Good morning, gentlemen of the press. I welcome you all to this press conference and thank you all for honouring our invitation despite the short notice.
We have invited you here today, to witness the launching of our new project, ‘YVote Naija’. YVote Naija seeks to increase voters’ participation in the electoral process in Nigeria, as part of efforts to deepen democracy and enthrone good governance in the country.
As we all know, democracy is built on the principle of participation where all citizens are expected to play active roles. This defines the art of nation-building where everyone is involved. In a democratic country like Nigeria, one of the metrics of measuring our democratic status is highlighted by regular elections.
Since 1999 when the country returned to democracy, after a long hiatus with military rule, the country has held 6 elections. Some of the low points of these elections have been massive electoral apathy influenced by factors such as electoral violence, political thuggery, rigging, etc.
Nonetheless, 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.
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.