Poverty, Illiteracy responsible for political apathy among Nigerian Youths- Carrington Fellows

Participants at the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative, CYFI, have identified a lack of understanding of the political space, poverty, and in some cases lack of education as major barriers for political apathy among young people in Nigeria.

This came as CYFI, a youth-based initiative established by the United States Consulate, Lagos, to promote civil liberty, good governance, public health, education, and entrepreneurship, launched the national PVC Drive Campaign.

Speaking to newsmen, the President of Carrington Fellowship, Olusola Owonikoko, said “CYFI brings together Nigerian youth of exceptional skills and experience to design and implement projects that will have a positive impact on the society.

“In line with the coming elections, we today launched the PVC Drive Campaign to promote the participation of young people in electoral processes by sensitizing and mobilising them to register, get their PVCs and use it wisely in the coming elections,” Owonikoko said.

The focus of the PVC Drive campaign centred on addressing the barriers to young people’s participation in electoral processes with four versatile panelists, the discussion was moderated by award-winning journalist, Mayowa Tijani.

Aside from the lack of trust in the electoral system, Hamzat Lawal, Founder/Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE), duly represented by Busayo Morakinyo, explained that one of the major barriers to political apathy among young people is the lack of understanding of the political space, poverty and in some cases lack education considering the huge number of youths who are uneducated. 

According to him, the educated young Nigerians must engage creative ways to reach out to those with little or no education and vision for a great nation

Engaging participants from several parts of the nation who attended the campaign launch held on Zoom, one of the panelists, Dr. Azeezat Yishawu, co-founder of Constitution LAB, and a Carrington Fellow, commended Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for the laudable online registration process which so far has been commendable.

Yishawu further drew attention to Non-Governmental Organisations that are working to get young Nigerians without smartphones or access to technology in underserved communities get registered with the help of an internet-enabled computers.

Another panelist, Gabriel Okeowo, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, BudgIT Foundation, said though INEC seems to have done its homework with the continuous online registration process for PVC and the fact that completion process which involves biometric data is completed physically. 

The BudgIT boss reminded young people that they are the most influential stakeholders in the electoral process only if they will value their vote and be strategic. 

“Know the value of your vote!”, he advised young Nigerians.

However, he said with advancement in technology it’s high time the nation engaged the use of technology for the collation of election results.

Gabriel also advised INEC to eradicate challenges that disenfranchise eligible voters from exercising their civic rights, most especially issues like change in location, disability, and those in the hospital, “why can’t we have a polling unit in our hospitals,” he asked.

Mary Ikoku, the communications strategist, expressed her excitement for young Nigerians who recently turned 18 who now have the opportunity to be registered. 

“This will certainly result in a major leap in the number of registered voters, and hopefully increase political participation amongst young people,” she said.

In Mary’s advice to the youths, “focus on the real issues, be intentional and very strategic about your involvement in politics”, even as she encouraged them to see the older politicians as allies and not enemies.

She was strong on the need for INEC to enshrine its electoral regulations in the constitution through the lawmakers, as that is the only way to sync its processes with the electoral law.

Curated from the Vanguard Newspaper

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