Caleb Masusu explores some of the significant impacts young people and youth movements had on the outcomes of the Nigeria election 2023 and highlights opportunities that exist for young people and youth movements to continue driving change.
As the dust settles on the 2023 Nigerian elections, it is clear that young people and youth movements played a significant role in shaping the outcome of the polls. The biggest African democracy witnessed significant participation of young people.
This is an indication that the youth are becoming more politically conscious and active. From the mobilization of voters to the advocacy for youth-friendly policies, young people demonstrated their determination to make their voices heard and effect positive change in Nigeria’s political landscape.
Youth participation is critical.
The 2023 elections showed that the participation of young people is crucial to the success of any election. With Nigeria’s youth population estimated at over 60%, it is essential that young people are not only registered to vote but also actively participate in the electoral process. Young people showed up in large numbers at polling stations, and their votes made a significant impact on the final results. This highlights the need for more efforts to be made to increase youth participation in electoral processes in Nigeria.
Youth-led movements can drive change.
One of the most significant takeaways from the 2023 Nigerian elections is the role of youth-led movements in driving change. From the “Not Too Young to Run” movement to the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, young people demonstrated their ability to mobilize and effect change in Nigeria. This election was no different, with youth-led movements driving advocacy for youth-friendly policies and mobilizing young people to vote. The power of youth-led movements to drive change cannot be underestimated, and there is a need for continued support for such movements.
Youth-friendly policies are important.
The 2023 Nigerian elections highlighted the need for youth-friendly policies. Young people are the future of Nigeria, and their needs and aspirations must be taken into account when formulating policies. From education to employment, young people face unique challenges that require tailored solutions. The elections showed that political parties that put forward youth-friendly policies were more likely to attract the youth vote. This should serve as a lesson to policymakers and political parties to prioritize policies that address the needs of young people.
Role of the Media.
The media plays a critical role in elections, and the Nigerian elections were no exception. Media and social media played a significant role in shaping public opinion, influencing voter behaviour, and shaping election outcomes. In many incidents, social media was used to disseminate fake news and propaganda, which had the potential to incite violence, undermine confidence in the electoral process, and skew election results.
Although the Nigerian government and civil society organizations launched various initiatives to promote media literacy, fact-checking, and responsible social media use, these efforts were limited by the digital divide between young people in cities and rural areas. By appreciating the role of the media in the Nigerian elections, other African countries can learn how to ensure that the media reports accurately and impartially on elections.
Role of Technology.
The use of technology in elections is becoming increasingly important, and the Nigerian elections were no exception. Technology can help make elections more efficient, transparent, accessible, and secure, which can ultimately enhance the integrity and credibility of the electoral process. However, it is important to ensure that technology is implemented in a way that does not disproportionately benefit certain groups or compromise the security and accuracy of election results.
This election showed us how the digital divide remains a significant challenge in Nigeria, with the internet and technology unevenly distributed across the country. This situation can lead to disparities in the level of political engagement and participation between different regions and demographics, which can affect the legitimacy and credibility of election outcomes.
Opportunities for Young People and Youth Movements.
The 2023 Nigerian elections also present several opportunities for young people and youth movements to continue driving change in Nigeria’s political landscape.
Hold elected officials accountable.
One of the most significant opportunities for young people and youth movements is to hold elected officials accountable. Young people played a significant role in the election of officials at various levels of government. It is now up to these officials to deliver on their promises to young people. Young people and youth movements should monitor the activities of elected officials and hold them accountable for their actions or inactions.
The 2023 Nigerian elections showed that young people have the power to effect change when they mobilize. There is an opportunity for young people and youth movements to continue to mobilize and advocate for policies that address the needs of young people. With social media and other digital platforms, it has become easier to mobilize and organize for change. Young people should leverage these tools to continue to drive change in Nigeria.
Run for office.
The “Not Too Young to Run” movement paved the way for young people to run for office in Nigeria. The 2023 elections saw several young people contesting for various political offices. This is an opportunity for young people to take charge of their future and be part of the decision-making process in Nigeria. Young people who aspire to run for office should begin to prepare themselves by acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge.
The 2023 Nigerian elections demonstrated the power of young people and youth movements in shaping Nigeria’s political landscape. The elections also provided important lessons for other African countries and the rest of the world to learn from. By studying the strengths and weaknesses of the Nigerian electoral process, the major elections expected to happen around the world in 2023 and 2024 can improve electoral processes and strengthen democracies.
Caleb Masusu is a Development studies graduate from Mulungushi University, Zambia. He currently works as the Global Voice and Democracy Manager for Restless Development and is responsible for driving Restless Development’s global work towards the Voice and Democracy Strategic Priority Area, and supports young people to shift power and create new pathways for achieving more just, sustainable and democratic futures. Caleb has over 5 years progressive experience building capacity, designing and implementing adaptive social behavioural change interventions and possesses a wide understanding of development especially youth focused Life skills and gender & Sexual rights programmes as well as human rights. He has extensive experience building capacity of different development players including youth, government departments, FBOs and CSOs and has facilitated over 50 training sessions and trained over 500 volunteers, 16 NGOs. In 2023 he will be finalising his masters in Public Health public policy at the university of Lusaka in Zambia.