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Promoting Good Governance.

There may be low youth-voter turnout in 2019 general elections — study finds

A NEW study has predicted a low youth-voters turnout in the the 2019 general elections slated for Saturday 16th February and Saturday 2nd March.

Titled ‘Role of Youth-led Organisations in Peaceful Elections and Political Participation of Young People’, the study was conducted as part of the UNESCO Youth Civic Engagement Initiative.

It was implemented in Lagos State by One African Child Foundation for Learning, in Oyo and Osun States by Building Nations Initiative (BNI), and in Kwara and Ekiti States by Women and Youth Development Foundation (WOYODEV).

A total of 789 respondents participated in the survey, and they identified 166 youth-led organisations to be actively involved in the promoting peaceful elections and political participation among young people. The study targeted young people between the ages of 18 and 45 who are members, staff, volunteers, or beneficiaries of programmes organised by youth-led organisations.

Among the organisations identified by respondents include: Junior Chambers International JCI, AISEC, All Nigeria United Nations Students’ Association ANUNSA, YALI Network, and Youth Aid Development Foundation.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reported that young people constitute the majority of the registered voters, hence are key determinant of the winners of 2019 elections.

Based on age distribution, young people between the ages of 18 and 35 years constitute the highest number of registered voters with 51.11 per cent, which is 42.9 million voters of our 84 million registered voters. Also, 26.57 per cent of the registered voters are students.

The UNESCO-funded study of political participation levels among young people, however, revealed a progressive decline in the level of participation of respondents.

While majority (71.1 per cent) of the respondents had participated in one civic education/politics-based event put in place by one youth organisation or the other, the sensitisation from such programmes have been observed not to translate to total implementation with respect to variables of political participation measured. For instance, while over half (68.8 per cent) of the study respondents reported having permanent voters cards, a lower proportion (51.4 per cent) reported ever going to vote during elections.

The study also showed that for every three male young persons who are politically active, only one female is politically active in the states reviewed.

In the order of most challenging to least challenging, respondents listed the belief that elections can never be fair, mistrust for political leaders, lack of proximity to polling unit where a young person registered, and ASUU strike as challenges to young voters’ turnout in the forthcoming elections.

According to findings, 31.2 per cent of the respondents who do not possess a voters card were unable to participate in the registration exercise owing to time constraints and busy schedules as career professionals or students. Technical challenges on the part of INEC staff, disorderliness, long queue, and distance to PVC registration centres were also identified as reasons for not participating in the voter registration exercise.

On the perception of young people to peaceful elections, a greater proportion of respondents in the study had a positive disposition towards peaceful elections and the prevention of electoral violence. However, about 17 per cent of respondents still favoured the idea of god-fatherism in elections in the county, which previous studies have reported as one of the causes of violence in some parts of Nigeria.

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