2023: EU, INEC, CSOs move to boost youth participation in elections




The European Union (EU), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society Organisations have partnered to boost the of participation the youth in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Speaking at the programme on Tuesday in Abuja, EU Programme Manager, Olawumi Laolu, said the essence of the partnership programme fully funded by EU was to get more Nigerian youth to involve in the electoral process by registering in the CVR exercise and eventually voting at the elections.

The “open air PVC registration” taking place at the Old Parade Ground in Abuja, will commence on June 20 to June 25 and end with the music concert by celebrities tagged “Youth Vote Count 2.0 Mega Concert’.’’

“Over the last couple of years, we have tried to answer a very important question. And that’s how do we get young people to be more involved in the political process?

“How do we get them to be engaged? Not just by getting their voter cards but to have a sustained engagement from young people in Nigeria? And the answer to that is very obvious.

“If you look at the detail data from INEC you see that we have high levels of young people in terms of our population, but that does not necessarily translate to the engagement in the political process.

“And, we have said, how do we address this very huge challenge? That question was what we tried to answer when we came up with a campaign called the youth vote count campaign back in 2018.

“The entire objective of the campaign is just to connect young people with centres of power to get them to be a little bit more proactive in the governance process and to begin to shift culture and perception of young people,” he said.

She recalled that the EU partnership stated with INEC in 2018 where music concert was organised at universities across the country and almost 25,000 young people were registered across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

Laolu said that moving towards the 2023 general elections, there was the need to encourage more Nigerian youths to register via the Youth vote Counts 2.0 mega concert.

FCT Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Yahaya Bello, while commending EU for the partnership, said that the commission had deployed over 50 voter registration machines and 150 staff members to meet the needs of registrants at the ongoing “open air PVC registration”.

Bello said the deployment of the high number of machines and staff members was to ensure that man intended registrants were captured during the one week exercise.

He, however, said that the CVR at INEC offices in the six Abuja area council would still continue till June 30 when the programme would end.

In his remarks, INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Ayodele Aluko, regretted that youths made up of 51 percent out of over 84 million registered voters in the 2019 general election but less than than number eventual voted.

Aluko who spoke at the venue of continuous voter registration (CVR) campaign, Vote Count 2 Programme organised by INEC in conjunction with the European Union (EU) in Abuja, observed that Nigerian youths are only active on social media when it comes to election activities.

The director described the turnout of prospective voters at the six-day voter concert programme as encouraging, noting that the commission had expected that there would be lull on the first two days of the exercise.

“In 2019, 51 percent out of over 84 million registered voters are youths. So they should not just engage on social media postulations, get involved, get your PVC and vote in the elections,” he said.

Also speaking at the event the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, urged youth to register and use their large number to realise the Nigeria of their dream.

“As of 2019 we had 84 million registered voters, 51 per cent of that are youth. Now we started again, and from the figures we have the youth between 18 and 39 years had the highest percentage.

“So, they have that opportunity to change things the way they want. Don’t just be on social media, postulating on Twitter, or sending messages on Facebook. You need to get your PVC and vote for the candidate of your choice. If you do that, the Nigeria of our dreams that we all want will come to fruition,” Rotimi said.

The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Mr Samson Itodo, said that the partners were committed to providing more youth with platform to register and vote in future elections.

He said that Nigeria could not continue to have high number of youth who would not be participating in election.

“For us, the partners on the vote count, we’re very concerned with the level of youth turnout for electoral activities.

“From data from INEC, the youth turnout for the 2019 elections was less than 30 per cent. In the presidential election, it was 28 per cent. In the governorship election, it was 29 per cent.

“Now, the youth population on the voters register was about 51.1 per cent in 2019.

“But as you can see, from the images from the videos across the country, there is interest on the part of young people to register and to vote in the next election.”

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