In a bid to boost youth participation in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the European Union (EU), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society Organisations are collaborating to ensure that more Nigerians obtain their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) before the 2023 general elections.
As a result of this collaboration, the EU and its partners have organized a mega concert at the Old Parade Ground, Abuja tagged, “Youth Vote Count 2.0”, holding from June 20-25, 2022, where INEC has in turn deployed machines and personnel to ensure smooth registration of Nigerians at the venue of the concert.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the EU Programme Manager, Political Governance and Democracy Section, Laolu Olawumi, disclosed that the essence of the partnership program fully funded by the EU, was to get more Nigerian youths involved in the electoral process by registering through the ongoing mega concert and voting on election day.
She pointed out that moving towards the 2023 elections, there was the need to encourage more Nigerian youths to register and become more involved in the political process.
Olawumi further explained that, “Over the last couple of years, we have tried to answer a very important question, and that is, how do we get young people to be more involved in the political process? Then we came up with a campaign called the ‘Youth Vote Count’ campaign back in 2018, where music concerts were organised at Universities across the country and almost 25,000 young people were registered across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
“The entire objective of the campaign is just to connect young people with centres of power, to get them to be a little bit more proactive in the governance process and to begin to shift culture and perception of young people”, she said.
For his part, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for FCT, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, disclosed that the Commission deployed over 50 voter registration machines and 150 staff to meet the needs of registrants at the ongoing “open air PVC registration”.
The deployment of the high number of machines and personnel, he said, was to ensure that many intended registrants were captured during the one week exercise, noting also that the CVR is still running at INEC offices in the six Area Councils until June 30, 2022 when the program would end.
Furthermore, the INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity (VEP), Mr Ayodele Aluko in his remarks, said the turnout is overwhelming and encouraging, stating that, “For us in INEC we are seeing this as a positive development that many people are interested in voting”.
He urged more Nigerians to come out and register for their PVCs and advised those who have collected their cards to keep them safe to enable them participate in the 2023 and future elections.
Also speaking, Samson Itodo of YIAGA Africa, disclosed that over 11,000 people registered in the just concluded mega concert that was held two weeks ago in Lagos, and expressed hope that the number would be more in Abuja.
Itodo who noted that YIAGA Africa had already appealed to INEC to extend the deadline for CVR for more Nigerians to register, said “extending the registration will make room for more young people to register”.
The mega concert which will take place on Saturday, is expected to have in attendance Celebrities who are committed to Nigeria’s democratic project, to entertain the youth and also mobilise them to participate in the forthcoming election.