By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Growing electoral apathy, particularly among the elite, has been described as a major challenge hampering sustainable development in Nigeria.
Speaking with journalists, in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital on Thursday, a group of young political enthusiasts, under the aegis of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, urged Nigerians of voting age, who are yet to register to take advantage of planned resumption of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise by the INEC scheduled for the first quarter of this year.
The leader of the group, Abideen Olasupo, who said that electoral apathy had characterised six general elections held in the country since 1999, added that the development was influenced by factors such as electoral violence, political thuggery, rigging, among others.
He said: “Nonetheless, elections are what determine the quality of leadership a country has. Growing political apathy harms the development of the country. This is one of the reasons why we have decided to launch a project, tagged, YVoteNaija.
“YVoteNaija is a project using data and digital systems to increase voter participation in elections and create a culture of participatory democracy.
“We set out to educate Nigerians on the need to actively participate in the electoral process. We shall also be advocating free, fair and peaceful elections. The process of electing public officials must be transparent and citizens must exercise their franchise without fear.
“This project will also address issues such as voter education, electoral violence, getting voter card and making the electoral laws accessible to more citizens. As the 2023 elections approach us, our mission is to play an active role in increasing participation in elections, especially among young people. We will be working with various stakeholders including INEC, community-based organisations, religious institutions, youth led and women groups as well as the media to make this project a success. We will also fashion out ways to erase barriers to greater political participation. It is important we increase people’s participation in the electoral process and make it more meaningful.”
Olasupo, who charged Nigerians, especially, the youth to get involved in electoral process, said that such action would end bad leadership.
“People must know that numbers matter a lot in elections. There is strength in numbers. We must therefore use our numbers to elect leaders of our choice to ensure the real change and development we want for Nigeria and ourselves. We cannot continue to rant and complain without taking actions. We must take actions to end bad leadership in the country, and that starts with us registering to get our Permanent Voters’ Cards and going out en masse on election days to vote leaders of our choice,” he added.