Nigeria’s Youthful Voters Seek an Alternative in Upcoming Presidential Election
Amanda Iheme, a 30-year-old clinical psychologist and first-time voter, has made up her mind on who to vote for in Nigeria’s upcoming presidential election.
Unlike many of her peers, who have often sat out elections due to distrust of the political establishment, Amanda is determined to cast her ballot this time around, News About Nigeria reports.
However, she will not be choosing between the two traditional parties but is instead backing a third candidate who has been able to connect with younger voters looking for an alternative.
Peter Obi, a 61-year-old former governor of southeastern Anambra state, has positioned himself as an insurgent candidate in the election, promising to break away from Nigeria’s gerontocratic past. His active social media campaign and promises of job creation, skills training, and funding for young Nigerians have endeared him to many of the country’s youthful voters.
Obi has also been able to tap into the frustrations felt by many Nigerians, including erratic power supplies, high inflation, bad roads, police harassment, corruption, and widespread insecurity. His direct communication with voters on Twitter and Instagram, channels his older rivals have ignored, has further endeared him to the younger generation.
The former banker has been ahead of his rivals in at least four polls, and his supporters have even coined a name for themselves, the “Obi-dients.” However, Obi’s candidacy is not without challenges. As a former running mate to Atiku Abubakar in 2019, he is hardly an outsider. Additionally, his backers were among the prominent voices in the 2020 protests that ended with security forces opening fire on unarmed demonstrators, which could work against him.
Nevertheless, for many young Nigerians like Amanda Iheme, the upcoming election represents a chance to choose a different path for the country. The electoral commission has added over 9.5 million new names to the voter register, with three-quarters of them below the age of 35. Anap Foundation, a Nigerian civil society group, found that 82% of under-35s polled said they would definitely vote this year.
If Obi loses the election, supporters like Emmanuel Ndukwe fear a continuation of the country’s “brain drain,” as skilled Nigerians seek better opportunities abroad. This demographic shift could have long-lasting implications for the country’s economic and political stability. The upcoming presidential election presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria’s youthful voters to exercise their democratic rights and shape the future of their country.