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Debunking 10 Prevalent Election Myths in Nigeria

Debunking 10 Prevalent Election Myths in Nigeria

In this article, we will explore some of the most prevalent election myths in Nigeria and debunk them. Elections are an integral part of any democratic society, and Nigeria is no exception. Elections in Nigeria have been plagued by various myths and misconceptions, which have often led to electoral malpractice and violence.

However, these myths are often propagated by politicians and their supporters to advance their agenda, discredit their opponents, or create fear among voters. Here are the ten election myths in Nigeria that need to be addressed.

 

Debunking 10 Prevalent Election Myths in Nigeria

 

Myth 1: The Incumbent Always Wins

One of the most prevalent myths about Nigerian elections is that the incumbent always wins. This myth is rooted in the belief that the ruling party has access to unlimited resources and can use its power to manipulate the electoral process in its favor. While it is true that the incumbent often has an advantage, it is not always the case that they win. There have been instances in Nigeria where the opposition party has won the presidency or governorship elections.

For example, in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in a historic election that saw the first peaceful transfer of power between political parties in Nigeria’s history.

 

Myth 2: Election Results are Predetermined

Another common myth in Nigeria is that election results are predetermined, and the actual vote does not matter. This myth is usually propagated by those who believe that the ruling party has already rigged the election in its favor, and the opposition has no chance of winning.

While there have been instances of electoral fraud in Nigeria, it is not accurate to say that all elections are predetermined. Nigerian elections are monitored by local and international observers, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has taken steps to improve the integrity of the electoral process. Voters also have the power to hold their elected officials accountable by participating in the electoral process and reporting any irregularities.

 

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Myth 3: You must Belong to a Political Party to Vote

Many Nigerians believe that they must belong to a political party to vote. This myth is false. In Nigeria, every eligible voter has the right to vote, regardless of their political affiliation. Voters are free to choose the candidate they believe will best represent their interests, and they do not have to be a member of any political party to exercise this right.

 

Myth 4: Election Violence is Inevitable in Nigeria

Election violence is a major concern in Nigeria, and many people believe that it is inevitable. This myth is perpetuated by those who want to create fear and discourage people from participating in the electoral process.

While election violence has occurred in the past, it is not inevitable. Nigerian authorities have taken and should continue to take steps to improve security during elections, and there have been instances where elections have been peaceful. Additionally, voters can play a role in reducing election violence by participating in the process peacefully and reporting any incidents of violence to the appropriate authorities.

 

Myth 5: Voters must Vote along Religious or Ethnic lines

Another common myth in Nigeria is that voters must vote along religious or ethnic lines. This myth is harmful because it promotes division and undermines the principle of democracy, which is based on the idea that every citizen has an equal voice.

While religion and ethnicity may influence a voter’s decision, it is not mandatory to vote along these lines. Voters should make their decisions based on the candidate’s qualifications, policies, and ability to deliver on their promises, rather than their religion or ethnicity. In 2023 election, many citizens voted against ethnic and religious lines, while so many politicians believed otherwise.

 

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Myth 6: Only the Wealthy can Win Elections

It is a common belief in Nigeria that only the rich can win elections. While it is true that having access to campaign funds can give a candidate an advantage, it is not always the case. Some candidates have won elections without having access to a lot of money.

Many Nigerians believe that this myth is perpetuated by the high cost of running for office in Nigeria. However, while money is a significant factor in Nigerian politics, it is not the only factor. The key is to have a strong grassroots campaign that mobilizes supporters.

 

Myth 7: The Electoral Body INEC is biased

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the electoral body in Nigeria responsible for organizing and conducting elections in the country. However, over the years, there have been persistent myths and allegations of bias against INEC during elections. One of the most common myths is that INEC is controlled by the ruling political party and is biased in favor of the party during elections. This myth has been fueled by the conduct of some INEC officials, who have been accused of colluding with the ruling party to manipulate election results.

Another myth is that INEC deliberately disenfranchises voters in opposition strongholds to give an advantage to the ruling party. This myth has been fueled by incidents of violence and intimidation during elections in opposition strongholds, leading to the disruption of the voting process. However, it is important to note that these myths are not entirely true. While there have been cases of INEC officials colluding with politicians to manipulate election results, the majority of INEC officials are impartial and committed to conducting free and fair elections.

Many Nigerians believe that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is biased towards a particular political party. INEC is an independent body that is not controlled by any political party. It has been involved in many credible elections, and its processes are transparent and fair. However, its operations should be monitored by the government, media agencies and civil society organizations. While there have been incidents of violence and intimidation during elections in opposition strongholds, this is usually caused by political thugs and not INEC officials. Overall, it is important for Nigerians to recognize that INEC is a vital institution for the country’s democracy, and it is crucial that they work towards ensuring that the commission remains impartial and independent during elections.

 

Related: Impacts of Ethnicity & Religion on Nigerian Politics

 

Myth 8: Elections in Nigeria are always Rigged

One of the most pervasive election myths in Nigeria is that elections are always rigged in favour of the highest bidder especially the ruling party. While there have been instances of electoral malpractices in the past, it is not accurate to say that every election in Nigeria is rigged. Many elections have been conducted fairly, and the results have been accepted by all parties involved.

It is possible to win an election without rigging in Nigeria, contrary to the believe of some that the only way to win an election in Nigeria is by rigging. This is not true. There have been instances where candidates have won elections without resorting to any form of electoral malpractice or vionlence. The key is to have a good campaign strategy and a strong message that resonates with the electorate.

 

Myth 10: Vote Buying and Intimidation Win Elections

Many Nigerians believe that the only way to win an election is by buying votes. While there have been instances of vote buying in the past elections, it is not the only way to win an election. Voters can be persuaded to vote for a candidate based on their track record, policies, and message.

Again, it is a common belief that voters can be intimidated or coerced to vote a particular way. While there have been instances of voter intimidation in the past, it is not widespread. The key is for voters to be informed and to know their rights.

 

Read: Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Nigerian Politics

 

Wrapping Up: Debunking Election Myths in Nigeria

Here are the ten election myths in Nigeria that need to be addressed. Whether educated or illustrate, anyone who is a Nigerian citizen and is 18 years or older can register to vote and participate in the electoral process. Nigeria, like many other countries, has had its fair share of election myths that have been passed down from one generation to another.

These myths have been so pervasive that many Nigerians have come to believe them as true. However, as we approach the next election season, it is essential to dispel these myths to promote a better understanding of the electoral process.

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