by Ajibola Emmanuel
The second edition of #MyFirstVote show saw in attendance two young first-time voters, Aisha Salaudeen, a journalist, and Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas, a civil servant. They joined Ebuka Obi-Uchendu on the Rubbin’ Minds show on Channels TV to discuss the 2019 elections including what will inform their voting decisions as well as issue of voter apathy. The goal of the project is to strengthen the involvement of young eligible voters by encouraging them to be part of the 2019 elections. The show also highlights possible issues and challenges for new voters willing to partake in the election process – especially how young voters make decisions on their preferred candidates.
Aisha Salaudeen noted that as a first-time voter, she does not have a choice but to vote in the upcoming elections because it’s her democratic right. To her, participating in choosing representatives in governance is an avenue for citizens to exercise the power they have. Not voting according to her passes a vote of confidence on leaders irrespective of their performance. On his part, Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas said having an input in the affairs of the country is very important to him, and this is why he will vote in the forthcoming elections. Quoting from Desmond Tutu, he noted that being neutral in situations of injustice automatically signals support for the perpetrators, but registering to vote means having a voice in the country’s affairs.
These first-time voters identified the importance of voting across all levels of government; especially at the grassroots level and being informed about the activities of the local government. To them, holding politicians accountable and keeping them in-check by asking questions before the elections, and being critical about their manifestos is a step towards electing the right leaders. They pointed out the importance of asking questions around the long-term plans of politicians, including building strong institutions, addressing unemployment, and ensuring an enabling business environment for Nigerians.
They both expressed optimism that the increased level of political awareness and engagement of Nigerians will continue in subsequent years.
The #MyFirstVote campaign asides bringing first-time voters together, has also adopted cartoon illustrations titled ‘My Vote, My Voice’ as a tool to share information on how young people can actively take part in the election process. Curated in 3 major Nigerian languages – Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba, the comic magazine has been distributed across the country at no cost, and can also be Downloaded Here
Other YMonitor projects include Citizens Insight Game, YMonitor Quarterly Show, Grassroots Engagement Series, and Citizens Conversation on Radio. For more information, visit www.ymonitor.org
Follow @Y_Monitor and @TFAAfrica to catch up with latest updates. The official hashtags are #MyFirstVote and #ActiveCitizens.