Factors behind the upsurge in youth voter registration

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As the growing crowd of Nigerians scramble to meet the June 30 deadline for Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), BusinessDay has learned that many factors are responsible for the development.

It was also found that nearly 11 million new registrants have been registered in the past few months since INEC announced the deadline.

Some private sector players at a meeting on Monday agreed that some of the reasons for the new wave of interest in registering Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) could include a referendum on the administration current events, the entry of Peter Obi into the race, the decision of Nigerians to break with the two main political parties and the quest of young Nigerians to become more involved in the political process of the country.

“They don’t sign up for the status quo; they are against the status quo. This is definitely a verdict detrimental to the ruling party. There is no indication that the increase in new registration will or is in favor of the ruling party. It is a kind of referendum against the government in place. Something must be happening,” they said.

According to them, some party members are unhappy with the turn of events in the ruling All Progressives Congress and may have decided to obtain or update their PVCs to seek an alternative.

Private sector actors, who rejected the army of social media activists, said the majority would not even vote on election day.

However, they acknowledged that there seemed to be a certain level of political consciousness never seen before in the nation’s history.

A political analyst believes this is happening because of the ‘Peter Obi momentum’ and the mantra of ‘taking the country back’ for the people.

“With many young people disillusioned and the prospect of fleeing their country seen as their only path to a secure future, many have embraced Obi’s presidential candidacy as their last hope to save their country from its inexorable march towards a failed state.” , said the analyst. who spoke with BusinessDay on condition of anonymity, said.

“This bleak prospect, feared over the next eight years at the hands of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, galvanizes young people better than any financial incentive. Many say those who emerge victorious in the presidential primaries of major political parties have given them little cause for celebration. He is now helping to spur the biggest political movement since the June 12, 1993 elections,” he said.

According to him, the #EndSARS demonstration may have been crushed by the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, but the lessons of this movement are carried over into the new movement to elect, for the first time in a long time, a candidate who left office without the taint of corruption and gross opulence that characterize Nigeria’s rapacious political class.

Obi seems to believe that the awakening to the CVR was triggered by him.

While answering the question of the lack of structure to win a national election, he said, “Whenever I hear of no structure, my answer is simple, the 100 million Nigerians who live in poverty will be the structure, the millions of young Nigerians who do not know where the next meal will come from will be the structure, our mothers and fathers, the elders who are dying and who owe their gratuities and pensions will be the structure, the teachers who are due, the students who are not in school will be the structure.The structure is about human beings.

Some prominent figures across the country and groups including the youth are urging and mobilizing Nigerians to register for their PVCs.

Some groups go so far as to provide free transportation as part of mobilization efforts.

Others donate their buildings, including residences, religious houses and business premises to INEC for use as registration centres.

Last Saturday, many young Nigerians defied the rain by heading out to the Youth Vote Count Mega Concert 2.0 at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos.

Speaking at the event, INEC President Mahmood Yakubu said, “Over the past week, we have registered over 5,000 people. When I saw the crowds thronging here to register, we had to change our strategy. We decided that instead of everyone coming here (TBS) to register, we would register potential voters at 20 centers spread across 20 local government areas in Lagos. Additionally, more machines will be deployed across Lagos from next week. »

Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president, had told young Nigerians on Sunday that their tomorrow would never come if they continued to leave the affairs of the country in the hands of those who are ruining it.

Also read: Voters take on challenges to beat PVC deadline

Obasanjo, who spoke at the “OBJ @85 Free Keke Programme” held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, challenged the younger generation to take their rightful place in the affairs of the countries as leaders of tomorrow.

“If young people leave things to those who spoil everything and say they (young people) are the leaders of tomorrow, they will never have that tomorrow,” he said.

Enough Is Enough, a non-governmental organization that campaigns for good governance, has urged Nigerians to “shine their eyes” this time around.

He said: “In Nigeria, the elections are here; midnight plans and alliances are about seizing power, deepening individual pockets, in some cases with foreign coins. The result, who knows?

“Will Nigeria and Nigerians be the Caesars?
With just one important tool, Nigerians have their PVCs. How do you, as a Nigerian, intend to use your PVC? »

Last Thursday, the electoral body released a statement saying it would provide 270 more registration machines as reports of high turnouts in the southeast, Lagos, Rivers and other northern states overwhelmed their staff.

Now there are calls to extend the registration deadline as the electoral body clearly lacks the capacity to register voluntary voters on time. Meanwhile, INEC believes the surge has something to do with confidence in its ability.

“This sudden increase is an affirmation of the growing confidence of Nigerians in our electoral process,” said Festus Okoye, Chairman of the INEC Voter Information and Education Committee.

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