The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has predicted that Nigerian youths, with their population, could be the ones to determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
He also said apart from the 68 existing political parties, the commission was processing over 130 fresh applications from associations seeking to be registered as political parties.
He, however, said the country might end up with about 80 to 85 parties, and that if half of them nominated candidates, there might be about 46,000 candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the management of Bayero University, Kano, which is hosting the INEC Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach Initiative, the INEC boss revealed that judging from the figures from the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, coupled with the voting pattern in the 2015 elections, Nigerian youths currently constitute a sizeable percentage of the total population of registered voters. This, he said, could be a game changer in the 2019 polls.
At the programme, which was sponsored by the European Union and the third in the series, Yakubu also noted that in addition to the 70 million existing voters, 11 million voters had been registered since the exercise commenced in April 2017. He said that the exercise would be suspended on August 17.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the INEC chairman was quoted as saying, “From what we are seeing so far (in the ongoing CVR), 2019 is going to be the year of the youth. Quite a large number of those that have registered to vote are youths, meaning the young boys and girls between the ages of 18 and 35. When we did the analysis of the 2015 presidential election results, youths also played a very important role.”
Also, speaking on the forthcoming September 22 governorship election in Osun State, Yakubu stated that the election would feature the highest number of contestants (48) in the history of governorship elections in Nigeria so far, above the 37 in Anambra state and 35 in Ekiti state.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof Mohammed Bello, applauded the INEC boss for his leadership attributes.
The programme was designed to encourage youth participation in the electoral process, the statement noted.