The European Union (EU) has partnered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organise the second edition of ‘Youth Votes Count’, a free music concert to encourage more youths to register and vote in the 2023 general elections.
The organisers emphasised the need for younger people to be actively involved in the political processes, saying this would bridge the gap of voter apathy in the country.
Speaking about the project, Project Manager at EU, Mrs. Olaolu Olawunmi, said the concert would take place at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos on Saturday, June 11, by 10 a.m. and the only gate pass needed is the Personal Voter Card (PVC) or Temporary Voter Card (TVC).
‘Youth Vote Count’ initiative is a non-partisan campaign, funded by the EU and was launched in 2018 with the sole objective of getting young people to participate more in the electoral process.
Olawunmi lamented that there is disconnect between the younger generation and political processes, saying that this is as a result of high degree of distrust in the electoral processes.
She said: “This has been a long time in planning and we are very happy that we are at a stage where we are implementing the plan and looking towards a successful conclusion. It has taken a lot of teamwork to get to where we are today and we agreed that the electoral process would be inclusive, transparent and efficient and that there are efforts to ensure that the process is continuously improved.
“The ‘Youth Vote Count’ is a non partisan campaign that was launched in 2018 with the sole objective of getting young people to participate more in the electoral process. The population of young people in this country is huge but that has not translated to an effective participation in the electoral process. We want to get young Nigerians to get involved.
“We know that there is a high level of voter apathy and the reason people don’t want to engage is because they don’t believe that the system would work for them. They don’t believe that how they cast their votes would influence the kind of leaders that we would get at the end of the day.
“Even if you decide not to engage, it is a decision that would affect the political process, so why not lend your voice? This is the message that the Youth Vote Count is trying to pass across,” she said.
Also speaking at the press conference, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Olusegun Agbaje, hinted that there is no plan to extend the date of Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), while urging the youths to get their PVCs.
Agbaje assured that the commission is working hard to ensure that all votes count, adding that to make the process easier, the commission brought 50 capturing machines from Abuja and added more polling units to Lagos.
He said, “We wanted to bring the youths together, talk with them so that they can know that their votes would count in the general election and they have up to the end of June 30 when the exercise would have been completed.
“The CVR would end on June 30 and the commission does not have any intention of extending the date any further and that is why the EU has partnered with INEC to ensure that we bring as many on board as we can get among the youths, particularly in Lagos State.
“What we are doing here today is not going to be limited to Lagos State alone, it will be done in all parts of the federation. We are only kick starting from here. Those who want to transfer their PVC to a closer polling unit, those whose PVCs are damaged all came here.
“Last year, the commission improved the number of polling units that we have in Lagos State but many of them have not been properly populated. It would be too bad if we go for election and the commission has to be printing ballot papers and there won’t be voters.
“I have told the European Union that every week we usually capture about 25,000 every week. About 50 machines have been brought from Abuja and they are working perfectly and in good use.
“I wish to sincerely thank the EU for their support to ensure we have a very successful outcome. The EU has spent a lot of money to organise the concert and we don’t want it to go to waste. We want everyone to come and watch the show, which is free. The only gate fee you need to show is your PVC or Temporary Voters Card,” he said.
Some of the artists expected are Kizz Daniel, who will headline the show, MI, Teni the Entertainer, Tubaba, Falz, Patoranking, Mayorkun, Omawunmi and actors like Chioma Chukwuka, Mr. Macaroni, among others.