Political Apathy In Nigeria: A Fiasco War

POLITICAL APATHY IN NIGERIA: A FIASCO WAR: This is an article concerning political participation in Nigeria...

Democracy has been credited with being one of the best government systems. However, I suppose that democracy is the best of the worst government systems. The possibility of having a better political system than democracy is probable. Until then, democracy still remains the best of the worst. Its participatory nature has characterized democracy and given it the edge and place of prominence over other political systems such as oligarchy, monarchy, dictocracy, aristocracy, and all the others. Democracy gives the people the opportunity to participate in the political life of their country. This participation gives them the avenue to write their history by themselves. The people are involved either directly or indirectly in their own affairs; hence the dictum "power lies with the people." Indeed power lies with the people when democracy is at its best. Is this true of Nigeria? Considering the nature of the practice of democracy in Nigeria, we are left without a choice but to ask if democracy is really participatory or otherwise. With the high level of political apathy in Nigeria, can political leaders be said to be duly elected into power by the people? In other words, does the government have legitimacy? What is the implication of political apathy in a country such as ours? In this article, I will explore the problem of political apathy in Nigeria, its causes and effects, and the possible ways of mitigating this fundamental problem in Nigerian democracy, for it remains a derisory way of seeking a better government. 

One may ask, what is political apathy? The question of political apathy in Nigeria is not a question that needs definition but description. Political apathy in Nigeria is a pragmatic reality; in other words, it is a phenomenological reality. It has become an 'existential' part of Nigerian politics. But for the sake of lucidity, political apathy, as defined by Idike Adeline Nnenna, is "the deficiency of love and devotion to a state. It is the indifference on the part of citizens of any state as regards their attitudes towards political activities such as elections, public opinions, and civic responsibilities. Political apathy is, therefore, absence of interest in, or concern about, socio-political life." By implication, politically apathetic people will not be interested in anything that has to do with politics. Political apathy is a very serious problem to democracy but more dangerous to the people, even those who are apathetic.

The research titled "Voters Apathy and Revival of Genuine Political Participation in Nigeria' carried out in 2013 by Sylvia Uchenna Agu and co; showed an alarming result on voters' apathy. In 1999 at the return of democracy to Nigeria, 57% registered, but only 30% voted; in 2003, 60% of voters were registered, and only 42% voted. It became worse in 2007 when 65% of voters were registered, but only 35% voted. International Center for Investigative Reporting showed that the 2019 election turnout was the worst since 1999. The voter turnout was barely 34.5%. What then could be the cause(s) of political apathy in the democratic State?

Fundamentally, various factors instigate political apathy in Nigeria. Governance and the formation of society is a social contracts. This social contract is entered into either directly or indirectly by the people and their government. In such a situation, everyone has a role and a responsibility to the other. The government has its responsibilities to the people, and the people, too, have their own obligations to the government. Political apathy is most often caused by the breach of this agreement on the part of the government. The basic reasons for political apathy in Nigeria include; bad governance, Failure and incompetency on the part of INEC, corrupt electoral practices and processes, political violence, the government in the ability to carry out its responsibilities to the people, the belief that votes do not count, lack of trust in government. There are many other reasons for political apathy.

Consequently, political apathy is not without its effects. The vastidity of political apathy in Nigeria makes it a subject of pertinence. The deleteriousness has not, and the people of Nigeria do not yet realize it. It is a common practice, and people seem to be comfortable with it without an understanding of the implication of their actions. Political apathy is a self-inflicting action with dire consequences and catastrophic consequences. Hence, looking at this unusual yet common phenomenon in Nigeria is imperative. Generally speaking, political apathy is a reaction by the people, a reaction to the anomalies of political practice and governance in Nigeria, which is gladiators in nature and the terrain occupied by politicians that are skilled in vulpinism. Instead of bringing something positive, tragically, it rather promotes or permits the ills of the political gladiators to continue. For example, political apathy in Nigeria does not stop the problem of bad governance; it rather allows it to continue to thrive, which is quite obvious. Political apathy is a 'suicidal' act. The citizens who refuse to participate in political matters suffer the consequences. Hence what should be done?

Conclusively, Political apathy, in truth, does not solve the problems experienced in a country. It does not eradicate the problem. As such, the people must rationally act radically. By radical here, I mean conscious, deliberate, and none violent political participation. It is not just an obligation; it is a right to participate in the political affairs of one's country. Thus, if Nigeria must change, Nigerian electorates must top up their participation in political matters. There is no point in giving in to despondency. The fear that 'our vote will not count should not stop people from participating in elections. It should be why people should try to make it count. Defending one's vote is indeed good for all. Refusal to be used as tools for evil is indeed a prudential resolution. To create a new narrative in Nigeria, Nigerians must take up the willpower, move to the polls with courage and choose candidates of their choice with conviction. To use political apathy to fight political ills is indeed a fiasco war, a ridiculous approach to creating a better Nigeria. Indeed it will not lead us to where we want to be; rather, it will take us to where we were. So to move Nigeria to a promising state, shun apathy and exercise your franchise.

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