22 August 2021

The recent local government elections held in Lagos and Ogun states have brought to the fore the need to address the recurring problem of voters’ indifference to polls, FRIDAY OLOKOR reports

Since Nigeria return’s to democracy in 1999, elections in the country have been marred by various challenges, such as violence, ballot box snatching, fraud and voters’ apathy. Of all these challenges, voters’ apathy has, particularly, been a major challenge, where elections at the local government area level are concerned. This fact was underscored in Lagos and Ogun states on July 24, 2021 when LGA polls were conducted.

Reports from both states indicated that many voters shunned the polls for lack of interest in the exercise, fear of electoral violence, and lack of faith in the outcome of the elections despite efforts by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission to ensure that election materials and personnel got to the various wards early.

The voters’ apathy was so widespread across Lagos’ 20 LGAs and 37 Local Council Development Areas, that YIAGA Africa, in its preliminary report on Lagos State Local Government election of July 24, 2021, said, “Beyond the abysmally low turnout of voters, the elections revealed a persisting capacity deficit with respect to human and financial resources and technical expertise required for successful election administration at the local level. It also revealed the absence of a robust legal framework for LGA elections that can sufficiently guarantee electoral integrity, enable political inclusion and regulate political party conduct in the elections. The election also raises major concerns about the quality of leadership at the local level, the independence and autonomy of local government structure and key institutions like the State Independent Electoral Commission.”