Key questions this article answers:
What are the likely reasons for the 2023 presidential election’s low voter turnout?
How do our faulty population numbers influence voter turnout?
25 million Nigerians. 27% of the electorate.
Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Election was determined by voter turnout. Many polls had placed the Labour Party candidate (Peter Obi) as the frontrunner in the run-up to the highly anticipated elections. But even then, Stears understood turnout would be key. So, after building the first-of-its-kind election prediction model, we analysed multiple turnout scenarios to give more accurate predictions.
Most memorably, we predicted a Bola Ahmed Tinubu win in a low-turnout scenario (although most media channels preferred to focus on our high-turnout prediction). The estimated turnout in our low turnout scenario: 29%.
Fast forward to Wednesday, 1st March, and the real clincher in Nigeria’s election story was the clear emergence of voter turnout as the antagonist on the political stage, challenging the legitimacy of the election.
Stears has previously commented on the low and declining trend in voter turnout that Nigeria has seen over the years. This was true in 2015 when turnout dropped to 43.7% (53.7% in the previous election). It was also true in 2019, when only 35% of eligible voters voted for the president. In 2023, turnout in the Presidential election had dropped to 27%.
When you look at the gubernatorial elections, the situation is even bleaker. In the Anambra gubernatorial election in 2021, a measly 10% turnout was recorded.