Will More Youth Voters Make a Difference in the 2023 Elections?


With over 93.5 million voters registered for the country’s general election in February/March 2023, the question is whether voter turnout will increase, especially with youth constituting the largest voting population.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced last Wednesday that a total of 93,522,272 voters will vote in the upcoming elections.

While presenting the national register of voters to political parties, the commission’s chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated that of this total figure, 49,054,162 (52.5%) are male and 44,414,846 (47.5%) are female

While the distribution of voters by age group reveals that 17,700,270 (18.94%) are old voters between the ages of 50 and 69, 5,294,748 (5.66%) are senior citizens aged 70 and above, and 37,060,399 (39.65%) are young voters between the ages of 18 and 34.

In terms of voter distribution by occupation, students have the largest category with 26,027,481 (27.8%) of the total vote, followed by farmers and fishermen with 14,742,554 (15.8%) and housewives with 13,006,939 (13.9%).

It’s interesting to note that voter registration data by state shows Lagos state leading with 7,060,195 registered voters, followed by Kano with 5,921,370, Kaduna with 4,335,208, Rivers with 3,537,190, Katsina with 3,516,719, Oyo with 3,276,675, Delta with 3,222,697, Plateau with 2.78 million, Benue with 2.77 million, and Bauchi with 2.74 million.

The commission further revealed data on disability was not collected for previous registration. However, the cumulative figure of 85,362 persons from the recent CVR indicates that there are 21,150 (24.5%) persons with Albinism; 13,387 (15.7%) with physical impediment and 8,103 (9.5%) are blind.

However, this wasn’t the first time Nigeria has had a huge number of voters. Nigeria had a voter population of 84,004,084 in the 2019 general election. But following the cleaning up of the data from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise held between June 2021 – July 2022, 9,518,188 new voters were added to the previous register resulting in the preliminary register of 93,522,272.

Nevertheless, the percentage of voter turnout in the 2019 election stood at 35.66 % with a total of 84 million registered voters and a turnout of 28.6 million.The Northwest had the highest voter turnout in the 2019 elections which was won by Muhammadu Buhari. For instance,  Kano, Kaduna and Katsina states came first, second and third with a voter turnout of 1.96million; 1.71 million and 1,62 million respectively. Lagos came fourth and was the only Southern state among the states with the highest voter turnout with 1.16 million votes. Jigawa, another Northwestern state comes fifth with a total vote of 1.15million.

As usual, the South had the least voter turnout in the 2019 presidential election. Bayelsa topped the list with a vote of 336,000 votes and Abia comes second with 334,000 votes. Ebonyi, Ekiti and Cross River followed.

Commenting on the national register of voters, the Editor, Security Digest, Mr Chidi Omeje,  believed there would be an increase in the level of voter turnout in the forthcoming  election compared to the previous elections due to the  level of consciousness among the youths.

According to him, from the demography released by INEC, you could see that the youth demographic is the biggest chunk of would be voters in this coming election.

He said: “This is traceable to the #EndSARS revolution that actually brought out the fire in the youth. The fire here is that awareness, that consciousness, that understanding that they have to be part of nation building. The surest way to be part of nation building is to be part of the democratic process and that process includes exercising that franchise of voting”.

Omeje stressed that the youth are in their numbers, people who previously were not interested in voting  are also fired up  this time around, adding that a bit of that was seen during the Continuous Voter Registration.

He stated: “I’m very optimistic that out of that 93 million voters that INEC released, we could have up to 50-65 per cent turnout, I have that conviction. But this is predicated on the fact that INEC should be ingenious enough to find ways and means to get people to collect their PVCs. I don’t understand this whole thing, it was hellish for people to register and it is becoming more hellish for people to collect their PVCs, I don’t know why they are always making things difficult for Nigerians this way. I believe that there will be massive voter turnout this year, but INEC should help make that possible by releasing PVCs to the people.

There has been questions about whether with the youth constituting the chunk will lead to an increased voter turnout compared to the  2019 general elections when the  turnout was 35%. To these questions,  the answer is yes; and it is not only about the youth constituting the largest bloc but also the dismal performance of the ruling party. The two facts above are what will drive the turnout and the direction of the outcome.”

At the moment, all fingers are crossed as the country approaches another election cycle.

Source: thisdaylive.com reported by Adedayo Akinwale

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