Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium of the University of Port Harcourt was filled to the brim as over 2000 students turned up for the YouthVotesCount Campus Outreach program for South-South along with Star Celebrities, Ayo Makun; AY, Banky Wellingnton; Banky W, Waje and Bright Okpocha, also known as BasketMouth. It was an electric atmosphere with celebrities as students of the University commit to get registered, Vote and defend their votes in a peaceful manner as the 2019 elections approaches.
Having hosted the program in the University of Abuja, University of Lagos, Bayero University, Kano, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in collaboration with YIAGA AFRICA, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the European Union in Nigeria, took the Voter education campaign to University of Port Harcourt. During the event on Monday, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said, although it’s just 172 days to the first voting in the 2019 General Elections, the commission started its preparation long ago with Continuous Voters Registration and distribution of Permanent Voters Card.
According to the Chairman who was represented by National Commissioner, Prince Adedeji Soyebi said, for every election conducted by the commission, over 600,000 young people are being utilized. Prince Soyebi revealed that come 2019, INEC will engage over 1million youths in various capacities for the successful conduct of the general elections saying young people are the nucleus of elections. He however decried that the huge percentage of young people on the voter register doesn’t reflect representation in the political process and decision making.
Prince Soyebi also said, a lot of underage voters have been expunged from the voter register. He said Nigerians should always draw attention of the commission during display claims and objections of Voter register on issues relating to underage voters and foreigners on the voter register.
Also speaking during the outreach program, INEC head of Voter education, Barrister Oluwale Osaze Uzi said bad leaders are elected by good people who don’t vote as he urges students to shun violence during election.
The celebrities on parade also took turns to speak on the role of young people in the electoral process as they encouraged the students to get registered, get their Permanent Voters Card and vote come election day. According the stars, the nation has remained backward because of young people’s apathy towards electoral process and politics in Nigeria.
They further urged young not to allow themselves to be manipulated and used by politicians as Uti said, Politicians lose their powers if young people refuse to be manipulated and used for electoral violence. According to Banky W, we have up 200million Nigerians and at least about 83 million Registered Voters but unfortunately only 15 million Votes was required to win the Presidential election in 2015 which is barely 10% of the entire population.