The Farmer and Elections: the Nigerian Context

This article takes a look at issue affecting the farmer and elections in Nigeria. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say, “The only time we create a kind of substantive change is when we reach out to a disaffected electorate and inspire and motivate them to vote”.

It is now only about two weeks to Nigeria’s most talked about event for 2019 – the fiercely contested 2019 polls – and the polity is getting heated by the day with shocking happenings and revelations from across the country.

While we try not to drown in several, not-so-palatable news headlines, let our focus for today be on the role of Nigerian farmers in  elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission earlier released the statistical distribution of registered voters for 2019 elections by zone, gender, age group and occupation.

This, I consider a commendable move by the Commission, even though there are certain underlying nuances about this release that bother me. Now before I delve into details regarding my reservations about the farmer as an electorate, I wish to point out some facts.

I am not a registered voter and as such some persons might argue that I may not qualify to write this post. Well in my defence, it should be noted that the process of registration was by no means an easy one, but I strongly look forward to the time when INEC voter registration would be done all year round and not months before a scheduled election.

The farmer and elections: Facts

In the report released by INEC, it is interesting to note that farmers ranked second on the list of highest number of voters by occupation, that is, 16.23% (13,630,216) of the total 84,004,084 population of registered voters, were farmers.

This means that the total registered farmer voter population is about twice the population of registered Civil Servants (5,038,671) and Public Servants (2,292,167) respectively, although this is justified by the fact that there are significantly more farmers than Public and Civil Servants in the country, obviously because farmers belong to the lower class which generally has a higher population across the globe.

Now what I find puzzling is why Civil and Public servants (myself inclusive) who are pivotal to the implementation of policies that determine economic growth, who argue day-in-day-out about the under-performance of different subsequent administrations have a very low population of registered voters (as role players, one would have expected a larger and significant population of registered voters from the public sector).

Burning Questions

In evaluating the situations around the farmer and elections in Nigeria, I find myself at crossroads with certain burning questions. Do farmers have more roles to play in matters that determine the affairs of the nation or are they just more interested in nation building?

Or is their huge turn-out for voter registration – putting the general farming population aside – due to the fact that they had more time on their hands to patiently stand on long queues to get registered?

The population of registered farmers for the 2019 election is quite impressive. It is my hope that a large chunk of this population participates actively on the days of election while we further hope that the percentage of registered and voting Nigerians, across all occupations, increase in subsequent elections.

Conclusion

In conclusion, speaking about the farmers and elections in Nigeria, I think it is important more farmers are urged to participate in the electoral process of the country.

As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that electoral participatory advocacy campaigns as well as voter education should be spread to the rural environs where a teeming number of Nigerian farming populace reside.

This step would significantly raise their awareness of electoral processes and help curb the menaces of overzealous politicians who take advantage of farmers’ poverty and vulnerability by indulging in vote buying.

It is my humble prayer that this year’s elections come with the difference that we all desperately desire.

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