Yusuf I. Goje

Kaduna State according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has a total of 4.3 million registered voters. Out of which 4.1 million have collected their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), that is 95.9%. 

Unfortunately, only 1.3 million casted their votes in the just concluded 2023 Presidential election, which is 32.2% of voters with PVC and about 30.9% turn-out of total registered voters in the State. This has fallen from the 45.5% turn-out in the 2019 Presidential election.

The big questions the gubernatorial candidates and their teams will be asking are: why did over 60% of the voters not turn-out? who are they? where are they? and what incentives will be needed to mobilize them to come out and vote? Although, evidence shows that voters in Kaduna have always turned-out more for the governorship election than the presidential.

In 2015, about 1.66 million came out for the gubernatorial election compared to 1.61 million for the Presidential. Likewise, in 2019, about 1.9 million turn-out to vote in the governorship election compared to the 1.7 million for the presidential. In the same period, zone two senatorial district has had the highest number of voter turnout followed by zone one and three respectively. 

If we are to go by the foregoing trend, then we might see an increase in voter turnout especially that the issues and intrigues are different from that of the Presidential election. As the election will largely be a referendum on the performance of the incumbent administration, contest of strategies hinged on ethno-religious sentiments, the influence of money and mass political mobilization. 

Hence, the candidate with the best strategy that mobilize voters to turn-out will win the day. If all the 18 political parties were only able to pull out only just above 30% of the votes in the Presidential election, it means the remaining over 60% of voters are up for grabs in the forthcoming gubernatorial election. 

Political parties, candidates and civil society organizations must engage in mass political education as there is the risk of voter apathy, especially in areas where confidence in the credibility of INEC have been lost. 

The people need to be assured that INEC will ensure strict compliance and functionality of BVAS for accreditation and upload of the results on IReV. As this will also lead to substantial reduction in rigging which usually inflates the number. 

INEC must ensure that all potential logistical challenges are proactively addressed, so that the process can commence and finish on time. Also, security agencies must also be on alert to ensure minimal incidence of voter suppression through premeditated intimidation and violence. 

The voters must ensure they not only come out massively and vote but be vigilant through out the process. We must be conscious of the fact that sovereignty belongs to us and we are to determine who we give our mandate. Lets go out and decide the fate of the candidates.

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