Why we want more youths involved in 2023 elections – EU

The European Union (EU) on Tuesday urged a greater participation of youths in the 2023 general elections, explaining that the number of young people in the country has grown significantly since the last election hence the need to be sustainably involved in the decision making process.

Available data from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows that in the 2019 election, youths accounted for 28 percent votes in the presidential election and 29 percent votes in the governorship elections despite the large population of youths in the country.

Laolu Olawumi, programme manager, democracy and rule of law at the EU speaking in Abuja decried that the large number of young eligible Nigerians does not translate to engagement in the political processes.

She said that prior to the 2019 elections, the EU organised programmes in university campuses to get youths interested in the political process which was successful, but said the growing number of youths in the country among other factors forced the EU to change its scope so as to reach people who are not in campuses; which gave birth to the ‘youth vote count mega concert 2.0’.

“Moving towards the 2023 elections, we see an even greater need, you have a population of young people that are significantly growing since then and so we decided we needed to change our strategy a little bit and expand the scope. Youth Vote Count’ initiative is a non-partisan campaign, funded by the EU and was launched in 2018 with the sole objective of getting young people to participate more in the electoral process,” she said.

She noted that the involvement of celebrities in the concert is to inspire the youth given their love for pop culture and connect with celebrities.

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“The entire objective of the campaign is just to connect young people to get them to be a little bit more proactive in the governance process and to begin to shift perception for the young party. What are the critical elements that you can bring into this campaign? Young people think about pop culture, they want to connect with celebrities, so we are trying to bring celebrities, pop artists, bloggers together to sensitise people on the need to get their permanent voter cards (PVCs).

The programme manager further informed that the next phase would be to ensure that youths collect their PVCs and participate in the elections.

Also speaking, the resident electoral commissioner (REC) of INEC Yahaya Bello noted that the commission is witnessing the highest turnout of citizens in the continuous voter registration.

“We have been doing this continuous voter registration for more than a year but have never seen people patronise it in such a manner,” he said.

Samson Itodo, executive director of Yiaga Africa, equally noted that the involvement of celebrities is to help mobilise the youths to participate in the 2023 election. He said, “In Lagos, for the few days that the registration was held, over 11,000 people were added to the voters register from Lagos and we also hope that in Abuja there will be more than that. So we are very excited to see young people show up to register.

“On Saturday there will be a concert and headlining this concert are celebrities who are committed to the democratic project and we have Tubaba, MI, Teni the entertainer, Phyno and numerous others to entertain and mobilise young people to participate in this exercise.”

The concert is being organised by the EU in partnership with INEC and other partners. The Abuja edition will feature prominent artists such as 2Baba, Phyno, Falz, Teni, Macaroni, among others at the Old Parade Ground on Saturday.

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