Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has blamed the declining youths’ participation in political process on the failure of candidates to fulfill campaigns promises, loss of confidence in electoral commission, electoral fraud, cumbersome electoral process, insecurity and violence.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, represented by National Commissioner and chairman Board of Electoral Institute during the first Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture, in Abuja, on Thursday, assured that INEC would continue to improve on the electoral process.
Reacting to the topic of the lecture, “Youth Empowerment and Political Participation in Nigeria” the INEC boss said: “From the records, youth participation in electoral process is declining.”
“Some of the factors that led to this includes non challant attitude of the citizenry, failure of candidates to fulfill electoral promises made during campaigns, loss of confidence in electoral commission, electoral fraud, cumbersome of the electoral process, insecurity and violence.
“All the political parties promised the electorates various empowerment schemes, if the politicians fulfilled their promises, the electorates will have confidence in the system and this may lead to more participation in 2019 General Elections.
“INEC on its part has continued to improve on the electoral process. The Commission has put up mechanism to eliminate manual collation of election results; this can be seen in the amended electoral act.
“Election results will be transmitted real-time online from the Polling Units and once these results are uploaded the computer system will do the collation without need for human intervention.
“This will ensure that people’s votes count. Therefore, elections will be won and loss at the polling units,” he said.
The Acting Director General of the Electoral Institute, Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris, said that the topic “Youth Empowerment and Participation in 2019 General Elections” was carefully chosen because it is very dear to the late DG’s heart and very apt to the build-up of the 2019 General Elections.
“Research indicates that Nigerian youths (18-24 years of age) tend not to vote due to some reasons amongst others: Lack of interest in politics; they do not perceive themselves generally as well prepared to participate in voting.
“They do not understand the voting system. They do not know who to vote for; where to find information about candidates; they do not know the candidates position on issues that are of importance or interest to them.
“Based on the above, there is need to motivate youths to take part and learn about our political and electoral system by assisting them to recognise that they, as citizens of Nigeria with rights and freedoms, have the power to effect change by having their voices heard and more importantly, participating in the electoral process.
“This is because history has shown that one vote can make a difference. One of the functions of INEC is promoting public awareness of electoral matters by conducting civic/voter education and information programmes for members of the public, including youths.
“The Commission has done a lot through the Voter Education and Publicity Department but can still do more in the following areas: Organise programmes on university campuses around the country to raise awareness of registration and voting.
“There is need for young people to know about voter registration, first time voters and those who recently turned 18,” he said.