The Policy Innovation Centre (PIC), on Tuesday, held a MacArthur Foundation-sponsored design workshop for public sector and development stakeholders, which seeks to boost voter participation ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 elections.
Held in Abuja, the workshop, tagged ‘Applying Behavioural Insights to Electoral Participation’, was a co-creation effort between the PIC and participants to understand Nigeria’s electoral hurdles, leveraging lessons from behavioural science, to ultimately design an intervention that will boost citizen participation in the process.
PIC Director, Faisal Naru, noted that the workshop was the first in a series of efforts to engage key players in identifying the challenges associated with electoral participation in Nigeria.
He said: “We are trying to help drive a paradigm shift in the way people think about problems and how they solve them…. The key thing for citizens and public sector stakeholders is to improve accountability and transparency that will build trust and increase voter turnout and participation in the elections. That seems to be one of the presiding things the public is searching for, and public sector institutions can help do.”
Participants at the workshop were provided some background on electoral participation in Nigeria by several resource persons, including Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa. They held breakout and plenary sessions, where they identified ongoing electoral challenges and proffered solutions that would ramp up electoral engagement from government and citizen perspectives.
“The challenges with voter apathy and electoral participation are immense in Nigeria. We have seen that decline happen over decades, but believe we can change the narrative one step at a time by reflecting on simple, actionable strategies that we can implement to improve citizens’ engagement with the electoral process,” said PIC Deputy Director, Dr. Osasuyi Dirisu.
She added: “Based on what we’ve seen today, there is potential for behavioural insights to improve electoral participation. The only caveat is that we also need to reflect on the other side of the coin. We need to engage government and political structures to also improve their commitment to deliver on electoral promises made to citizens.”
Launched at the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES 27) in 2021, the PIC is the first national-level unit of its kind in Africa applying lessons from behavioural and social sciences to inform better policies and decision making. It has held two prior design workshops focused on building transparency and development for public and private sector players in Nigeria.