The executive director of the BBYDI and Youth Power Panelist, Abideen Olasupo, said the initiative became imperative in large part due to the poor voting culture among Nigerians. He said that falling voter turnout over the years has been alarming.
According to him, events in the past 21 years of the nation’s democratic history have continued to discourage young citizens from exercising their civic responsibilities. Olasupo believes that the initiative would closely review the country’s electoral laws to revive citizens’ faith in elections.
The electoral laws are archaic and do not match the realities of a developing country in the 21st century. I believe that a review of these laws is the first step in initiating the change we desire.”
Voter Apathy in Nigeria.
“We have researched and analysed some of the factors responsible for this voter apathy. We realized violence during elections have been instrumental as citizens have genuine reasons to worry about their safety due to the kind of violence that comes with many elections in the country.”
A breakdown of the election turnout in 1999 and 2019 shows a drastic contrast in the number of registered voters and votes cast. In the 1999 election ( a year that marked Nigeria’s return to civil rule). a total number of 57,938,045 million people registered to vote. However, only a 29,848, 441 million people voted.
In the last general election in 2019, 84,004,084 million people registered to vote while only 28,614,190 million people cast their votes. This represented 34.96 per cent of the registered voters. The declining figure, according to BBYDI, is unconnected to electoral fraud and violence recorded during the electioneering period which discourages citizens from turning out en masse to exercise their rights duties.
These figures are worrying. They show that despite the increase in our population, voters apathy has also increased. For a country in dire need of quality leadership, citizens must be more involved in the process that selects their leaders.”
Our data revealed that in every election in Nigeria since 1999, lives have been lost as a result of violence during elections. Other factors include the lack of trust in the system, massive rigging, corruption, etc. We have identified many of these inhibiting factors and developed a framework to resolve them.
Engaging young Nigerians to make voting accessible.
BBYDI said it proposed to engage young Nigerians across the 774 local governments in the country to mobilise grassroots support for the objectives of the project.
We have today launched our website and social media platforms to kickstart a process aimed at increasing voter participation in our elections, keeping the populace enlightened about our electoral laws, facilitate the review of our electoral laws, create digital systems to actively get involved, etc.”
Abideen Olasupo is a Global Goals Youth Panel Member and the founder and executive director of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative. He also championed the translation of the SDGs into local languages and is currently mobilising community campaigners to meet stakeholders across all the 774 LGAs in a bid to help in the localisation, and most importantly, the achievement of the SDGs.