The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmoud Yakubu, has urged Nigerians to protect their votes against ballot-snatching thugs during elections.
Speaking at a campus outreach organised by the electoral body in conjunction with the European Centre for Electoral Support in Lagos, Mr Yakubu said active citizen participation is the solution to security challenges during election.
“Nobody will take a gun where they know they will be challenged. But when people abandon polling units, it becomes easier for merchants of violence to disrupt the process,” Mr Yakubu said.
“We also have a system of merging with security agencies and although we discourage armed security men in the polling units, there are armed men outside the polling units to also beef up security in the polling units.”
Nollywood star, Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, urged the youth to be ready to “waste” their votes for their candidates of choice during the 2019 election.
“The point is not whether or not the candidate of your choice wins but the point is to put the numbers behind them to give them the needed confidence to try again,” the actress said.
“Come 2019, we should be ready to waste our votes even if it is just to make a point and disrupt the status.”
During a panel session moderated by Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye, popular comedian Basket Mouth said social media had replaced reality in the mind of the youth as it had become their major outlet for all grievances.
“Social media has consumed the mind of the youths,” he said.
“We now need people to validate how we feel about ourselves, we post and wait for likes. When the president called us lazy, we should not have been angry, he became president at a young age, came back as an old man to become president again, what does that tell him about the youths?”
The comedian said Nigerians do not believe in the nation anymore because they are their own presidents.
“We provide light, water, security, health care and even education so most people have no reason to believe in Nigeria anymore. But the fight is not for you but for your unborn children,” he added.
Another popular comedian, Ayo Makun (known as AY), urged Nigerians to make a conscious effort to believe in the Nigerian project.
“Get what has to be done and do it right. You don’t have a right to say a person is not good enough when you are not making a conscious effort to do anything. If we decide to provide content collectively, we would get the needed result.”
Earlier, during his welcome marks, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the host and vice chancellor of University of Lagos, told the youth to channel their energy towards good governance.
“The university believes that the task before INEC though much, is achievable with partnership from organisations interested in entrancing democracy in Nigeria.”
The Commission said the programme themed ‘Youth Votes Count’ would be held in four different universities in four other geopolitical zones.