BusinessDay

‘Sorosoke generation’ interest in voting surges

Young Nigerians defied the heavy downpour, sang and danced for seven hours on Saturday as artistes, celebrities and influencers performed at the Youth Vote Count Mega Concert 2.0 at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos.

The crowd waited patiently from 9am to register for their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as only those with valid and temporary cards were allowed to attend the concert. The concert, organised to mark the end of a five-day registration exercise, is part of the plan of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), together with Yiaga Africa and the European Union, to get as many young Nigerians as possible to take part in elections.

Daniel Agbaje, a 25-year old entrepreneur, said: “I feel like I need to get my PVC this time around to vote for my candidate, someone I feel is the right person to rule this country. So if I vote for the person and the person messes up, I will know that I voted for the person and then I am responsible for that. But I don’t want to be in a position where I will be complaining when I don’t stand up.”

Though registration for PVCs didn’t hold on Saturday, they stayed to show support for their favourite musicians.

Turnout at elections is low, especially among 18-34-year-old Nigerians. There, however, has been an increase in registrations since INEC made it easy to register online and a continuous process since January 4, 2022. Yet, the number of collected cards is dismal.

Hence the campaign for registration and collection.

As of June 6, 10.5 million new registrations had taken place online, of which 46 percent are youths. But only 7 million had completed the physical registration process, according to INEC.

Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, stated last year that the commission expected to register 20 million Nigerians by July of this year. The intended audience was primarily young people who had turned 18 since the 2019 elections.

However, with 17 days to INEC’s deadline, more than 70 percent of those INEC expected to register have not done so.

‘Sorosoke’ generation

“I’m here because of the ASUU strike,” said Ololade Ukeje, a 400 level student of international relations at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike since February this year.

Ukeje, who has been home for four months, volunteered for the concert thanks to a friend. “If you look at the banner for the concert, you will see ‘sorosoke generation’ and I am one of the Sorosoke generation. That is why we have a lot of youths like myself here today.”

When Folarin Falana, aka Falz, took the stage, he urged the youth to get their PVCs. “Our people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020. We have not forgotten, and we will never forget. They are killing us every day. You can see what happened in Ondo, Kaduna, and Sokoto States. Please, it is important to get your PVC. Abeg, make we no forget o; our PVC is our power.”

Samuela Isopi, Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States, while addressing the audience, appreciated the youths for showing up in their thousands for the five-day registration exercise and the concert as well.

Isopi said, “This is a huge success and a sign of hope for a better future for Nigeria. It is also a sign of trust and confidence in the electoral process that has made tremendous progress, thanks to the new electoral Act, the new reforms and technologies that INEC introduced to make elections more transparent, and to protect your votes.”

Yakubu, the INEC chairman, said at the event: “Last week, we registered over 5,000 people. We have to change our strategy after seeing the crowd that gathered here to register. Instead of everyone coming here (TBS) to register, we decided to register prospective voters in 20 centers spread across 20 local government areas in Lagos. In addition, more machines will be deployed throughout Lagos beginning next week.”

Read also: INEC releases new election regulations & guidelines

He assured the youth that their votes would be counted if they registered and voted.

“This is a good time to be a youth. Thank you for coming out because the country is in our hands. Thank you for not giving up on Nigeria,” said Anita Alaire Afoke Asuoha, an actress whose stage name is ‘Real Warri Pikin’.

Kizz Daniel, M.I, Teni, Omawumi, Mayorkun, and 2Baba, Pasuma, Bella Shmurda, Tuface Idibia, Mayorkun, Waje, Ashake, Small Doctor, and Patoranking were among the artistes who thrilled the youth at the star-studded event.

KieKie, Mr Macaroni, Omoni Oboli, Uti Nwachukwu, and Lasisi Elenu were also among the celebrities and influencers who performed at the concert.

Toyin Ayimaku, a Nollywood actress, said: “One of the most powerful contributions we can make, regardless of our differences, status, gender, age, and political inclination, is voting to decide our country’s direction. We can build the Nigeria we desire, one vote at a time. It all begins with choosing to be part of those who drive this country in the right direction through the PVC. Every contribution matters!”

Okon Lucky, a civil servant, said: “Employers that don’t give their employees a chance to go and get their PVC are among the bad apples.”

 

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