Following the resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise and in anticipation of the Anambra 2021 Governorship election 2021, Yiaga Africa has relaunched #ThePowerOf18 Project, an initiative designed to mobilize young first-time voters between ages 18 and 25 through intra-group engagement, to register to vote. This project, which is in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and We Are For Children Foundation, began in June with a call for application that invited young people in Anambra State to submit creative ideas on effective voter registration drives targeted at young people. The best 10 applications would each get a small grant of N200,000 to carry out their project ideas. 

The Call saw the submission of hundreds of applications, of which the best 10 were selected on the basis of merit, and in consideration of the Local Government Areas and Senatorial Zones of the applicants in Anambra in order to ensure spread. These best 10 applicants were invited to a Voter Mobilization Lab which was held in Awka, Anambra State on the 7th and 8th of July, 2021 in order to effectively equip the winners with necessary skills to carry out their projects. 

Speaking during the Lab, Mr. Samuel Inimen, Head of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Anambra State said that the biggest challenge facing the commission is the issue of wrong voting. In his words, “as soon as first time voters are taught not just to vote, but to vote right and correctly, many millions of votes will stop being invalidated, and this is relevant for our democracy.” He took the winners through the steps of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise, and the position of the commission on the importance of having more young mobilizers on the voting scene. 

Also present at the Lab was Mr. Nonso Orakwe, the convener of the VoteNotFight Campaign who advised the winners on how to cope in the field and to avoid being partisan. 

“The enemy of Mobilization is partisanship. Do all you can to avoid being partisan. Go about your mobilization as objectively as possible. Advice, convince and persuade, but do not show favouritism to any party,” he said.

On making sacrifices, he advised the winners to be ready to go above and beyond for the sake of carrying out their project. “You will get fulfillment, definitely. You’ll face challenges, but you will have the backing to overcome all,” he concluded. 

One of the winners, Obianuju Uyanne, 24, said the grant would enable her to move around and ‘evangelise’ to her fellow youths on the importance of good governance, and the need for them to participate in electoral processes.

Another participant, Nonso Okechukwu, 22, promised to deploy free data as an incentive to motivate and encourage students to participate in the electoral process.

Programme Manager, Governance and Development at YIAGA Africa, Ibrahim Faruk, expressed confidence that with the project, Anambra State would experience an increase in the number of youths registering, getting their Permanent Voter Cards and voting in the governorship election in November. 

While explaining that the Voter Mobilisation Lab was to build the participants’ capacity to become peer educators and voter mobilisation champions, Faruk urged youths to take the electoral process seriously, stressing that “you have the power to change Nigeria positively.”

These 10 winners have now joined the first cohort of the Get-Out-The-Votes (GOTV) rockstars; a breed of young activists who have been awakened to the necessity of active youth participation. 

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