
The report ended by saying that INEC’s performance has raised concerns about electoral integrity and accountability, as only 23 percent of the public had trust in the commission going into the election.
To ensure Nigeria’s path to recovery and stability, strict transparency and adherence to electoral laws and guidelines are crucial. The need for electoral reforms and measures to combat disenfranchisement and irregularities remains urgent to build public trust and promote inclusive democracy in Nigeria.
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