The Import Of Franchise

What You Get When You (Do Not) Exercise Voting Rights

by Gottfried Moh

The Import Of Franchise

As the INEC chairman announced the results of the Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states, there was a collective gasp across cyberspace, perhaps resigning to the fact that the final blow had been dealt to any hopes of Atikulation. The Northern region has once again played a huge role in deciding who becomes President of Nigeria.

President Mohammadu Buhari, the incumbent running under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was in high spirits as the elections drew nearer. Asked by a media personality at the polling booth whether he was willing to concede defeat in the event it happens, Buhari made an iconic remark that set the tone for the way the elections played out. He said “I will congratulate myself because I will emerge the winner”.

Atiku Abubakar, the opposition candidate, was thrown into the thick of things after support groups purchased Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms on his behalf under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in respect of the 2019 presidential elections. The gesture drove him to tears as he accepted the mandate to “run against the establishment”. Of course he embarked on a strong campaign and fought a good fight, coming second in what was touted to be a two-horse race.

PDP won every Presidential election between 1999 and 2011, and was in power until things drastically changed at the 2015 elections. Apparently the winless run continues as once again, the famed party has lost yet another Presidential election to a party that (allegedly) got formed by former party members who decamped to (what is now) the winning side.

Senator Bukola Saraki seemed to sacrifice his own personal pursuits to focus on a ferocious all-out campaign for the Peoples’ Democratic Party. Having lost his seat in the senate, the loss of his party candidate is sort of a double whammy. It would seem that a quiet four years are approaching. Fair play to him, he was indeed gracious in defeat.

For Nigerians in the Southeastern and South-southern states, the results of this election serve as a rude awakening to their response to the civic responsibility of voting. In Anambra state for instance, of the 1.7 million accredited voters, barely 400,000 people turned out to vote on Election Day. People were too preoccupied to come out and vote their desired candidate. One would argue that in the grand scheme of things, their votes would pale in comparison to the numbers from the North and South-west, so does that make for a “functional” boycott of the elections?

For those in the North, they clearly got their wish. By turning out massively to vote, they’ve once again emerged victorious extending the margin from 2.6 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2019. To be fair, they always held the cards: the two Presidential candidates were from the same region (Atiku from Jada in Adamawa state and Buhari from Daura in Katsina state), so it was basically a win-win situation.