A National Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Lai Olorode, has identified poverty and insecurity as a factor militating against voter apathy in elections.
Olorode told newsmen on Thursday in Lagos that there had not been “a thorough battle” against poverty in Nigeria since 2004.
It will be recalled that political observers have said that the turnout of voters in recent elections have been very low, especially when compared with the turnout during the April 2011 elections.
Governorship elections held in Cross River and Bayelsa were characterised by voter apathy, a situation, which a cross section of observer groups attributed to lack of enlightenment and voter education.
“The security situation and the rising level of poverty is a factor that has deprived people from coming out to vote in elections.
“If these issues are not addressed before 2015, it may be difficult to convince voters of the need for them to come out to exercise their franchise,” he said.
According to him, poverty has become more excruciating since 2004.
The commissioner urged the Local, State and Federal Governments to do more in addressing these issues and to impress the average Nigerians, saying “the ball is at the door step of those in government”.
“In the context of poor governance, generally speaking, I am not sure what we have seen since 1999 are really too good or too motivating for the ordinary person on the street to really feel a sense of enthusiasm to troop out to vote,” he said.
He said that it was only good governance that could bring out the electorate out to exercise their civic rights.
“Our role is to make sure we organise a true and fair, credible election which I think we have tried to do.
“Of course there are pit falls, there are holes here and there but we have tried our best,” he said.
He added that the commission had just concluded a study on voter apathy hoping that the trend would be reversed before 2015.
Malam Auawl Rafsanjani, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), argued that the reason electorate no longer have interest in elections was because politicians did not allow Nigerians to elect a candidate of their choice.
“The solution to this is for the politicians and political parties to allow Nigerians to elect candidates of their choice and let the true results be reflected.
“They know that the people would be able to participate in the process but if they knew that after they cast their votes other result would be announced, it would further discourage and demoralise them from coming out,” he said.
Rafsanjani, however, said for the country to move forward, political parties and politicians must begin to respect the results of the elections or the votes of the people.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, National Chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), urged those elected to ensure that they satisfied the needs of the people.
“The voters do not think their votes will count because of rigging and they do not see clear and qualitative difference between one candidate and another or between the parties sponsoring the candidates,” he said.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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