Retna Elections: Empowering Citizen-Led Election Monitoring to Combat Violence and Voter Apathy in Nigeria

Violence and corruption during elections have a significant impact beyond the loss of lives and property destruction. Voter apathy – a refusal to participate in the democratic process caused by long-standing disenfranchisement and lack of faith in the system, is a generational issue in Nigeria. This was evident in the recent gubernatorial and presidential elections, where the fear of politically motivated violence and insecurity deterred many from participating.

Stolen ballot papers, spilled on the floor in order to negate votes.
From: Falomo, Lagos, Nigeria

Retna’s Election Portal was created to give citizens a platform to document and share accurate and unbiased accounts of election events that might have otherwise gone unnoticed or been misrepresented. By doing so, the platform has helped to raise awareness about the impact of violence during elections and the need for the people’s voices to be heard. 

Political thuggery, including the brazen theft of ballot boxes, has become increasingly prevalent and has eroded confidence in election results while contributing to voter apathy. These acts of violence and intimidation, witnessed in locations like Sokoto, Enugu, and Lagos, have effectively dissuaded voters from participating in the electoral process or influencing their vote in favor of a particular candidate or political party.

Police patrolling a Lagos polling unit.
From: Junction Of Olorunlogbon St Ayanboye St Lagos, Nigeria

Violence during elections can result in inter-ethnic and inter-communal mistrust, leading to the marginalization of certain groups from political participation and fostering a winner-takes-all mentality among political parties.

However, platforms like Retna Elections are empowering Nigerians to document and share their election experiences, challenging marginalization and shifting the focus back to the people. Shedding a relentless light on the unscrupulous and malicious actors behind such acts through active citizen-led election monitoring can help to remove their masks and eliminate the incentives that lead to their use of violence. The aim is to inspire more people to recognize the importance of their political participation and create a more accountable and transparent political system.

Army Interference, attempting to quell violence and voter malpractice.
From: Ajiran Primary School, Lagos, Nigeria.

The ultimate goal is to achieve peaceful elections free from violence and corruption, which is achievable, lofty as it may seem. Getting to that point however requires addressing systemic issues at multiple levels, and Retna’s work has shown that a better documented and more accessible election process is possible, enabling genuine stories of Nigerians during elections to be heard.

Peaceful elections being carried out in Oyo State.
From: African Baptist School I, Saki West, Oyo State, Nigeria

As citizens, we hold the power to use our voices to contribute to achieving this objective. We hope that these voices will demand accountability and change from other levels of the system that may be lagging behind.

Retna’s Election Portal has proven to be a valuable tool in this fight for peaceful elections, and we are grateful to everyone who used the platform. Through collaboration and active participation, we can create a more inclusive and representative government, leaving little room for violence and corruption in our elections.


Post navigation

Tell Your Election Story Wherever You Are In Nigeria

Retna – telling African stories with African images

Empowering Nigeria’s Democracy: A Spotlight on Sokoto