• National Endowment for Democracy President/CEO Damon Wilson is currently in Nigeria.
  • Wilson was invited for a fireside chat with civil society leaders and community organizers on his first visit to Nigeria.
  • The fireside chat gave her the opportunity to network with pro-democracy activists and partners in Abuja.

FCT, Abuja – Damon Wilson, President and CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), says the large number of young voters registered in Nigeria ahead of the upcoming general election is remarkable.

Wilson made the comment while chatting with a legit.ng reporter and other journalists on the sidelines of a meeting he held with pro-democracy activists, civil society leaders and other partners in Abuja on Wednesday, January 18.

Wilson interacting with civil society leaders before his interview with journalists. Photo credit: @YIAGA
Source: Twitter

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had previously announced that 48 million of the 93.5 million eligible voters in the upcoming elections are young.

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An excited Wilson visiting Nigeria for the first time said:

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“Just from the conversations we’re having, we see a higher level of engagement, a higher level of interest, the fact that we’re less than 40 days away and most Nigerians don’t know who’s going to win and they don’t know. know if there will be a second round.

“We have seen an increase in young registered voters. I think that in the last six months INEC said that 70 percent of those registered were in the youth category. It’s quite dramatic, remarkable.

“So what I have learned time and time again is that even when democracies are imperfect, elections become an opportunity for people to organize and express themselves, and I have seen surprises time and time again and I don’t know what’s next. to pass. .

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“It’s a beautiful thing for Nigeria, the largest democracy in Africa, to go to an election and not know what’s going to happen. That is democracy in action. It’s exciting and we’re going to see this.”

However, he expressed concern about the prolonged insecurity situation in Nigeria, especially as the elections approached.

His words:

“Two things are happening; One is the general security situation that has been difficult in the country, whether due to insurgency or terrorism or simply banditry, kidnapping, other sources of instability that you know very well.

“The truth is that 10,000 Nigerians have died in recent years from security incidents, that’s extraordinarily high, and it creates a difficult environment where people feel safe enough to vote.

“I was briefed on the election-related violence, which is much less the attack on the INEC offices, so what was really interesting about the briefings we saw was that Nigerians are organizing to be able to track this down to document it. , to report it.

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“I also see a lot of Nigerians focused on this issue of how they can provide a greater sense of security, how they can be better prepared, how they can anticipate where there are problems.

“So ultimately this is going to be an issue for this election, but I’m hopeful it’s not such a disruptive issue, with that being said, anyone should feel safe to cast their vote.

“That is a sacrosanct act in any democracy and clearly an area where we hear Nigerians want their government to work harder.”

Speaking earlier, Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, noted that NED has given great support to most of the projects the organization carries out in the country.

He said the meeting was arranged for Wilson to have rich conversations with civil society leaders about the 2023 elections, political inclusion and the progress Nigeria has made since its return to democracy in 1999.

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2023: UN and ECOWAS warn Nigeria against electoral violence

In a related development, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday, January 17, warned Nigeria against violence in this year’s general elections.

They gave the warning in Jos, Plateau State, in an interactive engagement and mediation training with some stakeholders.

International organizations also stated that Nigeria cannot afford any crisis because it would affect the West African region as well.

INEC says 2023 general election will take place as scheduled

For its part, INEC has assured Nigerians that the 2023 general election will take place as scheduled, regardless of the level of security threats.

The INEC commissioner and president of the voter information and education committee, Festus Okoye, made it known recently.

Okoye was reacting to the continuous attacks on INEC facilities in different parts of the country.

Source: Legit.ng