VOTER BEHAVIOUR AND THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA
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This study inquires into, and surveys opinion of Nigerians on some of the factors that influence low voters’ participation and apathy in the Nigerian electoral process. This study made use of data elicited from respondents’ of the three Senatorial Districts of Edo State, Nigeria. The exercise was undertaken against the backdrop of common desire of Nigerians for the attainment of credibility in the country’s electoral process, which would facilitate the consolidation of democracy obtained by legitimacy. The subject of discussion has been if the political behaviour and susceptibility of the Nigerian electorates are supportive or otherwise in relation to the identified factors impacting on the credibility of the electoral process in Nigeria.
The stratified random sampling technique was utilized to select the respondents’ or sample of 1,200 Nigerians, from Edo South, Edo North, and Edo Central Senatorial Districts of Edo State. The structured questionnaire and in-depth interview designed to elicit appropriate and adequate responses on voters’ participatory behaviour in the electoral process, were the measurement instruments utilized. The data gathered were analyzed with the aid of simple percentage, and the Chi-Square and Yule’s Q to test and determine the degree of association intrinsic in the stated hypotheses. Evidence from the study’s results reveal that: the married respondents’ were more likely than their counterparts who are single to have the opinion that voter participation in the electoral process is inhibited by electoral violence and insecurity; the respondents’ who fall within the age bracket of 40 years and above were less likely than their counterparts who fall within the age bracket of below 40 years to have the opinion that the electoral process as conducted by the INEC is credible; the respondents’ who are public servants were more likely than their counterparts who fall within the business and other category to have the opinion that political candidates and parties are failing in their duty to fulfill electoral promises to the electorates in Nigeria; the respondents’ with tertiary education were less likely than their counterparts with secondary education/less to have the opinion that the INEC/Political Parties are sufficiently educating the electorates on the electoral process in Nigeria; and the male respondents’ were less likely than their female counterparts to have the opinion that long hours/tedious registration and voting processes hinders voters’ participation in the electoral process in Nigeria. At the end of the study, some policy advice or recommendations were made, these include:
- The need for the INEC to conduct transparent and credible elections, improve voters’ registration process, educate voters’ sufficiently, etc.
- The need for the Political Parties and Politicians to ensure internal party democracy, organizes political rallies well, provide responsible representation, fulfill electoral promise made during the campaign, etc.
- The need for the government to provide support to the INEC, provide adequate protection for voters’, ensure the independence of the INEC, etc.
- The need for the electorates to make the right choice, resist the temptation to sell votes, makes necessary sacrifices for political development and nation building, etc.
Thus, the achievement of credibility, fairness and effective voters’ participation in the electoral process, would require the collaboration of all relevant stakeholders in the Nigeria polity.