In 2015, we launched GoVote Nigeria, a project aimed at increasing citizen participation in Nigeria’s electoral process, with a focus on young people who make up over 50% of the population. Nigeria’s elections have historically suffered from low voter turnout, with the 2015 and 2019 elections having particularly high levels of apathy, with less than half of registered voters turning up to vote due to voter disinterest. However, in the upcoming 2023 general elections, there seems to be more enthusiasm amongst voters to come out and vote for their preferred candidates.
To evaluate changes in voter attitudes and behaviour towards the electoral process, we conducted both physical and online surveys, collecting a total of 2,600 responses from different regions in Nigeria. The majority of respondents were between 18 and 54 years old, with 61% male and 39% female. On average, respondents said they were fairly informed about the issues and candidates in the upcoming elections, thanks to increased awareness from digital and social media, the use of digital tools by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accelerate voter information, the work of GoVote, and the collaboration of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Although respondents had moderate confidence in the integrity and fairness of the polls, they believed it was important to cast their vote due to dissatisfaction with the current political leaders and a desire for change in government. The majority of respondents believed that the massive turnout for Permanent Voter Card (PVC) registration would influence voter turnout since a greater number of the electorate are ready to vote and encourage others within their circle of influence to vote.
Compared to the 2015 and 2019 elections, where voter turnout was about 35%, the attitude of voters towards the upcoming 2023 polls appears to be high. Respondents had mixed views on the confidence they had in the accuracy and integrity of the polls, satisfaction levels with the voting process, ease of voting, comfort during voting, and how much their votes influenced the outcome of the polls during the last election. However, a greater percentage of the electorate was willing to vote and encourage others to vote during the upcoming polls. Most respondents conducted research and followed updates on candidates and political issues through the news.
Lastly, citizens agreed that political socialization and civic education were important tools in shaping the electorate’s perception of governance. According to the survey data, the majority of citizens considered voting in the upcoming elections extremely important, accounting for a total of 63%.