Ahead of the 2019 elections scheduled for 16 February and 2 March, a study predicted low youth turnout. As part of the UNESCO Youth Civic Engagement Initiative, the study entitled “The role of youth-led organizations in peaceful elections and political participation of young people” was carried out.
The study was carried out by the One African Child Learning Foundation in Lagos State, the Building Nations Initiative (BNI) in Oyo and Osun States, and the Women and Youth Development Foundation (WOYODEV) in Kwara and Ekiti States. According to the study, a total of 166 organizations led by young people are actively involved in promoting political participation and peaceful election coordination.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says young people constitute the majority of registered voters, and are major determinants of 2019 election winners, and according to the analysis, there has been a progressive decline in the level of political participation among young people.
The study, however, was able to deduce that while majority of the respondents (71.1 per cent) had participated in one civic education/political-based seminar/event from one youth organisation or the other, the sensitisation from such programmes still remains to translate to full actions with respect to variables of political participation measured.
The study also reveals that while over 80 per cent of the respondents hold the perception of whether their votes will count or not, only about 68 per cent of respondents are currently reported to have a Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and about 50 per cent had previously voted in an election.
It further added that 31.2 per cent of the respondents, who do not possess voter cards, were unable to participate in the voter registration exercise owing to time constraints and busy schedules as career professionals and students. Technical challenges on the part of INEC staff, disorderliness, long queues, and distance to PVC registration centres were also identified as reasons for not participating in the voters’ registration exercise.
On the question of foreseeing peaceful elections, a greater proportion of respondents in the study hold positive perceptions, while a lower percentage held negative perceptions.
This is a pointer to the fact that while perceptions on political participation may change and become more favourable, there may be need to provide very significant cues to action for corresponding behaviour that will result in active political participation of young people.
The revelation of the study thus calls out to youth-led organisations already working around sensitisations for a peaceful election and political participation to intensify their efforts in promoting peace, as the mischievous act of these seemingly few respondents, who still hold a favourable disposition towards election violence, could be far reaching in causing political instability and prevention of peaceful elections.