An official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Magdalene Aku, has said the participation of youth in elections remains a central part of INEC’s commitment to inclusivity.
Ms Aku, a chief administrative officer at the commission, noted that the youth are traditionally marginalised in the electoral process so much that they are losing confidence in the process.
She, however, said the commission is pleased with the turnout of young people during registration and the ongoing collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) across the country, hoping it would be sustained on election day.
She spoke at the launch of a Voter Education campaign by a group, The Teens and Nubile Club (TEENUB) in collaboration with INEC, tagged “JT_I go vote.”
“It’s good to see that the youth are beginning to embrace social consciousness, beginning to stand up to their responsibilities,” she said.
“The youths are now making themselves heard, they are beginning to see the need to participate in the (electoral process), and the commission is in love with that –seeing that energy.”
Speaking on the rising concerns over the possible disenfranchisement of students who could be on campus during the elections, Ms Aku said shutting down the universities and other tertiary institutions is beyond the mandate of the commission.
She likened the question to that of diaspora voting, which she said the commission does not have the capability to do now, but is “taking baby steps” to achieve.
Also speaking, the Chairperson for TEENUB, Oluwole Daini, said the campaign was launched to promote civic participation among young people, from the collection of PVCs to voting.
The group is also campaigning against electoral violence and malpractices and trying to build people’s confidence in INEC’s preparedness, he said.
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“It’s not just about voting,” Mr Daini said. “Those youths, those that have advanced should even contest for elections at the Ward level or another appropriate level as the constitution permits.
“We’ve had a head of state in this country who became one even before he was 30. But today in Nigeria you will see during the election, a situation where the youths will be playing football, listening to music, they will be playing snooker.”
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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