We are excited to announce the collaboration between the brilliant minds at Abuja Global Shapers and ACE Centre on the WeVote initiative, to promote non-partisan voter awareness, education and participation. Together we will be impacting the residents of Abuja through PVC drives, joint advocacies, carefully curated conversations on voting, as well as voter awareness communications via social, traditional and online media platforms.
WeVote was designed to be decentralized and to leverage collaborations as much as possible. AGS x WeVote, as we have branded it, is a typical example of this. We are confident that this collaboration will further our key objective of achieving 66% voter turnout in Nigerian elections.
Below is a transcription of the remarks delivered by WeVote Convener, Obinna Osisiogu, at the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony on July 29, 2021.
My name is Obinna Osisiogu and I am the Executive Director of Advocacy for Civic Engagement Centre, popularly known as ACE Centre, I am also the convener of WeVote, where we are working to change the voting culture, not just for the underserved and poor in our rural communities, but for the upwardly mobile and the middle class of Nigeria, who have in the past displayed nonchalance to voting and in many cases, matters of politics.
Today is an important day for us at WeVote, for the residents of Abuja, and indeed for the rest of Nigeria. This is so, because today, we are formalizing our collaboration with the brilliant minds at Abuja Global Shapers to promote non-partisan voter awareness and education in the city of Abuja.
Voter turnout has been on a steady decline since 2003. Despite a population of 200 million people and a voting age population of 106.4 million, only 28 million people voted in the 2019 general elections. This means that about 76.4 million Nigerians did not vote at the last general elections. It also means that our current leaders at the federal level were elected by a meagre 14% of the Nigerian population.
Bringing it home and closer to us, the recently concluded Lagos State local government elections witnessed low voter turnout, so low that election riggers had a field day of electoral malpractices as witnessed in the viral video of a woman thumbprinting several ballot papers.
It is true that apathy in Nigeria is a product of a distrust of the electoral system (rightly so) as well as decades of subpar service delivery by public office holders. However, boycotting the process is not the solution, because, when we stay away, we yield our power to charlatans and to the worst elements of our society. We give them the power to decide our fate because, whether or not we show up, elections will happen.
So, to begin to achieve the promise of our democracy, we cannot relent. Rather, now is the time to double down. Now is the time for increased civic consciousness. For the Nigerians who can afford to resist the lure of cups of rice and cartons of indomie in exchange for their future, now is the time to step up and lead the less fortunate in our society to do better.
But for this to happen, we must first get our PVCs and then we must educate ourselves thoroughly about the voting process, and then we must collectively get out and vote when the time comes.
The WeVote initiative was designed to be decentralized and leverage collaborations as much as possible. AGS x WeVote, as we’ve branded it, is a typical example of this collaboration.
We are excited to be working with the Abuja Global Shaper hub, a community of the World Economic Forum, in promoting voter education and meaningful participation. Together we will be impacting the residents of Abuja through PVC drives, carefully curated conversations on voting, voter awareness communications via social media and traditional and online media platforms, and of course through joint advocacies.
It is hoped that this collaboration will further our key objective of achieving 66% voter turnout in Nigerian elections at all levels.