INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega
•As polls predict high voter turn-out
A foremost pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has said the level of desperation amongst politicians in the country is an indication that the 2015 general election may present a war situation and not an exercise for Nigerians to elect leaders of choice.
Afenifere said this yesterday at a press conference in Lagos even as the latest weekly poll results released by NOI Polls have revealed that the 2015 elections will witness high voters turn-out because nine out of 10 registered voters who represent about 90 per cent of the Nigerian population are determined to partake in the choice of who leads them at various strata of the system.
According to the polls results, most Nigerians view the forthcoming elections as an opportunity to elect a good leader and to exercise their voting right; while those who expressed unwillingness to vote attribute it to the perception that their vote may not count.
“These were a few of the key findings from the countdown to the 2015 elections poll conducted in the week of April 15,” the results stated.
But Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, while addressing journalists at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, said the group was worried that a large section of the political class still pretends not to understand the signs of the time and what should be done.
“We have in our hands, a country that appears to be preparing for a war but almost all are pretending that it is all build-up to the next elections. The saber-rattling going on amongst some major party and political actors are not healthy for the democratic project as most of the noise going on is not even about solving any of the major challenges confronting the country but power mongering.
“Rather than create an enabling environment for rational discourse and contestation of ideas for the electorate to be able to make informed choices, many of the political actors are making inflammatory remarks to inflame passion and deepen the divisions within our country to make political gains.
“Afenifere warns these actors to desist from over-heating the polity as no one can predict the outcome of the drive to the cliff that they are propelling the country towards. What the country needs at the moment are statesmen-politicians whose preoccupation should be the next generation and survival of the polity, not just the next elections,” he said.
Afenifere, which also addressed critical areas like insecurity, corruption, unemployment, subsidy and the centenary celebrations, noted that the spate of attacks which come in different forms including terrorism, kidnapping, assassination and armed robbery was worrisome and must be tackled as such.
“The regular killing of defenceless and innocent citizens by blood-thirsty Boko Haram terrorists have been unfortunately complemented by the nefarious activities of kidnappers, assassins, armed robbers and other petty criminals who, seeing themselves as deprived and abandoned are always poised to take a pound of flesh.”
Afenifere however opposed the idea of amnesty for Boko Haram, saying “We agree that granting amnesty in the Niger Delta region per se is in order. But we find it hard to defend the monumental abuse going on, especially among the elite managers of the scheme and are disturbed as to whether the scheme will bring a lasting peace given episodic restlessness still being demonstrated.
“It is with this at the back of our mind that we have been so skeptical about the so-called amnesty for Boko Haram which is a much more dangerous group than the Niger Delta insurgents who were known and demands were clear.”
On the issue of corruption, Afenifere said there were worrying signals that the scourge of corruption may have become the fifth estate in Nigeria given the way it was being promoted almost like a directive objective of state police, adding that “it is not only that state officials are corrupt, but corruption has become official.”
While advising government to shelve the idea of fuel subsidy removal because it might lead to social upheaval that the nation can ill-afford at the time, given the many tensions across the country, the group said government should be transparent in the management of the oil sector by implementing the recommendations from both the House of Representatives and the Nuhu Ribadu Committees.
It also decried the rate of unemployment in the country which it described as fallout of the mismanagement of the economy and wanton corruption in the country, even as it decried the celebration of the nation’s centenary with pomp and fanfare.
However, from its poll on the 2015 elections which is two years away from now this month, NOI noted that preparatory to the election, “there have been lots of political activities gradually building up to 2015. These include debates in the political sphere on who should or should not fly the presidential flag for the ruling political party in the next presidential election and media reports on the merger of the three major opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC), with a view to wrest power from the ruling PDP.
“Previous elections in Nigeria have been characterised with high levels of voter apathy, which has been blamed on election fraud and violence amongst other reasons. Against this background, NOI Polls has conducted this latest poll as the first in the ‘Countdown to the 2015 elections’ series. We will officially start the Elections Polls (Countdown to 2015) in collaboration with Gallup in Q4 2013.”
“The poll asked people five specific questions to respondents. The first question sought to establish the expectations of Nigerians about the 2015 elections. Respondents were asked: Are you looking forward to the 2015 elections? Nationwide results show that the overwhelming majority (91 per cent) answered affirmatively indicating they are indeed looking forward to the 2015 elections while nine per cent responded negatively.
“Analyzing results in more detail highlights some interesting facts. In general, more male respondents are looking forward to the elections when compared to female respondents. Also, the South-west has the highest proportion of respondents (13 per cent) who indicated that they are not looking forward to the elections; while the South-east has the highest proportion of respondents (97 per cent) looking forward to the 2015 elections.
“Respondents were subsequently asked: Are you presently a registered voter? Overall, the majority of respondents and by a considerable margin (84 per cent) indicated that they are presently registered voters, while 16 per cent answered “No”. This result indicating a high proportion of registered voters corroborates the findings of an election poll conducted by NOI Polls in April 2011, where 94 per cent of voters confirmed that they had registered to vote in the 2011 elections.
“Next, registered voters were asked: Would you vote in the 2015 elections? Overall 9 in 10 Nigerians (90 per cent) indicated their readiness to vote in the 2015 elections, compared to 10% who answered “No”, indicating their unwillingness to vote in the elections.
“Finally, all respondents were asked for the reason why they would vote versus the reason why they would not vote. First, respondents that indicated their willingness to vote were asked the following: Why would you vote in the 2015? The main reason why respondents would vote in the 2015 elections is ‘To elect a good leader’ (42%), followed by ‘To exercise my right to vote’ (38%).
“Other reasons include: ‘To vote for a change of government (8%), ‘To vote for my candidate’ (7%) and ‘To vote for good governance’. Interestingly, the result of a similar poll conducted in April 2011 shows that 98% of respondents registered to exercise their right to vote.
According to the poll, respondents that stated their unwillingness to vote were asked the following: “Why wouldn’t you vote in the 2015 elections? Overall, the majority (45%) said they were not willing to vote because they perceive ‘My vote does not count’.
Other reasons mentioned for not voting are: ‘Politicians promise and fail’ (16%), ‘No change in governance’ (11 per cent); ‘There still is corruption in government’ (8 per cent), ‘Lack of credible electioneering system’ (9 per cent) and ‘I may not be available’. More male than female respondents think ‘My vote does not count’ while the North Central has the highest proportion of respondents (67 per cent) who share the same view.”
NOI, therefore, noted that the current results corroborate the findings of a similar poll conducted by NOI Polls in April 2011, where 94 per cent of Nigerians expressed readiness to vote in the 2011 elections. But from the results of this current poll, “the main reasons why people want to vote are because they want to elect a good leader and exercise their right to vote. Conversely, the main reason mentioned by respondents who indicated unwilling to vote is that they do not think their votes would count.”