Democracy Without The People: Interrogating Low Voter Turnout in Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections

Ngara, Christopher O. ; Udefuna, Patrick N. (2021)


This paper examined low voter turnout in the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. The paper utilized both secondary as well as primary data sourced through a purposively administered questionnaire on a total of 260 respondents in Abia and Lagos States, respectively, which had the lowest turnout in the 2019 general elections. Responses showed that Nigeria recorded low voter turnout during the 2019 general elections with a score of 56%. The study found that among the factors responsible for the high voter turnout during the elections was the belief that votes do not count which scored highest at 35.7%; non-independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came second with a score of 23.1%; while inadequate security arrangements at polling centres rated third with 22.3%. Similarly, failure by politicians to keep or fulfil campaign promises came fourth place with 16.4%; while long queues at the polling centres rated fifth with 1.3%. The paper considers the abysmally low turnout in the 2019 general elections as a travesty of democracy with grave implications for the legitimacy of the election outcomes and the quality of democracy. It recommends a total overhaul of the Nigerian electoral process through a comprehensive review of the 2022 Electoral Act.