Road to 2023 Elections: Yiaga Africa, Partners organise concert to increase youth voter turnout in Lagos State
As the 2023 elections draw nearer, Yiaga Africa in partnership with the European Union is mobilising 25,000 young people to attend a Mega Concert in Lagos state as part of efforts to encourage and inspire them to vote in the elections.
The concert, which is tagged under the #YouthVoteCount 2.0 project combines popular culture and civic activism and will be held at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) on Saturday, June 11, 2022. The concert is free to attend with the price of admission being a Permanent Voters Card (PVC) or a Temporary Voter’s Slip. To this end, Yiaga Africa and the European Union are also working with the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) to register 100,000 persons at the TBS in this week leading up to the concert.
The #YouthVoteCountNG project is a nonpartisan civic campaign designed to promote positive political behavioural attitudes amongst young people. It leverages popular culture, technology and media to mobilise young people to participate in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection. Ultimately, the campaign contributes to existing efforts aimed at deepening democratic practice through active citizens participation in transparent, credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.
The Mega Concert was officially announced at a press conference held by Yiaga Africa, the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN), INEC, the International Press Centre and the Institute for Media and Society.
Speaking at the press conference, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, said “to get it right in 2023, youths must take things seriously and get ready to vote. The civically conscious artistes coming for the Mega Concert will be an incentive, so we expect 25,000 youths to come out to watch the Mega concert.”
He also expressed worry over the high rate of uncollected PVCs in Lagos state, and lauded citizens to seize the opportunity of the concert to collect their voters cards in their INEC Local Government Area offices.
“We’re in this together, and we have the option of taking a stand, or sitting back and doing nothing,” said Laolu Olawumi, the Programme Manager, European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria. According to her, The Youth Vote Count campaign has created platforms where young people can interact with stakeholders like INEC, and have the opportunity to begin to change their narratives on political participation.”
In preparation for the concert, Yiaga Africa and the European Union Support to Democratic Governance also hosted about 30 members and heads of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Lagos to debrief them on the concert, partner with them on mobilising attendees, discuss the challenges faced by citizens in participating in the elections and the way forward.
Among the state-based CSOs at the Roundtable were heads and representatives of Institute of Media and Society, Ready to Lead Africa, Gender & Childcare Advancement Initiative, Enough Is Enough, ElectHer, TASCK, and Centre for Citizens with Disabilities.
”Asking people to come to INEC office to collect their PVCs is not yielding desired results, that's the pull strategy, we need to adopt the “The Push Strategy” by decentralising the distribution process. People at the grassroots need to have their PVCs,” said Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa.
Itodo also expressed worry over the coming elections, especially due to the very low rate of voter registration in Lagos state and urged INEC to extend the process by about three weeks to enable more people register to vote.
In their submissions, the CSOs present at the Roundtable urged INEC to remove every bottlenecks and hitches people encounter in the process of getting ready for the elections. They also implored INEC to let everyone vote from any part of the country.
They also expressed their gratitude to Yiaga Africa and the European Union for bridging the gap between entertainment and civic action through the Youth Vote Count concert. They lauded INEC for sending personnel and machines to TBS to register citizens through the week, and promised to spread the word and mobilise their own communities to make use of this opportunity.
In the same vein, Yiaga Africa and the European Union organised a training for 200 volunteers drawn from civil society Organisations and higher institutions of learning in Lagos State that will help with the Continuous Voter Registration ongoing at the Tafawa Balewa Square as well as help in the planning and execution of the Mega Concert on Saturday 11th June 2022.
Speaking at the training, Yiaga Africa Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu emphasised the importance of adopting voting as a culture amongst young people, who must take action for Nigerian democracy to flourish.
“It’s your role as young people to become voter education evangelists. Speak to everyone, especially peers, about the importance of engaging in the electoral process,” she said.
Also speaking, Yetunde Bakare, Senior Program Officer, Yiaga Africa spoke on the low voter-turnout rate especially in Lagos. “This is the Soro Soke youths, but the turnout on the Area Council elections last year was poor, and so Lagos youths must restrategize and come out in their numbers,” she said.