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...Because Of Our Tomorrow

Make Voting Compulsory by Law in Nigeria

Updated on : Thursday, 21 October, 2021
Released on: Thursday, 21 October, 2021

Read (518) |

Join BOOT Party
Tweet #DutyToVoteNaija

In less than two years, Nigerians will go to the polls in what is likely to be a tense and highly unpredictable general elections. This is because the incumbent would have completed the maximum two-terms allowed by the Constitution for the office of the Commander-In- Chief; the noise about restructuring would likely have reached a deafening decibel; regional agitators would have increased; and at minimum corrupt politicians would be gearing up to lay hands on the national cake at any cost. Most importantly, members of all political parties will have a say in who becomes their parties' flagbearers. This is on the assumption that the House of Representatives follows the Senate with the approval of Direct Primaries method and the president assent to the new amendments to the Electoral Act.

As with past elections, many Nigerians will not vote and many will not even be registered to vote in the first place. INEC data showed that only 35% of registered voters turned out to vote in the 2019 general elections for president. Only 18% of registered voters elected the president - it is estimated that about 10% of eligible voters elected the president. In addition, available INEC data showed a continued decline in the numbers of voters since 2003 general elections. Still fresh in our memory is the recent Edo State governorship election where only 13% of registered voters elected the governor - estimated fewer than 10% of eligible voters elected the governor. If taken into account, the voters that were "induced" by "politicians' gifts" then the numbers of Nigerians that wilfully vote in elections, the numbers of voters will be reduced.

Just as in previous elections, millions of eligible voters will not turn out and many more will not be registered to vote in the first place. Estimating from previous general elections and the Nigerian population growth about 120 million eligible voters would not vote because they are either not registered to vote or they did not turn out to vote on the day of election. In a population of estimated 222 million this is too low by any standards.

The right to vote is the most fundamental tenet of democracy and yet many millions of Nigerians do not exercise it. Neither the Electoral Act nor the Nigerian constitution made it mandatory for Nigerians to vote. Among other provisions, qualification for registration to vote in Nigeria according to Section 12 (1) a-b of 2010 Electoral Act is that a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person: a) is a citizen of Nigeria and b) has attained the age of 18 years.

Arguments against compulsory voting, including that it violates democratic freedom does not outweigh the benefits compulsory voting will give. In most nations like USA and the UK where arguments against compulsory voting are sustained; they have well over 50% voters' turnout. In addition, freedom of movement of Nigerians is restricted during general elections but surprisingly, the purpose of this restriction of movement (voting) is not compulsory. This is the paradox of Nigeria election and it is a "political debt" the current generation must put paid to. This paradox only favours corrupt politicians.

Who benefits when Nigerians do not vote? Obviously, it is the corrupt politicians who are only interested in the resources of the nation instead of national service. How? It is simple and easier for corrupt politicians to buy votes from a fraction of the populace than to build infrastructure or fund policies that will help human development.

Our democracy and country are facing increasing crises. We need to take action to make elections participation more accessible to Nigerians and convince the public that it is worth voting in election. Make no mistakes, all talks about restructuring and referendum will amount to nothing if these are still left in the hands of a few and not the many. The level of political participation in Nigeria is low hence why the executive and legislature make policies and laws that do not serve the people.

Is it time that the right to vote be made into a duty to vote? We at the BOOT Party believe so hence why we conducted a research in 2020, where we asked Nigerians two simple questions:

1. Do you agree that Participation in Election will increase if Voting is made Compulsory by law?; and
2. Will you vote if election is made compulsory in Nigeria by law?.

Surprisingly, at least 85% of respondents including Nigerians at home and in diaspora, said they agreed for voting to be made compulsory by law and that they will vote if voting is made compulsory by law.

As at 2021, Congo, Egypt and Gabon are among the countries where voting is compulsory for their citizens. According to IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) data, Nigeria will achieve over 7% increase in voters' turnout if voting is made compulsory. What is most surprising is that in many nations, one of the electoral processes is compulsory by law. For example, in the UK, eligible voters are required by law to register to vote or face fine. Again, the politicians benefit when eligible voters refuse to vote. One thing the COVID-19 has shown to the world is that people generally like to be told what to do by their government, even in developed nations.

Therefore, before e-voting, restructuring, referendum and many discussed "solutions" to the Nigerian problems, an amendment to the Electoral Act to make one of the processes of election to be compulsory should be made. It is long overdue, at the minimum, the BOOT Party recommends that voting should be mandatory for all adults between the ages of 18 and 70 and optional for those over 70 among other exemptions. Clearly, in all elections conducted in Nigerian since 2003, those who did not vote are greater in number than those that elected the winners of those elections. This social and election fraud is undemocratic and should be stopped for our democracy to flourish. This is the minimum that government can do to get more people to the polling booths.

In addition, the BOOT Party is of the opinion that making voting compulsory by law will stop or reduce cases of vote buying and voters inducement. It will make whoever emerge as leaders to serve the people knowing fully well that the only way to get the masses' votes is to serve them.

This will represent a radical shift from the voluntary principle in which the Nigerian electoral system has been based since 1999. While high turnout may not necessarily translate into political participation but it will be a good starting point. Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust and there cannot be trust when only a few and not the majority of eligible voters elect our leaders. If government does not offer this solution, which is the easiest among all others, the future of Nigerian democracy looks very bleak.

The current Senate seems to have appetite for changing the Nigerian political landscape considering the passage of the direct primaries for all political parties. They should go further to make changes to the Electoral Act to make voting compulsory. This law should at the minimum serve as notice to all citizens what is required of them under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sonny Adenuga @SonnyAdenuga
BOOT Party National Chairman
BOOT Party! @TheBOOTParty


Because Of Our Tomorrow
The BOOT Party is a cooperative-like political leadership system.

Send Feedback

WhatsApp: +234-705-774-9595

Signing up is free.
Join BOOT Party and Get Involved!

Download BOOT Party App to
Vote in BOOT Party Election Primaries

Donate Because Nigeria Matters

Make Voting Compulsory by Law in Nigeria

Updated on : Thursday, 21 October, 2021
Released on: Thursday, 21 October, 2021

Read (518) |

Join BOOT Party
Tweet #DutyToVoteNaija

In less than two years, Nigerians will go to the polls in what is likely to be a tense and highly unpredictable general elections. This is because the incumbent would have completed the maximum two-terms allowed by the Constitution for the office of the Commander-In- Chief; the noise about restructuring would likely have reached a deafening decibel; regional agitators would have increased; and at minimum corrupt politicians would be gearing up to lay hands on the national cake at any cost. Most importantly, members of all political parties will have a say in who becomes their parties' flagbearers. This is on the assumption that the House of Representatives follows the Senate with the approval of Direct Primaries method and the president assent to the new amendments to the Electoral Act.

As with past elections, many Nigerians will not vote and many will not even be registered to vote in the first place. INEC data showed that only 35% of registered voters turned out to vote in the 2019 general elections for president. Only 18% of registered voters elected the president - it is estimated that about 10% of eligible voters elected the president. In addition, available INEC data showed a continued decline in the numbers of voters since 2003 general elections. Still fresh in our memory is the recent Edo State governorship election where only 13% of registered voters elected the governor - estimated fewer than 10% of eligible voters elected the governor. If taken into account, the voters that were "induced" by "politicians' gifts" then the numbers of Nigerians that wilfully vote in elections, the numbers of voters will be reduced.

Just as in previous elections, millions of eligible voters will not turn out and many more will not be registered to vote in the first place. Estimating from previous general elections and the Nigerian population growth about 120 million eligible voters would not vote because they are either not registered to vote or they did not turn out to vote on the day of election. In a population of estimated 222 million this is too low by any standards.

The right to vote is the most fundamental tenet of democracy and yet many millions of Nigerians do not exercise it. Neither the Electoral Act nor the Nigerian constitution made it mandatory for Nigerians to vote. Among other provisions, qualification for registration to vote in Nigeria according to Section 12 (1) a-b of 2010 Electoral Act is that a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person: a) is a citizen of Nigeria and b) has attained the age of 18 years.

Arguments against compulsory voting, including that it violates democratic freedom does not outweigh the benefits compulsory voting will give. In most nations like USA and the UK where arguments against compulsory voting are sustained; they have well over 50% voters' turnout. In addition, freedom of movement of Nigerians is restricted during general elections but surprisingly, the purpose of this restriction of movement (voting) is not compulsory. This is the paradox of Nigeria election and it is a "political debt" the current generation must put paid to. This paradox only favours corrupt politicians.

Who benefits when Nigerians do not vote? Obviously, it is the corrupt politicians who are only interested in the resources of the nation instead of national service. How? It is simple and easier for corrupt politicians to buy votes from a fraction of the populace than to build infrastructure or fund policies that will help human development.

Our democracy and country are facing increasing crises. We need to take action to make elections participation more accessible to Nigerians and convince the public that it is worth voting in election. Make no mistakes, all talks about restructuring and referendum will amount to nothing if these are still left in the hands of a few and not the many. The level of political participation in Nigeria is low hence why the executive and legislature make policies and laws that do not serve the people.

Is it time that the right to vote be made into a duty to vote? We at the BOOT Party believe so hence why we conducted a research in 2020, where we asked Nigerians two simple questions:

1. Do you agree that Participation in Election will increase if Voting is made Compulsory by law?; and
2. Will you vote if election is made compulsory in Nigeria by law?.

Surprisingly, at least 85% of respondents including Nigerians at home and in diaspora, said they agreed for voting to be made compulsory by law and that they will vote if voting is made compulsory by law.

As at 2021, Congo, Egypt and Gabon are among the countries where voting is compulsory for their citizens. According to IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) data, Nigeria will achieve over 7% increase in voters' turnout if voting is made compulsory. What is most surprising is that in many nations, one of the electoral processes is compulsory by law. For example, in the UK, eligible voters are required by law to register to vote or face fine. Again, the politicians benefit when eligible voters refuse to vote. One thing the COVID-19 has shown to the world is that people generally like to be told what to do by their government, even in developed nations.

Therefore, before e-voting, restructuring, referendum and many discussed "solutions" to the Nigerian problems, an amendment to the Electoral Act to make one of the processes of election to be compulsory should be made. It is long overdue, at the minimum, the BOOT Party recommends that voting should be mandatory for all adults between the ages of 18 and 70 and optional for those over 70 among other exemptions. Clearly, in all elections conducted in Nigerian since 2003, those who did not vote are greater in number than those that elected the winners of those elections. This social and election fraud is undemocratic and should be stopped for our democracy to flourish. This is the minimum that government can do to get more people to the polling booths.

In addition, the BOOT Party is of the opinion that making voting compulsory by law will stop or reduce cases of vote buying and voters inducement. It will make whoever emerge as leaders to serve the people knowing fully well that the only way to get the masses' votes is to serve them.

This will represent a radical shift from the voluntary principle in which the Nigerian electoral system has been based since 1999. While high turnout may not necessarily translate into political participation but it will be a good starting point. Like a marriage, democracy cannot survive without trust and there cannot be trust when only a few and not the majority of eligible voters elect our leaders. If government does not offer this solution, which is the easiest among all others, the future of Nigerian democracy looks very bleak.

The current Senate seems to have appetite for changing the Nigerian political landscape considering the passage of the direct primaries for all political parties. They should go further to make changes to the Electoral Act to make voting compulsory. This law should at the minimum serve as notice to all citizens what is required of them under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sonny Adenuga @SonnyAdenuga
BOOT Party National Chairman
BOOT Party! @TheBOOTParty


Because Of Our Tomorrow
The BOOT Party is a cooperative-like political leadership system.

Send Feedback

WhatsApp: +234-705-774-9595

Signing up is free.
Join BOOT Party and Get Involved!

Download BOOT Party App to
Vote in BOOT Party Election Primaries

Donate Because Nigeria Matters

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