The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday disclosed that 71% of those who took part in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) were youths.
The electoral umpire disclosed that the exercise recorded 3,899,238 applicants as Nigerians seek to exercise their franchise in the upcoming 2023 elections.
The commission disclosed this in a weekly update released on Monday in Abuja by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information & Voter Education Committee.
Okoye noted that “Youths between the ages of 18 and 34 still constitute the majority with 771,770 (71.33%) completed registration. In terms of occupation, students form the largest category with 439,608 (40.63%). On gender distribution, 555,872 (51.38%) are male while 526,075 (48.62%) are female.”
This marks a huge shift from the laissez-faire attitude displayed by the youth demographg in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests which channelled their discontent and disillusionment at the state of affairs in the country.
Well documented evidence illustrates Nigeria’s youth bulge – young people between 16 and 24 years of age constitute over half of the total population, but events in the past 21 years of the nation’s democratic history have continued to see youths taking a backstage in from exercising their civic responsibilities.
A breakdown of the election turnout in 1999 and 2019 showed a drastic contrast in the number of registered voters and votes cast. In the 1999 election ( a year that marked Nigeria’s return to civil rule). a total number of 57,938,045 million people registered to vote. However, only a 29,848, 441 million people voted.
In the last general election in 2019, 84,004,084 million people registered to vote while only 28,614,190 million people cast their votes. This represented 34.96 per cent of the registered voters. The declining figure is unconnected to electoral fraud and violence recorded during the electioneering period which discourages citizens from turning out en masse to exercise their rights duties.
Nonetheless, the upsurge among young CVR applicants against the backdrop of various social media advocacy showcases a keen interest on the happenings of the country by this demography but the question is whether this translates into active participation during the election period by the youth.
On several occasions during the #EndSARS campaign, which protested against police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria, many people had called on the youths to take more active parts in politics, expeciallg during elections, as opposed to flooding the social media space on election day.
It is believed that the #EndSARS campaign may have jolted young people to the reality that things may not change except they participate active in politics to determine who gets elected into political offices to run the affairs of the stages and nation.
How much of the high number of youths who have registered for their voters’ cards will actually vote, and how well the objective of getting them to take more active parts in elections has been realised will be manifest in the coming elections in the country.