I’ve seen several posts on Facebook bemoaning the low turnout of ‘Youths’ in today’s elections even though today’s voter numbers have been unprecedented. While it is easy to ascribe this to nonchalance on the side of the young people and a refusal to get involved in civic process, or as some people snidely put it – they’re on social media instead, making noise. The answers are not as simple as they seem.
The most mobile demographic is the 18-35 years’ group who by reason of getting an education, employment, marriage or simply a sense of adventure, are more unlikely to remain at the same spot in a four-year period – length of time between election cycles, than any other group. This means that it is highly likely that they will not be in the same place they registered for their PVC in the last election, for those older than twenty-two, who should be able to vote for the second time.
Anyone who has tried to transfer PVC from one location to another knows there are no guarantees that the process would work even after writing the required letters and paying the bribes that should grease your way. But we already know nothing works here, if you expect something better, I have a bridge at Cele to sell to you.
Let’s not even talk about how hard it is to register for a PVC in the first place after days of queuing, not everyone has the luxury of taking days off work or school to ensure that they register. Neither does the advanced level of difficulty in collecting the said PVC or the mishaps that can go happen with the process make the process a tiny bit encouraging. One story that cracks me up when I remember, is of all of the cards with the surname “I” being stolen from the collection center. Nigeria has ruined me though, I find the most tragic and ridiculous things hilarious. It is not my fault.
A few minutes ago, I read a post here on Facebook where the person had already done the transfer and saw his new polling unit on the internet, only to have the card reader pull out his former details and reject him when it was his turn to vote. I don’t want to imagine his anger and confusion.
So, while it’s easy to accuse the youths of being vapid and wanted to only engage with social media rather than carry out their civic duties. Let us remember that there are very many youths who are zealous to vote but our failed system and processes continue to hold them back, and by extension, hold us all back.
Regardless of who wins this presidential election, it is beyond imperative that we overhaul our current system and create channels that make it supremely easy for citizens to vote. It is only elections by the way, not war. Let us not continue to disenfranchise our most vibrant demographic.