I Won’t Be Voting In The 2019 Elections, And It’s My Screw-up

October 10, 2018

So I didn’t register to vote.

Come February 2019, the elections will be here again, and for the third time since I became eligible, I’ll be on the sidelines.

Considering how much noise was made about registration in the months before the deadline, I feel like trash. I know there are a lot of us out there.

The good old question remains; how do you get young people to vote? Everybody wants to be 18 so they can cross many things off their bucket lists – but voting is hardly ever one of them.

Young people have an attitude to voting that sits somewhere between ‘Wetin concern me’ and ‘Call me when they start sharing dollars’.

Keep in mind ‘young’ here means persons between the ages of 18 – 25 –definitely not Dalung.

It’s not hard to see why the actor dies in this movie.

Voter Turnout in Nigeria

Voter turnout in Nigeria has consistently dropped over the last three elections.

It’s almost the same case with SUG elections. Good luck remembering the days when student unions could shake the country.

Now the average student is like my colleague Eniola, who described her feelings for campus politics with this short expose –”I didn’t give a shit. It didn’t matter.”

None of this makes me happy. So in an effort to nip the problem at the bud, I’ve looked back at my attitude to elections over the years.

 

I don’t like what I found.

Election season usually starts like this:

Segun to the world: “Guy. Dem don dey ring bell for this guy. INEC says election na February next year.”

World to Segun: *crickets x 3*

In Nigeria, elections start when posters go up. It’s in the Bible. Unfortunately, my brain becomes shy when it’s time to remember this.

Because rules are made to be broken.

INEC’s electoral calendar says campaigns are not allowed until roughly three months to the elections. But I can swear nobody follows these rules.

Imagine coming home nearly a year to the election and having to confirm your house address because posters have turned the entire street into a collage. That’s how I feel every four years.

Between that and the Atiku trends on Twitter, there’s no other way to know elections are here.

 

“GET YOUR PVC yen yen yen”

I really wanted to register to vote ahead of 2019. I talked to people and planned my weeks around it.

Except something always came up. A football match, a new album, food, sleep. Over the years, I’ve found that my scepticism has gotten the better of me.

If you say it’s a case of wondering if my vote would really count, you’ll be right.

“But me I go talk, me I go speak my mind” – Eldee the Don

Not having a voter’s card has never stopped me from talking about governance around election time though.

What I’ve noticed is that people like me have these conversations for different reasons–to compare opinions, to hide mouth odour, or to just appear smart.

Not everyone’s really interested at this point and it shows.

 

“Can you people shift for me? I want to tweet.”

You know when they offer you rice at a friend’s house and your self-respect says no, then you smell it and your priorities somersault?

Few months to the elections, after Olamide makes the first election jingle, the buzz builds to the point where FOMO sets in and everyone becomes a pundit.

Maybe it comes from worrying that people are doing something way more fun than you are. Or that they’re selling us at dozen price in one Whatsapp group. Either way, the noise gets louder with each election year.

 

But will you vote?

Unfortunately, all the hot takes never really convince us to do the deed-voting.

To be fair, there are reasons – like the fear factor.

No one wants a situation where one moment you’re exercising your civic duty, the next minute you’re channelling Usain Bolt and wondering if you’ll ever see your slippers again.

Fun fact: I’m one of these people.

So we stay at home–but when results are announced, the country sings the same old song.

“Dem don rig am”

Soldier go. Soldier come. Barracks still dey.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that elections go as fast as they come.

And because nearly 1 in every 2 Nigerians lives in abject poverty, earning a living or working towards one matters more than anything else.

It’s all good to care about your country’s politics but in the end, survival is the most abundant Nigerian instinct.

In the immortal words of the urban philosopher,  Victor AD, “if we no get money, wetin we gain.”

 

“Nigeria, Jaga Jaga, everything scatter, scatter,” – Eedris Abdulkareem

If Eedris made this song today, few people could argue with him.

It’s hard not to see elections in Nigeria as a contest of power and influence, and votes as an inevitable distraction.

But accepting this reality as our fate is the reason even Fela’s songs still sound like prophecies.

Losing faith in the process has limited our belief in our ability to change things.

All hope is not lost though.

2015 was a very interesting year – depending on what side of the fence you sat on, young people played a big part in deciding who became Nigeria’s president.

How?

We talked, tweeted, wrote on Facebook, created memes and sent BCs on WhatsApp – all the things we’ve been made to believe don’t matter. And they made a difference.

That’s why we need to sit up and do things differently. Don’t overthink it.

Someone once said the best way to get young people to vote is to throw them a literal party.

It could be that easy or even less expensive, like hosting group conversations on WhatsApp.

 

The basic thing is this – just get involved.

That way, we can start talking about the right candidates and holding office holders accountable.

Will we change everything at once? No.

But I’ve found that talking to the people around me has gotten them more interested in changing things; some of them want to help their favourite candidates with their campaigns, others just can’t wait for election day.

It’s a long way from getting all young people to change their voting habits, but it’s definitely a good place to start.

 

Segun Akande

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 2, 2020

It has finally happened. The devil has seen how much Nigerians have been downloading with office wi-fi and just what they’re downloading (rhymes with corn) and has decided to give us a little testing-testing of hell. But will we let him win? Not today? We’re not too sure how these will hold up, but if […]

January 20, 2020

Residents of Abule Egba had a terrifying start to the week and indeed the year when a fire broke out, the evening of January 19th, 2020. This fire is now responsible for immeasurable damage to property and the loss of a yet to be confirmed number of lives. Before the fire broke out, a Twitter […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

April 12, 2021

You’re having a normal conversation with an anime watcher and they suddenly break into Japanese because they think everyone around them understands. We’ve been there too, so we’ve decided to compile a list of the possible things they’ll say and their meanings. You’re welcome. 1. Nani Nani simply means “What”, but the way anime characters […]

April 12, 2021

As Told To Itohan For a while now, I had been asking people what the most interesting parts about their love life. So, when someone reached out to me and said she fell in love with her Uncle, I wondered if I was reading right. The person in today’s As Told To is *Anna, a […]

April 12, 2021

You probably think you transform to Beyoncé or Celine Dion when those earphones come in and you start singing those lyrics out from your heart, but we are sorry to break it to you that you mostly sound like a squeaking rat. Here is a list of songs you should not sing along to with […]

April 12, 2021

I am genuinely fascinated by relationship dynamics between Nigerians especially when it comes to giving gifts to their partners. So I set out to speak to as many Nigerian men who were willing to speak to me and asked them who the most generous partner they’ve ever had is. And the answers amazed me. Here […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 1, 2020

Everyone has a Nigerian bank that matches their personality. You could either be as likeable as GTB, as efficient as Access or as mature as First Bank. Either way, all you have to do is take this quiz and we’ll let you know with almost 100% certainty. So, go ahead:

What are you like in a relationship?
February 7, 2020

Your taste in music can say a lot about you, and this time, it’s going to reveal what you are like in a relationship. So, pick a few of your favourite Nigerian love songs, and we’ll let you know if you’re typically a distant, passionate or unbothered partner. Here you go:

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

November 4, 2019

After successfully predicting when y’all are getting married (please, email any complaints to noneofourbusiness@nayousabi.com), we are back to tell you how much is currently in your account. How, you might ask? By using your taste in Nollywood, of course. Shhh. No questions. Just take it already:

More from Citizen

April 2, 2021

Today’s subject on Abroad Life started her process to leave Nigeria for the USA for school in 2017 and didn’t leave until two months ago. She talks about how money, COVID and visa problems delayed her travel plans. She also talks about arriving in the USA in the middle of a polar vortex and having […]

March 22, 2021

Victor Emmanuel is a queer Nigerian YouTuber with simple demands: He wants the Nigerian Government to repeal the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA). On March 20, 2021, Victor published a video on Twitter, explaining the reason for his decision. He made it clear that he was going on a hunger strike until the SSMPA […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X