• Tue. May 28th, 2024

National Tribune

Flagging The Conscience Of Truth

Will an Increase in Youth Voter Participation Impact the 2023 Elections?

93.5 million registered voters for the 2023 general election, will the youth voter turnout be a significant factor?

INEC announces 93.5 million registered voters for upcoming elections, with youth and students making up the largest demographic. Lagos state has the highest number of registered voters. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of INEC, announced that out of the total number of 93.5 million registered voters, 52.5% are male and 47.5% are female.

The age distribution of registered voters shows that 39.65% are youth between 18-34, 35.75% are middle-aged between 35-49, 18.94% are elderly between 50-69, and 5.66% are senior citizens 70 and above. Occupationally, students make up the largest group of voters at 27.8%, followed by farmers/fishermen at 15.8% and housewives at 13.9%. Voter distribution by state shows Lagos as the highest with 7,060,195 registered voters, followed by Kano, Kaduna, Rivers, Katsina, Oyo, Delta, Plateau, Benue, and Bauchi.

INEC revealed that data on voter disability was not collected in previous registration. However, 85,362 persons with disabilities were identified in the recent Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), with 24.5% having albinism, 15.7% having physical impediments, and 9.5% being blind. The voter population in Nigeria was 84 million in the 2019 election, but with 9.5 million new voters added during the recent CVR exercise, the preliminary register now stands at 93.5 million. Voter turnout in the 2019 election was 35.66% with a total of 28.6 million votes. The Northwest region had the highest voter turnout, with states such as Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina having the highest voter turnout among other states. Lagos was the only southern state among the states with the highest voter turnout with 1.16 million votes.

The South region had the lowest voter turnout in the 2019 presidential election, with Bayelsa having the least voter turnout of 336,000 votes, followed by Abia with 334,000 votes. Ebonyi, Ekiti, and Cross River also had low voter turnout. According to International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (I-IDEA), Nigeria’s voter turnout in the 2019 election was the lowest among all recent elections on the African continent. I-IDEA data shows that Rwanda had the highest voter turnout of 98.2% in their 2017 presidential election, while the top 10 countries with the highest voter turnout in their most recent elections are Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Seychelles, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Liberia, and Burundi.

According to data from I-IDEA, the countries with the lowest voter turnout in their most recent elections are Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Mozambique, Sudan, Sao Tome, and Principe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Egypt, Cape Verde, and Nigeria. Factors that contribute to low voter turnout include lack of voter education, ineffective voter mobilization, fear of violence during elections, unfulfilled promises by elected officials, low public trust in government institutions, electoral malpractice, and dissatisfaction with the current or previous government, and their candidates. Security Digest editor, Chidi Omeje, believes that voter turnout in the upcoming election will be higher than in previous elections due to the heightened awareness among young people. The demographic data released by INEC shows that the youth make up the largest portion of potential voters in this election.

Omeje believes that the recent #EndSARS revolution has ignited a sense of awareness and consciousness among the youth to participate in nation-building through democratic processes such as voting. He notes that even those who were previously not interested in voting are now more engaged, as seen during the Continuous Voter Registration. Omeje is optimistic that out of the 93 million registered voters, there could be a turnout of 50-65%, but emphasizes that INEC must find ways to make it easier for people to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), as the process of registering and collecting PVCs has been difficult for many Nigerians. He stresses that INEC must play a role in facilitating a high voter turnout by making PVCs easily accessible to the people.

Omeje is positive that despite security challenges such as kidnappings and threats in some regions, the desire of the people to bring about change in leadership will overcome any obstacles. He believes that this election will see a larger voter turnout than previous ones, particularly with the youth making up the largest voting bloc. Additionally, a Legislative Consultant and Public Affairs Commentator, Akinloye Oyeniyi, also expects a high voter turnout due to a large number of registered voters and the disappointment with the performance of the ruling party.

Many are questioning if the large youth demographic will result in a higher voter turnout than the 35% seen in the 2019 general elections. The answer is yes, as not only does the youth make up a significant portion of the voter population, but also dissatisfaction with the performance of the current ruling party will drive voter turnout and potentially impact the election’s outcome. As the country approaches another election cycle, all eyes are on the voter turnout and potential outcomes.

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