By Toyosi Afolorunsho
The 2023 elections have come to an end, and without a doubt, the youth have sparked a formidable movement in Nigeria toward democratic and moral elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reports that more than half of the newly registered voters are youth between the ages of 18 and 34. 7.2 million of the 9.4 million newly registered voters are young individuals. A large number of young people came out to vote for the first time in a need to foster development.
A 19-year-old Nigerian, Shokunbi Anuoluwapo, eager to take part in the election, described Nigeria’s election as a generational affair. He said, “Election in Nigeria is treated like a hereditary thing, where the current leaders will not want to leave the post while preferring to nominate a successor they can control, and when they are in office, they appoint family members instead of competent and effective individuals so they can achieve their selfish goals.”
The discontent with the current state of affairs, particularly in the recent past, was a major driver of the youth’s involvement in the elections. Nigeria’s youth have had to endure an array of particular concerns, from difficult financial realities to the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ (ASUU) eight-month strike in 2022, which caused great angst, particularly the anger over mass executions by military personnel and the government’s general handling of the #EndSARS protests in 2020.
Olumide Tewogbola, who recently completed his youth service, claimed that his hunger for change in Nigeria motivated him to actively participated in the election. However, he stated that INEC had failed him and the entirety of Nigeria’s youth, noting that “INEC did not fulfill their promises; INEC officials came so late, which discouraged a lot of people, and they went back home.”
The use of social media by the youth as a tool during the 2023 elections was pivotal in creating political consciousness. Social media has been successful in mobilising support and enticing young people to vote through internet campaigns and communications with the use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
The status quo is no longer acceptable as we hopefully look to Nigeria’s future. Nigerian youth who are courageous, moral, ethical, bold, brazen, and credible have become a potent force against systemic corruption in Nigeria, and with this force comes a new period in Nigerian politics where only legitimate politicians, elections, and electoral integrity triumph.
Adegboye Adeyemi, a graduate of the University of Ilorin, expressed his thoughts on how the work and hard work of the youth speak louder than words. When asked if he believes there can really be a change in the near future, He said, “The recent election showed massive and unexpected participation from the youth. Our concentrated passion for change has brought about so much tension that, moving on, the youth have canceled the popular saying in Nigeria: Vote does not count.”
It is crucial to acknowledge the momentous mark made by the Nigerian youth who came out against corruption and demanded an ethical electoral process as court disputes about who actually won the election continues.
They came out with full force despite the challenges, signaling a change for the better in Nigeria, unlike anything we’ve witnessed in the previous years. It’s time to commend the youth for their steadfast efforts to make Nigeria a better place for all.