Seeing through Political Parties’ Election Boycotting in Nigeria
By Bashir Kabir
The announcement by the All Progressives Congress (APC) caretaker committee (CTC) chairman in Rivers State, Mr. Isaac Ogbobula that the party will not participate in the forthcoming local government council elections in the state was the exact replica of what happened in Kano State during the last local councils elections.
The Kano state local government council election that held early January 2021 was shunned by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, an action that caused noticeable voter apathy on the election day.
These indicators of party strength and weaknesses in different states cannot be ignored as the race to 2023 becomes more intense. It might be assumed that it is too early for political scheming towards the deciding year. But apparently the parties are estimating strongholds, and taking unconventional strategies to enforce same through action (or in action) in the electoral processes as the year gently rolls in.
Withdrawal from participating in polls may mean that the withdrawing party has no confidence in the electoral arrangements. The decision of not wasting time to take part is accepting defeat before battle which could also be a sign of a perceived inevitable electoral annihilation. But at the same time, if a noticeable voter apathy is experienced as a result of the withdrawal, it can then be translated as the prevailing strength of the non-participating party in that particular electorate at that particular time.
The next now is the continuation of alignment and re-alignment of party members as is usual. The scenario will be the case as high speed political calculations are engaged in preparation for the next 24 months.
The confidence the members have in their respective parties winning elections in 2023 will be the driving force behind making alignment decision. This is in addition to the undercurrent conflicts in both parties resurfacing and paving way for the unavoidable changing of camps.
It should be recalled that the APC was a merger of several political parties coming into being with the sole purpose of bringing down the then incumbent PDP, a move that worked well when power was transitioned to the APC. But, soon enough the diverse political interest of the various political parties making the merger started manifesting on different levels. Major cross-carpeting due to irreconcilable differences took place while others chose to bottle grievances.
Among other things, the council poll boycott by the elephants in the room will bring out the parties’ strength or weakness (in the states where it happened) and will be a gauging tool to calculate what would likely happen in 2023 with regards to a party’s performance in a particular electorate.
However, as the two parties continue to throw sand into each other’s grains, the issues of national security, economy, COVID pandemic and corruption are the major concerns in Nigeria for now.
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