The Director General, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Ladi Hamalai, has stressed the need for social media influencers to lead the advocacy to address low voters’ turnout, especially among the youths.
She stated this in Abuja at an interface with social media influencers, ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
NILDS is the research and training organ of the National Assembly.
The event tagged: ‘Youth and Voter Mobilization: Addressing Low Turnout of Voters’, attracted social media influencers from various parts of the country.
Professor Hamalai listed the expected outcome of the programme to include: improved youth’s voter turnout that will engender improved good governance within an administration, improved public consultation and involvement in policy-making and law-making process, strengthen social media influence on politics and governance in the country as well as improved participation of youths and other marginalized groups in the governance process of the country.
She said: “Our most important objective is to see that voters are mobilised, especially youths. They form a substantial part of registered voters. We need to see how we can get them interested in voting. Not only because we want them to vote but because we want to improve the quality of democracy. And we want to install good governance in the country.
“If you guide the social media and use it properly, it has tremendous impact on voter turnout, as data from several other countries have shown more intensive use of social media in mobilizing voters has led to actual increase in voters’ turnout”.
Some of the broad topics discussed at the interface are: sustaining youths interests to vote in an election year, money politics and youth political apathy, roles of social media influencers in voter mobilization and modern methods of mobilizing youths to vote in both local and general elections.
While condemning the tedious nature of getting Permanent Voter Card (PVC), participants commended the National Assembly for legalizing smart card reader for accreditation of voters in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, passed recently.
They, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the bill into law once it is transmitted to him.
In the same token, they called for early voting to ensure that those on essential duties on Election Day are given the opportunity to cast their votes, as obtained in neighbouring countries like Ghana, Liberia as well as the United States and other advanced democracies.
They also promised to use their respective platforms to mobilize voters in the forthcoming elections.
One of the participants, Ojugo Onyeluka, commended the Institute for organising the programme, saying it will go a long way in a dressing voter apathy.
Participants also streamed the event live on different social media platforms like: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.