As you read this, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be conducting governorship election in Ihiala local government area of Anambra State geared towards concluding the Anambra State governorship election, which started on Saturday November 6, 2021 and was declared inconclusive by the election returning officer.
The Returning Officer of the Anambra State governorship election and vice chancellor of University of Calabar, Professor Florence Obi, had said that a supplementary election would hold in 362 polling units in Ihiala local government area today, November 9.
Citing the constitution, Prof. Obi noted that election has to take place in those polling units for the election to be conclusive. She noted that election did not take place in Ihiala because there were reports of insecurity in the area. The voting today, hopefully, would mark the successful closure of the Anambra gubernatorial election and the official result declaration by INEC.
Already, by the declaration of results in 20 out of the 21 local government areas of the state, democracy has won against the forces of tyranny, impunity and violence.
Despite security threats posed by non-state actors like the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the people of Anambra State came out to vote for the candidate of their choice. The violence that was predicted before the election was not widespread, therefore, its impact on the election was largely in Ihiala LGA. The fact that elections took place at all is a victory for democracy! Although with a very low voter turnout which is emblematic of the growing loss of confidence in our democracy by the citizenry.
It has been estimated that perhaps less than 20 per cent of the eligible registered voters in Anambra State actually came out to vote in this election. Low voter turnout is usually considered worrisome because it means that a minority determined the outcome. Low voter participation is not desired because elections are the foundational process that determines the decisions that would be made in a modern democracy.
If there continues to be a lack of voter turnout, the election will only represent a small sample of the overall population. While voting is not the only important factor, it is indeed its foundation and it is necessary for it to thrive, and continue.
The reason low voter turnout is so devastating to democracy is that the people are not accurately represented, therefore, the state or country continues to function based on the opinion of a small group of people. The few people who vote make the decisions, even if those decisions do not benefit the state or the country as a whole.
If we continue to let low voter turnout persist without more people getting involved, then this democracy will cease to exist in the true sense of the concept of democracy as majority rule. One way to increase our voter turnout is to increase citizens’ interest in politics. When people feel more connected to their politicians and the laws they pass, they are more likely to show their support or disapproval.
This burden of engaging in the political process falls heavily on citizens, because they bear the brunt of wrong people in power! Also, it is certainly not true that one individual vote can not change an election, a reason cited by many people for choosing not to vote. If everyone believes their vote will not have an impact, then the masses will fail to make their voices heard.
Fact is that in a democracy, each and every vote counts and each voter has the potential of breaking a tie!
In Anambra, it was also reported that there was widespread vote buying by the various political parties on election day! This brings to the fore, the need to enforce enabling laws to punish culprits, unfortunately, security agents seem to sadly acquiescence to such illegal activities in our elections.
To the credit of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, it has made effort to use technology to make our elections seamless! Despite, their best efforts the technology seems to disappoint when it matters most. In the election in Anambra there were several reported cases of the malfunction of the Biomodal Voters Authentication System (BVAS)!
In many polling units according to reports, the machines malfunctioned and were not able to authenticate many voters’ fingerprints, the machines also failed at facial recognition, thus making the entire process slow and cumbersome. It is hoped that lessons would have been learned from this in order to have a better outcome in 2023, when the technology would be deployed nationwide in all the voting units across the country.
The security agencies that provided the enabling environment for the voters to cast their votes deserve the commendation of well meaning Nigerians. Indeed, people were apprehensive of the safety of voters in Anambra.
The election shows that our democracy needs constant vigilance of all Nigerians but more importantly, democracy can fully thrive when elected office holders keep to the promises they made while campaigning to be elected. That is the only way democracy will have a sincere citizen buy-in.