Festus Okoye, the commissioner for information and voter education of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has adviced Nigerian youths to maximise their numerical strength in elections in order to effect change.
The commissioner gave the advice on Thursday while speaking on the topic, ‘Broadening Youth Participation in the Electoral Process’, at a virtual conversation tagged ‘Thursday Talks’.
Speaking at the event, Okoye said: “It is the responsibility of the young people to take their destiny into their hands. If the total number of registered voters in Nigeria has the young people having over 62 to 65 percent of the population, they should use their population and numerical strength maximally in order to effect change,”
“During the 2019 elections, when we were doing campus outreach, we went to the campus of one of the universities and I made a determination that considering the number of polling units in the campus, if the students came together and sponsored a candidate and vote for the candidate, the candidate is going to get 70 percent of the votes because over 70 percent of the polling units in relation to one particular state constituency was located on campus.
“So, the issue is realising the power in organisation — people taking their destiny into their hands and organising ideologically — because you cannot organise in a vacuum.
“So, it’s either young people go into the existing political parties and change the narrative or they can also package their own political party, nurture it, and then upgrade it as a political party that has the capacity to be in political power. I think the ball is in the court of the youths.”
Speaking further, Okoyes said the electoral umpire will do “whatever it takes to make sure youths have an inclusive voice in the electoral process”.
“We’ll continue to broaden the frontiers of the electoral process using technology to make sure no segment of our population is left behind in terms of political participation,