#SixtyPercentOfUs: UNDP, Yiaga Africa launch project to mobilize 29 million young voters
As Nigeria gears up towards the February 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Yiaga Africa have launched the project titled #SixtyPercentOfUs, so as to mobilize young voters to register, collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and vote in the coming elections.
The project aims to leverage the large number of potential first-time voters who are young people: every year, an estimated 4.5-5 million Nigerians turn 18 (the constitutional age of electoral franchise), which translates to between 18-20 million potential ‘new voters’ from the 2019 general elections to the 2023 general elections. This increase in the level of first-time voters provides an opportunity for young people to determine the next set of leaders for the country through their participation in active citizenship.
Although young people between the ages of 18-35 make up 51.1% of registered voters, only 46% of these voters turned out to vote in the 2019 elections. This missed opportunity for young people to shape governance in Nigeria can be reversed with a political mobilization strategy premised on innovation, inclusion, collaboration, consistency, and context-specific interventions.
Speaking at the launch, Mohamed Yahya, the Resident Representative of UNDP in Nigeriasaid that the project will complement the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s voter mobilization initiatives, through youth mobilization, digital campaigns and offline campaigns. According to him, the 33.5% youth voter turnout from the 2019 election was very poor, and so the project aims to do everything possible to get 60% of youth voters to turnout in 2023.
In his words, “if we want democracy to flourish, we need to get young people to register and vote.”
Samson Itodo, Yiaga Africa’s Executive Director explained that the project will focus on the 13 states with the lowest voter turnout, according to data by INEC.
“The SixtyPercentOfUs project contains different components, like the Power Of 18 challenge which is a current call to empower young Nigerians between 18 and 30 years old to carry out any civic innovative idea on how they will mobilize 5000 young voters,” he explained.
Itodo said the project also has the PVC Collection Bus, which will solve the problem of transportation and distance that young people encounter in registering and picking up their PVCs. According to him, this aspect of the project will run in certain rural communities across the country.
In her presentation, the Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu said that the SheVotes initiative is also part of the SixtyPercentOfUs Project. This initiative seeks to partner with women groups across the country, mobilizing them to register and vote, and also to mobilize their communities. To this end, there will be an increase in the percentage of female voter registration across the country.
Mbamalu said, “for us to truly practice democracy in our country, we must ensure that all groups are included in the process of decision making. That means the youths, women and persons living with disabilities must be carried along.”
Also speaking, hip-hop star and CEO of TASCK Jude 'MI' Abaga praised the zeal evident in young Nigerians recently, and agreed that the project is a step in the right direction in making sure that the zeal is translated to action.
The SixtyPercentOfUs project will focus on three goals: raising awareness about the importance of active political participation, understanding the process, and inspiring action in the youths of Nigeria.
It will be implemented by Yiaga Africa in partnership with WeVote Nigeria, DEAN Initiative and NESSACTION with the support of the United Nations Development Programme.