The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Chatham House last Tuesday said that the outcome of the 2023 election would be determined by the youth.
“…actually, the 2023 election is the election of the young people because they have the numbers. Even the majority of the PVCs (permanent voter cards) collected are collected by young people. So, out of the 93.4million, 70.4million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 49,” Yakubu said.
The surge in youth participation in the last registration exercise and the sudden consciousness in the electoral process across the country may have given the indication that the 2023 general would be like no other since the return of the country to civil rule in 1999.
Solape Adesuyi, a legal practitioner who spoke on a Channels Television programme recently explained that the young people may be voting in a particular pattern this time around for certain reasons.
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“If you look at the level of despondency and the desire for a better government that is high; the pressure is high; it is easy to for people to think that going by what we are seeing and the particular demography that had registered and collected their PVCs that they will be voting in a particular pattern. From what is seen on social media and the level of frustration being experienced in the polity, it could be said that the youth actually want a change. That could probably be their driving force or motivation to their desire to vote this time around,” Adesuyi said.
She also did not see the possibility of youths selling their PVCs.
“I think the Nigerian youths have got to the point where they do not want to sell their PVCs, but have determined to see a government that will work for all. It is not every youth that wants to flee the country; many are hopeful of a better country and that hope will go a long way in determining the pattern of voting,” she said.
To ensure that people are given the opportunity to vote, Adesuyi, suggested that the Federal Government should close down all schools across the country for the period of the election.
She said this would enable the young people go to where they registered to cast their votes.
Speaking with BusinessDay, Innocent Ajayi, Vice President, South-South, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), said with the unprecedented rise of youths’ interest in the forthcoming poll, especially the presidential election, Nigeria’s young population will vote in their numbers.
Ajayi, however, pointed out that despite the growing interests of the youth in the 2023 elections, the issue of vote buying is still a major concern.
“When you look at the statistics of youth population in the last INEC registration, you would understand this is new. The reason why they want to participate fully in the electoral processes is because they want a better society for themselves. They want to see a better Nigeria.
“For me, I have absolute confidence that the voting will go in a particular form. However, it should be noted that the human minds differ. It is fine if the youths say they want to vote for their respective candidates but let the people decide the fate of this country.
“It should be noted that the greatest enemy of man is hunger and we are advocating that the money being given at the polling units means selling your future just for four years. So, it is necessary to understand that, at this point, the country needs youths who are willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the future and we believe that when that sacrifice is done, everybody will benefit from it.
“In my opinion, I think the youths are in charge. We must put Nigeria first. The issue of collecting peanuts to sell your voting rights will not take us anywhere,” Ajayi said.
Owobu Usigbe, a member of the Edo State Civil Society Organisation (EDOCSO), opined that the recently released voters’ register of the INEC has further demonstrated that the youths are committed to ensuring their votes count this time around.
According to him, “The youths have tested it through the #EndSARS campaign and discovered that power belongs to us. Power rests on the youths and this is evident in the voters’ register. This means the youth still hold that yam and the knife.
“From the voters’ registration, it shows they want to take back their country. From the campaign so far, it means that the youths have made up their mind except those who want to maintain the status quo. You can observe the youths have also come outside to display their sagacity to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
“There is no doubt that the youths are really ready to take over their country back compared to before when it was docile. So, I think from the look of things, it is crystal clear that we all now know that Nigeria is in a sinking ship, so it is either you sink in the boat or you rescue yourself; that is the campaign this time around,” Usigbe said.
In his opinion, Edwin Asibor, executive director, Securing the Creative Goldmine in Youths Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, expressed hope that the outcome of the election will be determined by the electorate, who will vote candidates of their choice based on antecedents and not political party.
“The youths have the capacity to determine the outcome of the election. As it stands, there is this high level of consciousness among the electorate. If you observe during the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), never in the history of Nigeria, has Nigerians witnessed the high turnout by the youths during the registration.
“Also, there is high level of PVC collection. There is high level of enthusiasm displayed by them; there is this readiness to change the narrative. It is not going to be business as usual. Based on this, I think the youths have the capacity to deliver on next election,” he said.