Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, says with new leadership that will soon take over the administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he is hopeful that the party will begin to take actions that will show Nigerians that it is different and ready to work for Nigerians’ best interest.
Makinde, who maintained that elective officeholders on the platform of the PDP must show that the party is ready to engender good governance at all levels, added that there is a connection between the performance of elective officeholders and the high level of voter apathy in the country.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde, who chaired one of the sessions at the retreat for newly-elected PDP Officers, held in Abuja, urged the party to end voter apathy by mobilising women and youths, who represent critical segments of the voting population.
According to the governor, the PDP must address the issue of voter apathy ahead of the 2023 general election, as the results of the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections showed that less than 30 million voters participated in each of the elections, whereas, the number of registered voters was just below 85 million.
He stated, however, that in order to address the issue of youth and women participation in politics, the party must deal with the issue of elective officeholders breaching the trust and confidence of voters.
He said: “I would like you to bear in mind, each time the speakers mention youth, that Nigeria has a population of about 78 million persons who fall between the ages of 16 and 40, and when they say women, we should be thinking in terms of about 100 million persons.
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“So, in total, we are discussing a population of about 120 to 140million.
“I have decided to lead with this information because as politicians, we are interested in numbers. The 2015 presidential election was won and lost with a voting population of less than 30 million. In 2019, the figures were similar – less than 30 million people voted. In both cases, the total number of registered voters was just below 85 million.
“From these numbers, we can clearly see that we have an election participation problem. “First, those eligible to register are not registering to vote. “Second, over 60 percent of those who register, shun the elections.
“So, looking towards 2023, one of the key issues that we need to address is voter apathy and we cannot effectively address youth participation in Nigerian politics and mobilising youth and women in Nigerian politics while ignoring the reason behind this apathy.
“If we are being honest, we will agree that the failure of the political class to make itself relevant to the voting population is chiefly responsible for voter apathy. We over-promise and under-deliver and the citizens pay the price.
“We have a growing population of poor Nigerians and the growing feeling among the youths is that their only hope for economic stability is to leave the country. Why then should they be interested in voting?
“If politicians at all levels make an impact in people’s lives, then they will be more interested in who occupies these positions and who wins the elections.
“So, the solution really begins with us – those of us in this room who are occupying elective positions. What are we doing with the trust we have been given?
“I am hopeful that with this new dispensation, new party leadership, we will begin to take actions that will show Nigerians that the PDP, is different. We need the people to come out and vote because as has been shown, elections are harder to rig when the people are interested in the process.”
The governor added: “Let me leave you with this statistic. In September 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission said that they had over 3 million new voter registrations. Bringing the number of registered voters for the 2023 elections to just about 90 million. If women and youths alone are about 120 million, it tells us that we still have a lot of mobilising to do.
“I hope we see this as a wake-up call and begin now to do our part to end voter apathy.”