In this article, we shall be talking about the significance or importance of voter education in Nigeria in order to inform you, our valued readers, about the various reasons you should register to vote and how your vote is very important in an election year in order to elect the right political officials who will manage the nation’s affairs for as long as their terms are allowed by the constitution.
Voter education can never be overstated, and as we proceed, we will outline why you need to be sensitized before voting for any politician under a particular political party in Nigeria during an election, and we believe that these salient points will inform you on the right things that you as a voter can do to bring about positive change in the country going forward. With that said, let us go over the importance of voter education in Nigeria below. Kindly continue reading to find out more.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VOTER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA TODAY
The following are the various reasons why voter education is very important in Nigeria today:
VOTER EDUCATION MOTIVATES THE ELECTORATE TO VOTE ON ELECTION DAY
The problem of low voter attendance on election day is a key challenge faced by Nigerian elections. There were 84,004,084 registered voters in the 2019 INEC general elections, but only 49.78 percent of them voted – fewer than half of the eligible electorate. Voter education is a tactic that can be used to increase voter turnout in Nigerian elections. Voters, that is, the Nigerian population comprising of those aged 18 and above, are made aware of the importance of voting and why they must participate in elections through voter education. As a result, greater voter education activities in Nigeria would help boost voter turnout in the upcoming INEC general election in 2023.
VOTER EDUCATION RAISES AWARENESS OF VOTERS’ ELIGIBILITY
In Nigeria today, one of the most essential functions of voter education is to raise understanding of the factors that determine whether a citizen is qualified to vote or not. Voters are informed about what they must do in order to vote, as well as what may prevent them from voting on election day, and they are encouraged to go to the exact polling locations where their names appear on the voter register during voter education activities. Voters are also encouraged to bring their permanent voter’s card (PVC) to voter education sessions because temporary voter’s cards (TVC) are not accepted.
VOTER EDUCATION EMPHASIZES THE RIGHTS OF VOTERS
The right to vote is one of every Nigerian’s rights, as stated in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many times, the electorate is unaware of their rights in relation to the political process. To this reason, voter education exercises are critical in raising voter awareness of their rights among the people who are uninformed of them.
The voter education programme will enlighten voters about their rights in relation to the electoral process, including the right to register, vote, recall an elected representative, access to election information, privacy when voting, and the ability to attend political rallies and campaigns. When voters know their rights, they will not be easily swayed and will demand the integrity of the electoral process.
VOTER REGISTRATION ENLIGHTENS THE VOTERS OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES
Because there are no rights without obligations, the electorate must be aware of what is expected of them before, during, and after the electoral process through voter education. When the electorate understand and follow these responsibilities, it can make a huge difference in the election’s outcome. As a result, voter education ensures that voters are aware of what is expected of them throughout the political process.
The voter education campaign will provide citizens with information on how to register to vote, as well as how to change polling units from one part of the country to another. Furthermore, voter education raises awareness of how to vote appropriately. When voters are not given instructions on how to properly cast their ballots, they frequently do it incorrectly, rendering the vote illegal. As a result, voter education aims to lessen the risk of such avoidable errors.
VOTER EDUCATION ENLIGHTENS THE ELECTORATE ABOUT ELECTORAL OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Regulation and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, have been put in place to ensure that the election is peaceful, fair, and free. Electoral offenses and penalties for defaulters are defined in sections 117 to 132 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Voter education therefore, enlightens voters on how to behave so that electoral violations do not occur. The electorate will learn what constitutes electoral violations and their consequences as a result of voter education awareness activities.
Impersonating a registration officer, snatching or destroying a ballot box, multiple registrations, acting or inciting others to act in an unruly manner, forging or destroying a ballot paper or result form, threats against political aspirants, preventing the exercise of the right to vote through abduction or duress, providing false information during registration, and forging a registration card, etc, are among the offences listed in the Act. Through voter education, the penalties for each of these violations are also made known to the voting community.
VOTER REGISTRATION GIVES INSIGHT ON HOW TO TRANSFER POLLING UNIT OF REGISTERED VOTERS
There may be circumstances that force a voter to leave the constituency where he or she registered for the previous general election. However, the majority of voters are unaware of how to request a change of constituency for their previously registered address. In their state of ignorance, the voter may choose to register in their new address. However, as indicated by Section 117 of the Electoral Act 2010, this practice of intentionally numerous voter registration is a violation of the law (as amended). A defaulting voter could face a fine of ₦100,000 or a year in prison, or both.
Voters can acquire relevant instructions on how to transfer from one registration center to another through voter education. The voter would be taught how to apply for the transfer and what documentation to include with it. INEC runs a number of voter education activities across the country. INEC Youth Ambassadors are in charge of voter education across Nigeria.