The Disposition of Nigerian Youths Towards Forthcoming Elections
The forthcoming presidential election is where Nigeria decides where its head is at and what it wants for generations to come. How Nigerians understand and take part in it would…
●5th December 2022
From a consistently declining economy to gruesome murders across different regions and to a diminishing educational sector which thrives on industrial actions — you wouldn’t think this is a country with the largest economy in Africa, the biggest crude oil exporter, and home to thousands of renowned celebrities.
For almost a decade, it’s been survival of the fittest for millions of Nigerians enduring different tenures of retrogressive governance, seemingly favourable to a selective few. If you’re wealthy, they say Nigeria is the best place to live because of how much lawlessness it cultivates and of course, how it keeps over 43% of its people below the poverty line and 25%, vulnerable. This is a total of 143m people.
The outcome of the recent party primary elections in the country was a refresher of the degeneracy in the country’s elite structure and an eye-opener to how the 2023 elections would run if caution is not taken. But a more striking factor is the surge in registering, collecting and transferring Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). It is an indication that young Nigerians particularly have decided to take power into their hands ahead of next year’s general election.
There seems to be a reenactment of the 2020 #Endsars protest which was dominated by youths fighting for their freedom from oppression and extrajudicial killings. Unlike 2020 though, young Nigerians have refused to be shot at recklessly and called insurrectionists for protesting their rights. Out and about, there have been numerous volunteer bodies and coalitions springing up to resist voter suppression and prevent the Endsars massacre from recurring— grassroots evangelism is combing the darndest parts of Nigeria and beyond for new and sustainable governance.
The forthcoming presidential election is where Nigeria decides where its head is at and what it wants for generations to come. How Nigerians understand and take part in it would cement the country’s path towards reformation or total doom. While all the errs of the current government and even former governments may not see amelioration in the nearest future, a sound candidate emerging winner in 2023 will pave the way and ensure the continuity of good governance in Nigeria. Young Nigerians are quite not oblivious of this fact and unlike in past elections, have vowed to actively take part.
Out of the 16 presidential candidates from different parties, only 4 have emerged as strong contenders ahead of the elections. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Bola Tinubu of the sitting party, All Progressive Congress (APC). All four parties have successfully amassed strong support from youths who are ready to go all out.
Nuraddeen Musa, an executive member of the Kwankwasiyya movement (a coalition for Presidential aspirant, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP), says that the youths will play the biggest part in the 2023 elections. In Northern Nigeria, Nuraddeen asserts that the Kwankwasiyya movement engages thousands of young people yearly as more of them get enthused to join in the fight for a better Nigeria. He believes that with Kwankwaso’s influence and track record of solidifying education in one of the largest states in Nigeria, he is poised to win the forthcoming elections.
“Kwankwaso is the only person whose record of what he did in a public office is not comparable with anyone among other candidates,” Nuraddeen begins.
“Having constructed thousands of classrooms across all the primary schools in Kano state, hundreds of secondary schools and over twenty high institutions including the two state universities, Kwankwaso continues to secure admissions for Kano state indigenes in Nigerian Universities to make sure that Kano state utilizes their quota in all the Nigerian Universities.”
In governance, Nuraddeen attests to Kwankwaso’s methods being fair and equitable seeing how he invested greatly in the development of youths and women alike, hence the cult-like support from them.
“Kwankwaso is the only person whose record of what he did in a public office isn’t comparable with any other candidate.”
“He is the governor who served two terms without borrowing a single kobo from either Abroad or within Nigeria.”
For the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, Waziri AbdulMalik is geared up for his win in the forthcoming election even though he initially wanted power to go to the South. During the PVC registration period, Waziri actively indulged in sensitising people on the importance of PVCs and till now, still preaches the Atikulated (a term used to classify Atiku’s supporters) gospel.“I’m a lover of politics and this is the first time I’ll actually participate in the electioneering process of the country,” Waziri tells us.
“Actually, I had wanted power to go to the South, but after reading Atiku Abubakar’s policy document — the UNITY- SEED (security, economy, education, and Devolution of powers for States and local government to have control)—it contains what he wants to achieve when he gets there and I’m pinning for him.”
Atiku’s message of restructuring Nigeria which piques the interest of many Nigerians and has drawn several supporters to him, sits right with Waziri.
“He’s a big convener of restructuring and this is one of the major reasons I support him.”
“Also, he’s the second highest employer of labour in his home state of Adamawa after the state Government, ” he says.
“I’m happy with the interest the youths have in the 2023 elections because it’s almost like our last chance to get it right after the mistake of 2015. I’ll be campaigning properly for him when the campaign starts in a few weeks and make sure I sensitize people about his candidacy and why he’s needed.”
The Labour Party which has now risen from third force to opposition in 3 months, now houses the dreams of many young Nigerians after Peter Obi was announced their presidential aspirant. Speaking with Zeal Eberechukwu, he affirms that the past apathetic behaviours of many young Nigerians, especially in the Southeast, towards the 2023 elections is waning even as he continues to engage in discussions that stress the importance of PVCs.
Declaring his solidarity with Peter Obi, Zeal says, “before the emergence of Mr Peter Obi, I had an indifferent attitude towards Nigerian elections as I had formerly lost interest in the Nigerian project. But with the emergence of Peter Obi from an unknown party and not the two top dogs, I started to feel a glimpse of hope again.”
Zeal attests to being drawn to the LP flagbearer after listening and verifying information about some of his exploits in Anambra, to whichevery Anambra person can attest. “His policies prioritized education and also ensured that excessive spending and waste were minimised to the barest minimum. When he came on board, I listened to him, I checked his past records and I saw someone who can redefine the things we see in Nigeria’s politics,” Zeal tells Bside.
“Accusations have come, but they always turn out false.”
Zeal believes there’s no other candidate that can boast of integrity as much as Peter Obi, drawing from his clean past records and method of governance which ensured that funds weren’t misappropriated. “His analysis on how best Nigeria’s economy can be controlled and managed were the things I saw as uncommon features as well as his ethics on spending extravagantly,” Zeal states.
With INEC’s released data on voter registrations, Zeal says over 50% are youths, the exact demographic who are the piers of Peter Obi’s structure. He believes that this time, Nigerians would get it right and win with Peter Obi.