With support of MacArthur Foundation, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) says it successfully organised a National Roundtable on Inclusive Elections last March ending.
According to the civic group, the roundtable was aimed at developing a shared understanding of the issue of declining civic engagement in Nigeria and for stakeholders to agree on best practices for inclusive elections ahead of the 2023 general elections.
‘’The conversations at the event highlighted several issues that need to be addressed to improve participation and the quality of elections in Nigeria.
‘’Also, a report on a study by us titled, Report on Inclusivity in Nigeria’s Elections was presented and disseminated at the event’’, PLAC said on its website.
Undoubtedly, participation of all citizens in formal political processes is fundamental for democracy and Election Management Bodies (EMB) and other stakeholders who have crucial roles to play in empowering marginalized persons to participate in formal political processes.
Nigeria’s elections still exclude significant proportions of the population including women, youths and people with disabilities.
For instance, the level of women’s participation in government is very low. In the recent 2019 general elections, the numbers of elected women lawmakers in the National Assembly were very low and indeed decreased from 22 to the new low of 13 in the House of Representatives.
Young persons, as well as persons with disabilities complained about exclusion from participation in politics. The marginalization of critical segments of the Nigerian society from participation in politics means that a significant portion of the population is excluded from participation and decision making.
This work is a veritable attempt targeted at examining the efforts of electoral stakeholders towards an improved election administration and consolidation of the democratic process in Nigeria.
It has been initiated, nursed, and undertaken by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) with support from the MacArthur Foundation as a way of underscoring inclusive citizens’ engagement in the electioneering process.
Continuing, PLAC says ‘’a core objective of the study is to promote social inclusion and citizens’ awareness of the electoral process.
‘’To achieve this, the scope of the report covered the participation of disadvantaged groups: women, young persons, internally displaced persons and persons with disabilities in the Policy recommendations that will help improve and promote voter awareness, knowledge of electoral laws, and processes, as well as educate first time voters and encourage voter registration have been offered accordingly.
‘’This is intended at enhancing voter participation in the electoral process and to gain a better understanding of the reasons why marginalized groups may or may not participate in the electoral process. The report also reveals the barriers experienced by Nigerians in exercising their right to vote.’’
Africa Polling Institute (API) was commissioned by PLAC to carry out a survey amongst citizens and key informants. Research findings from the survey will help election stakeholders implement public education and information programs to make the electoral process better known to the public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights.
Specific objectives include the following: Determine to what extent electoral participation varies across marginalized groups; examine the specific barriers that marginalized groups encounter that limit their electoral participation; and identify possible causes behind low turnout among marginalized groups and isolate those causes that can be addressed by the Election Management Body, INEC.
The other is recommended values, attitudes and behaviours associated with voting that can be leveraged through outreach strategies to increase the electoral participation of marginalized groups.