ANALYSIS: Why 2023 elections may increase ‘japa’, voter apathy among  youths

 ANALYSIS: Why 2023 elections may increase ‘japa’, voter apathy among  youths

Every four years, Nigerians head to the polls to elect leaders to serve them at federal, state, and local government levels.

The electioneering process has been keenly contested by political actors over the years.

Unlike previous elections when Nigerians were limited to two major political parties — the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — the 2023 general election witnessed a third force with the emergence of the Labour Party (LP).

The emergence of the third force, led by Peter Obi, LP’s presidential candidate, gave the people more options to vote for their preferred candidates at the polls.

Several factors made Obi a significant force during the elections.

The APC pushed forward the same faith (Muslim-Muslim) ticket of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima which did not sit well with many Nigerians, particularly Christians.

The PDP also flouted its own rules by not zoning the presidency to the southern part of the country.

After eight years of northern presidency, the PDP were defiant and presented Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa as its presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The foregoing made many embrace Obi’s LP as an alternative to the PDP and the APC. The former governor of Anambra state had selected Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Kaduna-born businessman and scholar, as his vice-presidential candidate.

Many perceived Obi-Datti’s candidacy as a balanced and equitable ticket as well as a departure from the status quo in the country’s political landscape.

Months before the election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) promised Nigerians credible, free and fair elections which will be guaranteed by its innovation — the Bimodal Vote Accreditation System (BVAS).

INEC also promised real-time transmission of the election results through the INEC Election Result Viewer (IReV) for transparency.


At a meeting with members of political parties at INEC commission’s headquarters in January 2023, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed that the total number of eligible voters for the elections rose by 49,054,162 or 11.3 per cent from the 84,004,084 recorded in the 2019 general elections to 93,469,008 eligible voters in 2023.

Yakubu also disclosed 49,054,162 or 52.5 per cent of the total voters are male while the remaining 44,414,846 or 47.5 per cent were female voters.

He added that 37,060,399 or 39.65 per cent of voters are between the ages of 18 and 34; while 33,413,591 or 35.75 per cent are middle-aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49.

The INEC chairman also said 17,700,270 or 18.94 per cent of the total registered voters are elderly voters between the ages of 50 and 69, just as the remaining 5,294,748 or 5.66 per cent are senior citizens above the age of 70.

This means by age classification, the youth had the largest population of eligible voters for the elections.


The aforementioned promises by INEC and the federal government gave so much hope to Nigerians who looked forward to the best election in the country’s history.

But the commission failed to walk its talk during the elections.

The polls were marred by violence, ethnic, and religious bigotry in major cities across the country, especially Lagos where many youths were denied the opportunity to vote for their desired candidates at the presidential and governorship polls.

The BVAS also malfunctioned in many areas, coupled with the late arrival of INEC personnel.

Ballot boxes were snatched while many voters, especially youths, were brutalised and sustained varying degrees of injuries.


The outcome of the 2023 elections has dampened the heightened hopes of many Nigerians, especially the youths, in the country.

Since the election ended, many Nigerians have continued to express their grievances at the situation of things in the country.

The LP and the PDP have also filed petitions challenging the outcome of the elections, alleging irregularities in the process that produced Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election.

Political commentators observe that the development could increase voter apathy in future elections in the country, as people will find it difficult to trust INEC for a credible election.

The situation, according to them, would also bring about massive emigration of youths from the country.

Several youths have openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the election outcome. A few of them took to social media to destroy their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) while vowing they would not participate in any election in the country again.

Speaking with CRISPNG, an INEC ad-hoc staff in Minna, Niger state, said though there were no hitches in her polling unit for the presidential and state governorship elections, she was shocked by the level of gross misconduct witnessed in other parts of the state and country at large.

“My polling unit was largely peaceful. I maned the BVAS in my unit and everything went well. However, It was disappointing seeing what happened in other parts of the state and other parts of the country,” she said.

“I participated in the elections because I needed the money to settle some of my bills but personally, I’ve never believed Nigeria’s elections can be credible. On the plans to Japa, that’s the focus for me after my service, to apply for a scholarship and leave this country for those who want to run it down”.

By Victor Akuma

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