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Political affiliations untouched as Nigerian students share expectations

As the forthcoming general election approaches, tertiary institution students have expressed diverse views about the forthcoming democratic process. According to the National Universities Commission (NUC) in a 2021 report, more than 2.1 million population of students are currently studying in Nigerian Universities, an increase in 2017 statistics, where the number was put at 1.7 million undergraduate students and 234 thousand postgraduate students. 

These students forming a large percentage of youths are in high spirits with so many expectations, that the 2023 general election will birth a president who will bring visible developments in major sectors, including education.

The general election scheduled to be held on Saturday, 25 February 2023 will be the 7th presidential election held in the country since Nigeria gained independence in 1960.

Voters Registration statistics

The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise which began on June 28, 2021, came to an end on August 31, 2022. At the end of the exercise, it recorded a total of 10,487,972 fresh registrants out of a total of 31,098,013 applications covering voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), and update of voter information records among other requests. 

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), completed registration stands at a total of 12,298,944 made up of 3,444,378 online registration and 8,854,566 physical registration.

Within Nigeria, however, gathered that INEC registered 6.8 million new voters between June 2021 when it started the continuous voter registration and June 2022. Also, About 4.8 million of the new registrants, representing 69.7 percent, were youths, and the majority of them were students, business persons, and housewives.

18 candidates jostle for top sit

Following the directive of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the political campaign for the Nation’s top seat commenced on the 28th of September, with 18 presidential candidates going head to head to persuade Nigerians to vote for them.

The presidential candidates are Accord Party (AP), Imumolen Christopher; Action Alliance (AA), Al Mustapha Hamza; African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore; African Democratic Congress (ADC), Kachikwu Dumebi; Action Democratic Party (ADP), Sani Yabagi; All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.

Also on the ballot are All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Umeadi Chukwudi; Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Ojei Princess Chichi; Action Peoples Party (APP), Nnadi Osita; Boot Party (BP), Adenuga Oluwafemi; Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso; National Rescue Movement (NRM), Osakwe Johnson; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Abiola Kolawole; Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adebayo Adewole; Young Peoples Party (YPP), Ado-Ibrahim Abdulmalik; and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Dan Nwanyanwu.

2023 election, a game changer 

Students have described the forthcoming general election as a game-changer with so many things at stake. 

Philip Anjorin, a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA), noted that Nigeria is on the brink of change, and the general election would shape the country. 

“The 2023 election is probably going to contend with the 1993 election as the most anticipated because of the events unfolding before our very eyes. For the first time, we’re looking at a situation where more than two candidates are holding equal stakes to Aso Rock without assurance of victory for any of them. 

“Meanwhile, the current administration has left a lot of damage in its wake, so much that whoever becomes the next president will have his hands filled to the brim in security, economy, and education among other cases. This same damage has also greatly influenced the chances of victory for his political party’s presidential candidate.

“The coming election is beyond dicey, but Nigeria is on the brink of change with how the youths are getting informed on voter power. it will shape lots of things and I look forward to the amazing changes assumed,” he said

Ajisafe Ibukun, a student at Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic (AAPOLY), Ogun state, noted that the strong call for good leadership and also citizens’ interest and participation in the forthcoming general election could birth a change in the country’s political sector. 

“ We have seen that the youths and older citizens are very much interested in the 2023 general elections. They are yearning for good leadership and this could birth a real change in the country’s political sector. Considering the political players we have now, the election, and the present political atmosphere, the election can be a game changer “ Ajisafe said

Nweke Chineye from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho (LAUTECH), said that the election would shape the country if the candidate that emerges provides strategies to make Nigeria better.

“The election will shape the country. However, the candidate that emerges will determine if the shape will be haphazardly done or would follow a regular pattern with strategies that will birth a new Nigeria. The election will definitely shape the country according to the will of whoever emerges” she said

Safiu Kehinde from Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH) opined that the 2023 general election would decide the fate of the country and its unity. 

“ From all indications, the 2023 general election is one major decider of this country’s destiny. It’s not going to be any rosy, considering the current state of things. We are currently at a crossroads and everybody is ready for what lies ahead of the 2023 election. It is a decider of this country’s fate and the last redline holding the unity of this country” he said.

This period has brought changes to the political template we used to have in the county, Faith Alofe, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) noted.

“This election period is one of the election times when the dynamics have changed and individuals are getting involved. People are now interested in the electioneering process unlike before. Many people are now interested in what is about to become of this country. We are intentional about choosing the person who will become the president and other sectors of leadership. I believe this particular period is a change in the dynamics of politics that we used to have.” 

Peace Oladipo from Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) noted that the forthcoming general election will have a different tone adding that many Nigerians are now more intentional about the electioneering process.

“Nigerians are becoming serious with the issue of governance. The state the country is currently in has made almost everyone have an interest in those leading the country. The current administration seems to have failed in its primary responsibility which is to protect the lives of humans and properties. The major issue of Insecurity has affected every sector of the state.

“Surely, the forthcoming election is going to be a different one. The Youths are now conscious and this is seen in the rate at which they participated in the Permanent Voters Card Registration. Many Nigerians are now intentional about who they vote for . I believe the result of the 2023 election will be a surprise to many. It will shape the country” Oladipo said.

Akintulubo Precious from Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) opined that the 2023 general election is an opportunity to restructure the country.

” The 2023 general election is another opportunity for us to bring changes to the country and if we fail, we will suffer for a long time. It is a time for us to restructure the country, those people can bring changes. It would surely shape the country, good or bad, depending on our actions at the polls.” She saidg

Toheeb Shittu from Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic(AAPOLY) said the youths are becoming active players in the political scene and hoped the 2023 general election would reshape the country.

 

“Currently, we have 3 popular Nigerian candidates and also millions of Nigerians who are ready to do the needful. The Nigerian youths are getting ready and it’s sending a message to the already existing political giants in the country. The election is another period where we take strategic decisions and I’m glad the youths are becoming active players. Hopefully, it’s going to be one that would rewrite the destiny of the country” 

Muhammed Bello Buhari, from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, said the election might not be different from previous elections but the Electoral Act 2022 would make the election free and fair.

“I view the 2023 elections just like the previous elections that produced the same leaders. I really don’t want to be pessimistic because I’m an optimist. Nigeria’s problems which cut across the education, economic, security sector and many other sectors are simply due to ineffective leadership. Nigeria needs effective leaders committed to the development of Nigeria. But I view the 2023 elections as just another election that would produce the same kind and class of leaders that have been part of our problem since the inception of the 4th republic. 

“Nevertheless, for once, the Electoral Act will be a game changer in the elections per se. Because the manner that elections used to be rigged will really not be effective anymore and now people have that assurance and confidence that votes actually will count” he said.

However, for Lasilo Oromidayo, a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), the coming general election is likely not to have any effect in the country. According to him, the winner of the poll has already been determined.

I must say the 2023 general elections is can never be a game changer reasons being that the Nigerian citizens has foresee and forecast the winner of the election already,  We have 3 major candidate ;Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Of APC, Atiku Abubakar of PDP & Peter Obi of Labour party. I can categorically say that Tinubu will come victorious in the coming elections. As a student we need a game changer who can reset and restructure Nigeria but it’s a shame that it’s the same set of people who have already tasted power or that have held one office or the other.” he said.

Students should get involved

DAMILARE Adenola, National Coordinator, Fund Education Coalition, a Student advocacy group, has encouraged students to get involved in the electioneering process. 

Adenola noted that the 2023 general election would test the advancement of the political process in Nigeria.

“We would be waiting to see if the election will reflect the will of the people. Students have always involved themselves in elections but it appears that in 2023 we are witnessing a doubling of that. However, I think that as we have more students join, their choices will be informed and they won’t succumb to vote buying and other electoral offenses” he said

Speaking on how students can get involved, he said “Students should volunteer to campaign candidates of their choice. I mean candidates whose ideas reflect their yearnings. Students should not work for candidates who would come in and shut schools and enact policies that would affect the citizenry”