Yiaga Africa Executive Director, Samson Itodo has said that coalition and strategic partnership are necessary to ensure that there is a higher youth turnout in the 2023 election. In his words, ‘‘Yiaga Africa realizes we can not do it alone. There was therefore a need to build a coalition. It also occurred to us that we had heard different ideas from young people but the main issue was funding. We, therefore, decided to pursue this project, with support from our partners at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).’’
Itodo said this during the Voter Mobilization Lab which was held last Friday for the 20 winners of #ThePowerOf18 Challenge 3.0. The challenge is an initiative of Yiaga Africa with support from the UNDP to collate the most innovative civic ideas on mobilizing youths for Permanent Voters Card (PVC) collection and voter mobilization towards the 2023 general elections. These young people selected from strategically selected 20 states in Nigeria are activists who are individually working on increased youth participation in their respective states.
This consolidates the previous partnership with citizens from 15 states during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which ended on July 31st, 2022. This intervention resulted from the coalition and strategic collaboration among citizen groups from across 15 states with low CVR registration at the time. It ultimately contributed to a spike in voter registration among these states, as well as facilitated the collection of PVCs among citizens. The assurances that citizens are now more disposed to turn out and vote during elections, as well as participate in the political process has been a most remarkable achievement of this collaborative effort.
It is therefore imperative to build on this achievement through #ThePowerOf18 3.0 by ensuring that more young people, especially women, are assisted in collecting their PVCs in the post-CVR phase. This is in addition to creating adequate awareness and sensitization that will also encourage their full participation in the political process. Hence, the VML was organized to equip these winners with the relevant tools to engage in voter mobilization in their respective states and across the country.
Also present at the VML was Deryck Fritz, representing the UNDP, who reiterated that young people between the ages of 18-35 make up more than half of Nigerian citizens on the register. ‘‘We have to make sure that this translates to actual participation in the elections. This roughly 71 % of youths on the register must turn out to vote; we must do all within our powers to make that happen.’’
Participants who attended the VML, having been fully equipped, expressed their commitment to implement their project, and also expressed gratitude to Yiaga Africa and the UNDP for the opportunity to select their proposals. The patriotism and commitment to carrying out their proposals to the latter, and their zeal for ensuring young people's political participation were glaring during interactions at the VML, and there was no doubt that these selected young people would deliver on this commitment towards ensuring that at least 100,000 registered young people pick up their PVCs across the states.
The states in focus are Anambra, Enugu, Edo, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Yobe, Lagos, Adamawa, Rivers, Imo, Plateau, Cross River, Benue, Gombe, Kano, Ondo, Ogun, Sokoto, Kebbi and the FCT. The #SixtyPercentOfUs project seeks to ensure that 60% of eligible young voters register, collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and vote in the 2023 elections. Yiaga Africa remains committed to ensuring greater citizens' participation in the electoral process through traditional and non-traditional tools of political mobilization.
The #SixtyPercentOfUs project is aimed at ensuring that at least sixty percent of registered young voters turnout in the 2023 elections by leveraging a large number of potential first-time voters – majorly Nigerians who have just attained the legal age of 18, which translates to about 18-20 million youth between 2019 and 2022.