By Nafiu Toyin Abdulqadri.
A Kwara-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI) Thursday launched a project targets at using digital systems to increase voter participation and address the issue of apathy in Nigeria’s electoral process.
At the unveiling of the initiative in Ilorin, the Executive Director of BBYDI, Abideen Olasupo who addressed a group of Journalists, said the intervention of his organisation will seek “to increase voters’ participation in electoral process in Nigeria, as part of efforts to deepen democracy and enthrone good governance in the country.”
Flagged by other executive members of the organisation, Abideen said BBYDI is conscious of the fact that democracy thrives on the principle of popular participation, hence the decision to initiate a project that will curb electoral apathy resulting from “electoral violence, political thuggery and rigging,” all of which he said had affected the will of the citizens to actively participate in the electoral process.
“… Elections are what determine the quality of leadership a country has. Growing political apathy harms the development of the country. This is one of the reasons why we have decided to launch YVoteNaija,” Abideen said.
Continuing, he added, “YVoteNaija is a project using data and digital systems to increase voter participation in elections and create a culture of participatory democracy. We set out to educate Nigerians on the need to actively participate in the electoral process. We shall also be advocating for free, fair and peaceful elections. The process of electing public officials must be transparent and citizens must exercise their franchise without fear.
“This project will also address issues such as voter education, electoral violence, getting voters card and making the electoral laws accessible to more citizens. As the 2023 elections approach us, our mission is to play an active role in increasing participation in elections, especially among young people. We will be working with various stakeholders including INEC, community-based organizations, religious institutions, youth led and women groups as well as the media to make this project a success. We will also fashion out ways to erase barriers to greater political participation. It is important we increase people’s participation in the electoral process and make it more meaningful.
“As INEC plans to resume its Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in the first quarter of this year, we urge Nigerians of voting age who are yet to register to advantage of this opportunity to get registered and prepare to exercise their franchise when the need arises.
“People must know that numbers matter a lot in elections. There is strength in numbers. We must therefore use our numbers to elect leaders of our choice to ensure the real change and development we want for Nigeria and ourselves. We cannot continue to rant and complain without taking actions. We must take actions to end bad leadership in the country, and that starts with us registering to get our Permanent Voters’ Cards and going out en masse on election days to vote leaders of our choice.”
The conference, which had in attendance other members of BBYDI including Wale Bakare, Abdulhakeem Abdulkareem, Ahmed Murtala Bolton and others, signals the formal unveiling of the project geared towards supporting electoral reforms and participatory democracy in Nigeria.