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INEC Chairman To Youths: Vote, Don’t Fight, Your Votes Will Count

Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (left) speaks to a mammoth crowd of youths at the Youth Vote Count 2.0 Mega concert, held yesterday at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. With him on stage were Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini (2nd left), National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, REC, Ogun State, Olaniyi Ijalaye and REC, Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje. PHOTO: TAIWO MAKANJUOLA

By Nathaniel Gana

12th June 2022

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has assured Nigerian youths that their votes in the 2023 General Election will count, even as he encouraged them not to fight.

He gave the assurance yesterday at the Youth Vote Count 2.0 Mega concert, held at the Tafawa Balewa Square(TBS), Lagos. It was organized by the European Union in collaboration with INEC and YIAGA Africa.

The concert, which featured top Nigerian celebrities, was the finale of a weeklong voter registration drive, during which over 5000 youths registered as voters.

Addressing the mammoth crowd of mostly youths, who defied the rain for the concert, Prof. Yakubu said: “your message got to us in Abuja, and that is why we are here today. There are two things you have requested and we have heard you loud and clear.

“One, you want your PVCs. I want to assure you that you will have your PVCs. For the last one week, we registered over 5000 people here. Yesterday, when I saw the crowd that trooped down to register, we said we must change strategy. The strategy is that, instead of everybody trooping down to TBS to register, you will register in 20 centres in the 20 Local Government Areas in Lagos. There will be more machines for you to get registered from next week.”

Commenting on the appeals for an extension of the CVR deadline, the INEC Chairman said; “I know you want to hear from INEC, if we are going to end voter registration on 30th June. We heard you loudly and clearly. You want time until all Nigerians register for PVC. You will hear from INEC very soon on that”.

He added: “You also want to hear from INEC – ‘If we register and vote, will our votes count?’ Your votes will count”.

The INEC Chairman said: “I have two requests that I want to make. When you collect your PVCs, please go and vote. And please, vote; don’t fight.” 

When Prof. Yakubu asked the youths that, if after registering as voters, they would also collect their PVCs and vote. He got a resounding “yes”.

In her goodwill message, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Ambassador, Samuela Isopi, noted that the massive turnout of youths to get registered is a sign of hope for a better future for Nigeria. 

She acknowledged the tremendous progress that INEC had made in the last few years with technological innovations and reforms to make elections more transparent and credible. The Ambassador expressed confidence that all the efforts made by the Commission to reform the electoral system in Nigeria would ensure that the vote of every Nigerian counts. 

She said the EU was committed to supporting Nigeria to reverse the trend of low voter turnout in elections, urging the youths to take advantage of their large numbers, come out, vote on election day and build a better Nigeria. 

Celebrities who performed at the concert were: Tu-Face Idibia, Waje, Omawumi, Toyin Abraham, M.I Abaga, Teniola Apata, Kizz Daniel, Small Doctor, Broda Shaggi, Mr. Macaroni and Real Warri Pikin.

Others include Pasuma Wonder, Skibii, Asake, Bella Shmurda, Joe boy, Mayorkun and Kie-kei. 

On the INEC Chairman’s entourage were; National Commissioner Festus Okoye Esq; Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Ogun States,  Mr Olusegun Agbaje, Barrister Mike Igini, and Mr. Olaniyi Ijalaye. 

Other were the INEC Chairman’s aides; Chief Technical Adviser, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, Special Adviser, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, and Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi; Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Victor Aluko, Director, Planning and Monitoring, Mr. Paul Omokore and some Deputy Directors.