UNDP, Yiaga Africa move to mobilise young voters
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa, yesterday, sealed a partnership for a project that seeks to mobilise not less than 60 per cent of eligible young voters towards the 2023 general elections.
The project, tagged #SixtyPercentOfUs, aims at engaging conventional and non-traditional political mobilisation tools to kill electoral apathy in youths and motivate them to register, collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and vote in the 2023 elections.
Nigerian Resident Representative to UNDP, Mohamed Yahya, at the meeting with the media, noted that the project’s target was to leverage the large number of potential first-time voters, especially young people. He expressed worry that an estimated five million Nigerians turn 18 yearly, and join the league of voters.
According to him, this translates to about 20 million potential new voters from 2019 to 2023, the election year. His words: “This increase in the level of first-time voters provides an opportunity for young people to determine the next set of leaders for the country through their participation in active citizenship.
“Young Nigerians and women play a critical role in democracy, as they can act as catalysts for social change and good governance, simply by participating in the election process. Their enthusiasm, resilience and creativity need to be harnessed, paired with the right platforms and opportunities for engagement to help catalyse important changes in Nigeria’s political system.”
Yahya noted that though young people between the ages of 18 and 35 make up 51.1 per cent of registered voters, only 46 per cent voted in the 2019 elections.
“This missed opportunity for young people to shape governance in Nigeria can be reversed with a political mobilisation strategy premised on innovation, inclusion, collaboration, consistency and context-specific interventions,” he added.
For the Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, the project consists of activities that will create platforms for civic engagement and access to information, including the recently launched Power of 18 Challenge.
Nigerian youths have the number to determine the result of elections, Itodo insisted, adding that this can translate to good governance.
“Our desire is not just to push for huge number of young people to come out and vote, but to also vote for issues and candidates that will deliver the good governance they yearn for.”
The newly launched project aims at increasing youth voter turnout in the 2023 election from 33.5 per cent to 60 per cent, “which is 29 million young voters through traditional and non-traditional means, to ensure that young people play a significant role in determining the next set of leaders for Nigeria; empower young women and men to build a community of young civic actors, who are passionate about democracy as well as complement the voter mobilisation initiative by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Itodo added that the project would help to build a solid peer-to-peer voter-mobilisation system to build a Nigeria where young people, with their large number, could determine the next set of leaders.
“The #SixtyPercentOfUs initiative will focus on states with low voter registration and PVC rates across the country, to ensure high turnout of youth voters in the 2023 elections,” he stated.