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Nigerians voted with their feet, why?

It is hackneyed that voters will turn out in massive numbers to vote in an election if the following factors suffice: the voting process is simple and understandable; the voting area (polling unit/voting point) is accessible; they trust their votes will count and will not be stolen; they can vote in a safe and secure environment; there is a trusted candidate/party on the ballot and they are passionate to vote to office, among others.

As noted earlier, the commitment of Nigerians to the democratic process is never in doubt. This commitment was evidenced in the enormous challenges voters had to endure in order to take part in the voting. One of the iconic photos that emerged from the elections was that of an informed old woman being carried on the back of a young man to be helped to cast her ballot at a polling booth in Lagos. Sadly, such determination and commitment to the process is not rewarded with the much talked about “dividend of democracy” and better life.

This is what played out in Lagos during the governorship election. The violent incidents of voter suppression in some parts of the state during the presidential election forced many voters to stay away from the election venues especially in areas like Okota, Ago, Aguda etc where thugs chased away voters and destroyed voting materials in broad daylight. Polling unit after polling unit, voters were conspicuous by their absence. The result is that the total number of accredited voters during the presidential election was higher than the turnout in the governorship election by 190, 416!

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