Sick and tired of the rising level of insecurity and various economic challenges in the country, many young Nigerians are determined to collect their voter cards before next month’s presidential election.

These young voters, most of whom were between the ages of 10 and 15 when President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015, are eager to head to the polls for the first time.

“Older politicians hold power because the younger generation refused to stand up, take responsibility and hold the leaders to account. But things will be different in 2023,” said Mary Uzodike, a 19-year-old student at Lagos State Polytechnic.

Using social media as a voice, young Nigerians have identified hard currency, poor infrastructure facilities, poorly working and overpaid legislators, insecurity, unemployment, a collapsing healthcare system and the failure of the leadership as the major issues threatening the future of the average Nigerian youth.

“Social media has given us the democracy we want for a long time, and we are increasingly using those platforms alongside traditional offline advocacy strategies to bring about the change we see,” said Rinu Oduala, founder and project manager. from Connect Hub Nigeria, in a Chatham. House item.

“The youth of Nigeria will have the opportunity to oust a government that we believe has robbed us of our future,” he added.

Although some of the youth agree that resources are scarce, considering a huge population, many believe that poverty and inequality in Nigeria are largely due to poor leadership and misappropriation of resources. There is extreme hunger in the country, with at least 133 million people suffering from multidimensional poverty, according to the National Statistics Office.

“I should be happy, but I am not happy because the current standard of living is not inspiring,” said Blessing Nwosu, a student at the University of Lagos, who is planning to vote for the first time.

Nwosu said she hoped that at least one of the two main political parties would have candidates she found inspiring. “I am casting my vote so I can decide my future.”

At 20 years old, he belongs to the group of those under 35 years of age who make up 84 percent of the almost 10 million new registered voters for the next elections.

Picking up her card in the Eti Osa district of Lagos state, first-time voter Tunde Adeniyi said the culture in her community is to accept cash from political parties rather than elect their preferred candidate. But she is determined to give her opinion this year.

“There is a justified fear that more families will continue to fall into poverty and remain trapped in it if we young people don’t come out to vote or make a big statement,” Adeniyi said.

Also read: Fears for the 2023 general elections

In Africa’s largest economy, voters will elect a new president to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who is barred from running after serving the two terms allowed by the constitution. Governors and members of the Senate and House of Representatives will also be elected.

Turnout in Nigeria’s elections is typically low, but political analysts say the country’s economic woes, including double-digit inflation and rising insecurity, may push more people to vote, especially young people.

“I want to vote for the best leader because we need a good election,” said Uche Ukaegbu, a technology enthusiast. “The standard of living is poor; we don’t earn as much as when the economy is good. The minimum wage is not enough to cover the needs”.

Political observers say the youth-sponsored EndSARS protest in 2020 was a clear indication that if the country’s youth come together, they can change the narrative through the ballot.

For example, data obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that registered voters who are classified as students are among the main groups that will influence the 2023 general elections.

According to INEC, students lead the new registered voters with 2.33 million, while businessmen follow them with 1.21 million.

Although there are 18 candidates vying to replace President Buhari, many view the election as a three-chamber race.

The key candidates are Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Peter Obi of the Labor Party.