How #EndSARS and Celebrities Will Possibly Influence the 2023 Elections

Vanessa Obioha and Iyke Bede write that the outcome of the #EndSARS protest may be behind the latest campaigns by celebrities to young Nigerians to get their PVCs and vote in the 2023 elections

By tomorrow, Saturday, June 11, a youth-focused music concert organised by the European Union Support to Democratic Governance Programme in Nigeria (EU SDGN), would be held at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos. 

Tagged ‘Youth Vote Count 2.0: Mega Concert’, the concert is leveraging pop culture, music, and celebrity to attract people to carry out their civic duty by registering to vote.  According to the organisers, it will only admit persons who have obtained their PVC or other proof of registration. Given the low turnout of voters in previous elections, the concert is a rally for young and old Nigerians to get their PVCs and make their votes count in the 2023 general elections.

Billed artists like Falz who has over the years used his eccentric musical style to advocate for good governance, took to his Twitter handle to amplify the event. He will be joined by other entertainers who are keen on the emergence of a transformed Nigeria in the upcoming elections. 

Lately, celebrities have been campaigning for young Nigerians particularly to get their PVCs. Their voices are heard on social media platforms and in physical gatherings. The rising clamour is not unconnected to the sad events that have rocked the country in the past few years. From the incessant bloodbath in the northern and southern regions to the notable #EndSARS protest which is inching closer to two years.

Although it started as a protest against police brutality, #EndSARS metamorphosed into a call for good governance and leadership. The outcome of that event was bloody and to date, the finger-pointing game has left so many questions unanswered. 

But all hopes are not lost as celebrities, encouraged by the support and courage of young Nigerians are deploying new strategies to keep that passion for change burning. Increasingly each day, they are harnessing the failed state of the protest, using it as a prop to influence change in the electoral system targeting the younger demographic. So far, this is working. 

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), about 4.5 million Nigerian youths between the ages of 18 and 34 registered for the first time in the continuous voters’ registration (CVR) to collect their permanent voters’ card (PVC) as at May 30. This extrapolated figure accounted for 69.5 per cent of completed registrations for first-time voters. 

It can be deduced that a large number of youths — a mix of millennials and Gen Zs — who showed up at INEC offices and other registration units may have been influenced by posts on social networking sites like Twitter, with a majority of the advocates being celebrities. 

This shows that the campaigns are beginning to gain momentum months ahead of the February slated elections, and as it advances, more and more youths are realising the potential role they have to play in deciding who leads the nation in a manner where their voices can be heard.

Celebrities, also now understand the power they wield and are swift to action through sensitisation. 

For instance, vocalist and reality TV show judge Yinka Davies, and Nollywood actress Ronke Oshodi urged Nigerians to exercise their franchise during the recent PullUp Naija initiative to sensitise youths to come out en masse to register. Another well-known face in Nollywood, actress Toyin Abraham uploaded an Instagram video of her collecting her PVC at Eti-Osa Local Government. In the video, she revealed that there were over a million uncollected PVCs, with thousands of uncompleted ongoing registrations. 

Some celebrities like Peter Okoye of P-Square, however, took a more personal route concerning PVC with a recent tweet.

“I have just instructed my security and my management that no one is allowed to visit my house or my office without showing their PVC! This also includes my management team and entourage! No PVC! No Visits and Travels!… We must get it right this time.” 

With such actions, these celebrities are not only urging their younger fans to be part of the desired change in Nigeria but also inspiring them to think of a future where youth participation in governance will not be up for debate. By going out to vote, they will prove that they are not just noisemakers on social media but are walking the talk.

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