Critical stakeholders, including Non Governmental Organisations, poltical class and public spirited individuals have advised that in order to change the country’s odd narratives, youths should fully participate in next year’s elections and ensure they protect their votes.
The advice was given during a voter’s enlightenment workshop which took place in Calabar, weekend, and had the theme ‘I pledge to Vote.’
The workshop, which was organized by an organisation – Run To Win, in partnership with Madiba Foundation for Good Governance, MacArthur Foundation and Centre for Journalism Innovations and Development (CJID), had participants drawn from socio-political youth groups, non-governmental organisations (NG0), corporate organisations and public spirited individuals.
Speaking, Ibukun Tunbi, Programme Manager of the Run To Win appealed to youths to take ownership of Nigeria’s political horizon through full coming out to vote next year.
She said, “Youths should exercise their franchise because their franchise is their power. Involvement, coming out to vote and voting right is the only way youths can change the narratives.”
Challenging youths to engage candidates of their choices, Tunbi explained that “I pledge to vote is organised with the aim of creating a platform to sensitise the youths on the need to identify the right candidates in the 2023 election so as to maximize the value of their votes”.
Corroborating, the Programme Manager of Madiba Foundation for Good Governance, Ozohu Otonoku, reasoned that “it is not enough to register, youths should come out enmasse to vote for the candidate of their choice on election days and also hold those who would emerge victorious to accountability after assumption of office.”
Also speaking, one of the resource persons and senior special assistant to Gov Ben Ayade on inter-governmental affairs, Chris Ogar, said political parties and their leaders are conniving with sit-tight politicians to frustrate, ridicule and bury the Not Too Young To Run Act which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.
He said many youths who would have loved to be fully involved in political processes were being hindered by huge cost, saying the The Not Too Young to Run Act has become a theoretical jamboree.
“The huge cost of nomination forms, the high logistics for campaigns as well as the issue of vote buying, are threats to the Not Too Young to Run Act, and if these anomalies continue, the Act would be as good as dead,” he warned.
To Sylva Bogbo, the Initiator of Young Aspirants Movement, the challenge facing the maximization of the benefits of the Not Too Young to Run Act is that of trust
“It is true that the Not Too Young to Run Act is more in principle than in practice. There is a vacuum of trust. The elderly politicians do not trust the youths,” he stated, and advised that for the fact that Nigerian youths have confidence in themselves, they should be allowed to exhibit their potential.
He further appealed to political parties to consider reducing nomination forms by 90 percent for aspirants within the age range of the Act, and also charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure high cost of electoral process and vote buying even during party primaries, are monitored with a view to bringing the vices to an end.
On her part, Mrs Inyang Ikpeme, the Public Affairs Officer of Indeoendent National Electoral Commission, INEC, called on voters to collect their over ninety thousand Permanent Voters Cards, PVC, which were still awaiting collection by their owners in the State to enable them vote in 2023.
“Those who registered between January 2021 and June 2022 have their cards ready in our offices close to where they registered and those who registered from the end of June 2022 to July 31 2022 can go for their cards in the second week of October, 2022,” she advised.