It is fair to say that as Nigeria`s situation has continued to deteriorate, every year that goes by has ended up bringing the country to a place of fresh and piercing challenges.
If things were not so bad before the 2015 general elections, then the ruling All Progressives Congress would not have been as sure of foot as it was when it stood on the monumental failures of the Peoples Democratic Party to tell Nigerians that it was time to look elsewhere.
Nigerians did look elsewhere. But seven years down the line, many Nigerians are wondering if indeed they should have looked elsewhere, and especially if they should have looked at the All Progressives Congress, and the candidate they whitewashed and then brainwashed Nigerians into supporting. Such is the nostalgia and even the nausea.
A hive of insecurity
The greatest challenge Nigerians have had to contend with since 2015 is insecurity. Before 2015, terrorism had already encroached into Nigeria. But the steps the monster had taken then were at best baby steps, the devastating bombings in Madalla in 2014 and other similar terror attacks notwithstanding.
The story has since changed from 2015. Emboldened by the weak response of the Nigerian state, the menace which was largely restricted to Borno State in the Northeast has since spread to neighbouring states. As Boko Haram has spread its tentacles, it has splintered into different equally deadly groups. Equally alarming is the fact that the group has shown other forms of terrorism like banditry that devastating attacks on Nigerians and the Nigerian state is possible with little or no consequences.
With the terrorists rapidly gaining grounds, they have added the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria`s seat of power, to the cities in their crosshairs.
A deadly combination
For many Nigerians, between raging insecurity and rampaging poverty, there is no easy choice because while hunger gnaws at Nigerian intestines, fear torments the heart – fear of those who can nonchalantly halt a moving train, kill more than half a dozen passengers on it, abduct others and keep them for months.
Fresh registrants versus festering apathy
Data from previous general elections in Nigeria show that Nigeria has never lacked for registered voters. What the country has always lacked is the number who go out on election days to vote.
This invariably shows that between those who grumble that votes don’t count in Nigeria and those who hang back in their houses on election days for fear of violence, there are indeed many who simply do not vote, losing out on performing a key civic duty in the process.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, between June 2021 when the continuous voter registration exercise resumed and its close on July 31, 2022, about 10.49 million new voters were added to the election register, with about 84 per cent of them young people aged 34 and below.
According to INEC, there were about 84 million registered voters during the last election in 2019. With the new figures, the total number of registered voters in Nigeria should be closing in on 100 million which is about half of Nigeria`s entire population which is set to reach 216 million by November.
It warms the heart that many of these new voters are young people. The hope is that they will run the race till the end. Experience has shown that those who foster bad governance in Nigeria have always reveled in the simultaneous struggles of Nigeria`s electoral body and voter apathy.
However, as the country has continued to fall apart at the hands of those who benefited from a historic turning of tables at the polls in 2015, Nigerians must remember that they can take their destiny into their own hands in 2023 and summarily retire many of those who do not care if Nigeria burns, either because they are close to their graves or have their sights set elsewhere.