In what may be a confidence booster to the passion exhibited by Nigerian youths to register and participate in the 2023 general election, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has assured the Nigerian youths that every vote will count, even as he encouraged them to vote and not fight.
He gave the assurance during a Youth Vote Count Mega Concert, organized by INEC in collaboration with the European Union and YIAGA Africa, held at the Tafawa Balewa Square(TBS) , Lagos, Yesterday, Saturday 11th June, 2022.
The concert which had A list musical artists such as Tu-Baba, Waje, Omawumi, M.I Abaga, Teni the Entertainer, Kizz Daniel, and a host of other top entertainers on show, was the finale of a week long voter registration drive, which saw over 5000 youths being registered, according to the INEC Chairman.
Addressing the mammoth youth who turned out for the concert in defiance of the rain and sun, Professor Yakubu said “ your message got to us in Abuja, and that is why we are here today. There are two things you have requested and we have heard you loud and clear.”
“One, you want your PVCs, and I want to assure you that you will have your PVCs. For the last one week, we registered over 5000 people here. Yesterday, when I saw the crowd that trooped down to register, we said we must change strategy.”
He continued; “the strategy is that instead of everybody trooping down to TBS to register, you will register in 20 centers in the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos.There will be more machines for you to get registered from next week.”
Commenting on the nationwide appeal for an extension of the deadline for the suspension of the CVR exercise, the INEC Chairman said; “ I know you want to hear from INEC if we are going to end the registration on 30th. We heard you loudly and clearly, you want time until all Nigerians register for PVC. You will hear from INEC very soon on that”.
Speaking further he said “you also want to hear from INEC if we register and vote, will your votes count? Your votes will count”.
Professor Yakubu also requested that the youths commit to collecting their PVCs and voting, and got a resounding YES response from the teaming youths. “ I also have two requests I want to make. When you collect your PVCs, please go and vote. And please, vote not fight.”, he said.
In her goodwill address, the European Union(EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Ambassador, Samuela Isopi, noted that the massive turn out of youths to get registered is a sign of hope for a better future for Nigeria.
She acknowledged the tremendous progress made by INEC in the last few years with technological innovations and reforms to make elections more transparent and more credible. The Ambassador expressed confidence that all the hard work put in by the Commission to reform the electoral process in Nigeria would ensure the votes of every Nigerian count.
She said the EU was committed to supporting Nigeria, reversing the trend of low voter turnout in elections , and encouraged the youths to make sure their votes count and build a better Nigeria.
Other artists who thrilled the youths to good music with a message to get their PVCs and vote include: Falz, Patoranking, Pasuma Wonder, Small Doctor, Skibii, Asake, Bella Shmurda, Joe boy, and Mayorkun.
Also on stage to encourage the youths to make their votes count are Comedians, Skit makers and social media influencers such as; Mr. Macaroni, Broda Shaggy, Toyin Abraham, Real Warri Pikin and Kie-kei.
On the INEC Chairman’s entourage were; National Commissioner, and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye Esq; Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC) for Lagos, Mr Olusegun Agbaje; REC for Akwa Ibom, Barrister Mike Igini;and REC, Ogun, Olaniyi Ijalaye.
Others were the INEC Chairman’s aides; Chief Technical Adviser, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, Special Adviser, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, and Director, Voter Education and Publicity Department, Ayodele Victor Aluko.