A non-governmental organisation, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), has said it was empowering Nigerian youths to enable them to develop applications to proffer solutions to challenges affecting the country’s electoral system.

Mr Abideen Olasupo, executive director, BBYDI, made this known at the grand finale of the Yvote Naija CivicTech Hackathon 2022 an initiative of BBYDI with support from Christian Aid in Abuja, yesterday.

He said hackathon in addition to addressing Nigeria’s major election concerns of vote buying, voter apathy and electoral violence, aimed at exploring civic-tech solutions to improve public participation in the political process.

He said the hackathon also was aimed at bringing together young social innovators and developers between the ages of 18 and 35 to develop ideas, build skills and connect with others .

This ,he said was to work towards a shared goal of strengthening the electoral process and civic participation in governance in Nigeria.

“My diagnosis is that the biggest obstacle to Nigeria’s glory is the lack of courage to change things we can, instead of acting as captains of their fate, Nigerians, under successive governments, have played victims of imposed leadership.

“ As we speak, our democracy is verging on a state of emergency due to sustained disinterest in active politics and political participation.

“The average Nigerian, youth especially, is politically numb. Years of electoral violence, vote buying, and rigging have stoked deep feelings of betrayal and mistrust in governance and election.

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“Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the country has recorded massive voter apathy because of unhealed wounds of electoral malpractices. The trend has fluctuated over two decades, falling to an all-time low in the last general elections which saw only 35.66 per cent turn out (28,614,190 cast votes out of 84,004,084 registered voters) in spite of the excitement that distinguished the 2019 general elections,” he said.

According to Olasupo, within a short time of announcing the CivicTech competition, the group received 30,252 applications from the 36 states of the federation.

He said that the 30,252 entries were reviewed on a rolling basis and 81 ideas were shortlisted and enroled in a virtual fellowship where they had mentorship opportunities from experts for the next round of the selection.

He said that it was from that number of fellows that the top seven solutions who would participate in finals were shortlisted.

He said that the team with the most promising solution will be awarded 2 million naira to execute their proposed solution,the cash prize would be disbursed at every project milestone so that the funds are utilized effectively.

Olasupo added that the first and second runners-up would receive support from NITDA to mentor, incubate and fund their respective solutions.

“To make the game a win-win for all, we are looking at merging the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th positions with the first three if that will bring a stellar result. ‘’