The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan is asking the leadership of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to increase the membership drive from 40 million to 100 million ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Apart from the mass registration of members, Lawan is also calling on leadership and stakeholders of the APC to give more room for youths involvement in governance.
Lawan made the calls in Abuja while granting audience to APC Progressive Youths National Lobby Committee led by its Chairman, Barrister Ismail Ahmed. The meeting was held at the National Assembly on Thursday.
According to Lawan, though the 40 million members registered by the party in the last membership revalidation and re-registration exercise, is good but not good enough.
“Many Nigerians on account of the impressive performance of the party at the centre and the various states under it within the last six years, want to join the party but couldn’t do so in the last exercise due to inadequate publicity of the exercise.
“The party leadership and stakeholders across the various age brackets need to do more. I am not satisfied with the 40 million that have registered, Lawan was quoted as saying.
Lawan said there is more work to be done by the APC in terms of mobilisation and galvanisation of interested Nigerians to increase the figure from 40 million to 100 million before the 2023 general elections.
Politicians in Nigeria especially the lawmakers seem not to be concerned about the massive voter apathy ravaging the country as a result of obsolete laws that made it possible for election rigging, manipulation, thuggery and violence in the electoral circle.
The concern of our lawmakers is political party partisanship and accumulation of an unverified number of members that may not vote during elections.
While the constitution and the electoral act forbid political office holders from using public facilities to hold political meetings that are partisan in nature, the case is different, the laws are observed in the breach.
Nigerians clamoured for electronic voting and electronic transmission of elections results in the electoral act amendment bill and made presentations to that effect as attested by Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC), Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) and various groups including CSOs but the lawmakers, the Senate in particular, went backward, proposing the whittle down of power and independent of INEC.
In clause 52 (3) the Senate is proposing that INEC is to seek advice from the National Assembly and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to determine when and where it is suitable for the electronic transmission of election results.
Having weak electoral laws that provides for manipulation is behind voter apathy because the electorates believed their votes won’t count.
Voter apathy peaked during the 2019 general elections with President Muhammadu Buhari elected by 15 million people even though his party is claiming 40 million people as registered members.
According to a report released by WeVote, a non-partisan Civil Society Organisation, in 2003, voter participation was 69 percent. It later dropped to 57 percent in 2007; to 54 percent in 2011; 44 percent in 2015; and to an all-time low of 35 percent in 2019.
In the 2019 general elections, out of a voting-age population of 106.4 million, only 82 million Nigerians registered to vote, and only 28 million of those registered voters eventually voted, the WeVote report said.
A data analysed from the CIA World Factbook, about 125 million Nigerians will be of voting age in 2023. If the lawmakers are not focused on building institutions that will allow for electoral transparency rather than partisanship, danger lies ahead.