Vanessa Obioha and Iyke Bede write that the outcome of the #EndSARS protest could be behind recent celebrity campaigns for young Nigerians to get their PVCs and vote in the 2023 election
Tomorrow, Saturday 11 June, a music concert for young people organized by the European Union’s Democratic Governance Support Program (EU SDGN) will be held at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos.
The concert, titled Youth Vote Count 2.0: Mega Concert, uses pop culture, music and celebrities to get people to do their civic duty by registering to vote. According to the organizers, only people who have received their PVC or other proof of registration will be admitted. Given the low turnout in previous elections, the concert is a rally for Nigerians young and old to get their PVCs and get their votes counted in the 2023 general election.
Hip artists like Falz, who has championed good governance over the years with his eccentric musical style, used his Twitter account to boost the event. He will be joined by other entertainers who are keen on the emergence of a changed Nigeria in the upcoming elections.
Recently, celebrities have been campaigning for young Nigerians in particular to get their PVCs. Their voices will be heard on social media platforms and at physical gatherings. The mounting noise is not unrelated to the sad events that have rocked the country in recent years. From the relentless bloodbath in the northern and southern regions to the remarkable #EndSARS protest heading into two years.
Although it started as a protest against police brutality, #EndSARS has morphed into a call for good governance and leadership. The outcome of that event was gory and to this day the blame game has left so many unanswered.
But all hopes are not lost as celebrities, emboldened by the support and courage of young Nigerians, are adopting new strategies to keep this passion for change burning. Every day they increasingly take advantage of the failed state of protest and use it as a prop to influence changes in the electoral system that target the younger demographic. So far this works.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), about 4.5 million Nigerian youth between the ages of 18 and 34 registered for the first time in Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to obtain their Permanent Voter Card (PVC) on May 30 This extrapolated number accounted for 69.5 percent of completed registrations for first-time voters.
From this it can be deduced that a large number of youth – a mix of Millennials and Gen Zs – who showed up in INEC offices and other registration entities may have been influenced by posts on social networking sites such as Twitter, with the majority of advocates being celebrities were .
This shows that the campaigns are gaining momentum months before the elections scheduled for February, and as time goes on more and more youth are realizing the potential role they have to play in deciding who will lead the nation in a way that allows them to speak out heard.
Celebrities also now understand the power they wield and can act quickly by raising awareness.
For example, singer and reality TV show judge Yinka Davies and Nollywood actress Ronke Oshodi urged Nigerians to exercise their right to vote during the recent PullUp Naija initiative to raise awareness among youth to turn up en masse for registration. Another familiar face in Nollywood, actress Toyin Abraham, uploaded an Instagram video of her picking up her PVC from the Eti-Osa Local Government. In the video, she revealed that there were over a million uncollected PVCs with thousands of uncompleted pending registrations.
However, some celebrities like P-Square’s Peter Okoye took a more personal route on PVC with a recent tweet.
“I have just instructed my security and management that no one is allowed to visit my home or office without showing their PVC! This includes my management team and my entourage! No PVC! No visits and travel! … This time we have to do it right.”
With actions like this, these celebrities not only challenge their younger fans to get involved in the desired change in Nigeria, but also inspire them to think of a future where youth participation in governance is not up for debate. By going to the polls, they will prove that they are not just noisemakers on social media, but that they are walking the talk.