Joshua Alade, Victoria Ibiwoye and Oyindamola Johnson — Youth Advocates in Nigeria
The 2015 Nigerian General Elections had about eight-two million registered voters with about fifty-five million people actually voting during the general election. Nigeria had a population of about 175 million in 2015 which means that just sixty-one percent of the population registered to vote and only about thirty percent actually voted. Poor voter education, ease in registration and voting and disinterest in politics are one of the reasons why most Nigerians shy away from the polls.
With a youth population of about fifty-five million in 2015, it shows the importance of young Nigerians in electioneering. The average Nigerian youth has lost interest in the affairs of the nation and there is a growing dissent amongst youth that Nigeria does not care about the youth. According to
the African Union, a youth is anyone between the ages of 18 and 35, a vital component of a growing population. According to reports, the average Nigerian population is about 200 million for 2018 with about 60 to 70 percent being young people. This brings to the table that the voice of young Nigerians will be essential in deciding how the nation will be ruled beyond 2019.
With the rising unemployment in the nation, insurgency, lack of access of medical care and the insistent strikes in government owned universities forcing most Nigerian parents to send their children to schools abroad, the 2019 General Elections is an opportunity for young people in Nigeria to vote their future.
Prior to the 2015 elections, a new wave of campaign by young people asking to be able to be voted for during elections popularly called The #NotTooYoungToRun bill was in the work. The campaign by youth led organizations called on all arms of government from the federal to the state to ensure that young people from 35 years can aspire for the highest office in the land and also a reduction in the age for governorship and house of assembly to 30 years. This bill was assented to by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration on May 31, 2018.
However, participating in elections in Nigeria is really expensive as obtaining party tickets cost millions of naira. Most young people in Nigeria cannot afford this. Just recently, Nigeria was named the poverty capital of the world surpassing India with a population that is twice ours. Many young people have lost hope in the ruling class and will usually take to social media to vent their frustration or try to get creative using comedy or jokes. Many others are working just to get an opportunity to leave the country and the few who cannot go to religious centres praying for a better nation. The year 2019 is a vital year for governance in Nigeria.
The #NotTooYoungCampaign has awoken the desire of young Nigerians to participate in elections and an increased desire to create a better nation. Young people are asking vital questions in relation to education, healthcare, jobs and ensuring that politicians keep their campaign promises.
There is a growing base of national campaigners led by ONE Nigeria who are working in grassroot communities across Nigeria encouraging young Nigerians to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and vote in people who will listen and act for the cause of youth.
The young people in Nigeria are a critical mass of the Nigerian population and
this is the best time to vote our future. This is what young people are asking for: a Nigeria where the human capacity development of her young people is invested in, where there are jobs and good housing, a Nigeria where the medical facilities work and are accessible to everyone irrespective of tribe, tongue or physical ability, a nation where the dreams of young
people can be birthed and achieved with increasing respect in the community of nations. Young people are asking for leaders who will launch us into the future of work while putting up structures that will ensure we meet the target of the Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.
As we go to the polls in 2019, two things will be on our mind: electing leaders who will listen to youth and work with youth to create a better Nigeria for everyone.