As Nigeria holds its sixth election since the country’s return to democracy, the federal government, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other relevant stakeholders are adequately working to ensure a free and fair election. 

In that light, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Act (2022) into law, INEC ensured a free run of party primaries and extended the deadline for voters registration exercise. In all these, there is a critical part to consider, that is ensuring voters come out to exercise their fundamental rights of electing the country’s next set of leaders across all levels of government. 

Here is why
Nigerians’ low turnout on election day is a genuine concern as statistics show that about N255 billion out of the N444.5 billion spent in the last three elections wasted due to the low turnout of voters. The N255 billion amounts to 62% of election funds. 

By the numbers 
INEC uses the number of registered voters as an index for election planning. For the 2011 general elections, INEC spent N139 billion on the 73.5 million registered voters. The commission projected an average cost of N1,893 or $9 per voter. For the 2015 elections, INEC spent N116.3 billion on 68.9 million registered voters at an average cost of N1,691 or $8.5 per voter. In 2019, for the 84 million registered voters, INEC spent N189.2 billion averaging N2,249 or $6.24 per voter.

Of the 84 million voters, only 34.75% of registered Nigerians voted on election day. This figure set a record of the lowest turnout in an African country’s election in 2019 and Nigeria’s lowest ever turnout in an election since 1999. 

What to watch 
The numbers released by the commission as of June 28th stated Nigeria’s voting population stood at 84 million people; “11 million voters more than all registered voters of 14 other countries in the West African and Sahel region.”

  • For the 2023 election, INEC is projecting 95 million voters and a budget of N305 billion. Although some political analysts believe that there is an explanation for the inflated cost, FG and INEC must be cautious in their approach. 
  • To prevent an enormous loss of funds again in the coming election, INEC and the federal government need to develop workable measures to encourage participation by Nigerians. 
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