Explainer: What The Upcoming 2023 General Elections Mean To Young Nigerians

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Naomi Overo & Thelma Ideozu

As Nigeria’s 2023 elections continue to draw closer, more members of society, across all demographics continue to express a never-seen-before interest in the electoral processes. The reason for this renewed participation is not far-fetched – the country is facing the worst economic slump in its history, the problem of insecurity persists and the majority of the population consists of disgruntled Nigerians who have to make do with a constant lack of amenities including bad roads, poor healthcare services, universities on strike and poor power supply tied to the ever faltering national grid. 

The disheartening condition of the country has inevitably resulted in Nigerians looking beyond the feeble promises typical to politicians and seeking out leaders who are interested in actually making a difference. In many camps, the 2023 decision is one that will either turn the nation’s condition around or finally bring it to ruin.

For many young Nigerians who have come of age within the last two general elections, the ride has been pretty rough. Before their very eyes, they have watched the country deteriorate into the worst state it has ever been in, as the devaluation of the Nigerian naira continues to bring the exchange rates to outrageous levels, with 1 dollar nearing 600 naira.


Nigerian youths are thoroughly scrutinizing the political candidates, refusing to be swayed by empty promises. There is an obvious hunger for change and this time, the youths are not backing down. 

What Are The Youths Saying? 

Joseph, 25

These upcoming elections feel like a matter of life and death. I don’t wish to experience this same hardship for another eight years, so I will be voting. I believe the next president must have the ability to make things work for good. He should be transparent, accountable, inclusive, and intentional about providing solutions to humanitarian, health, and social problems that affect every Nigerian. He should understand what Nigerians need at this point – positive change. As a young person, the current administration has affected me negatively! I mean, it’s difficult to feel safe or think straight. What positive thing would one even think about?

Eugene, 27

I doubt that I will vote next year. Even if I wanted to, I still haven’t received my Voters Card even though I applied some time ago. I believe the system is far too rigged for my vote to really count. The list of things that have gone wrong in the past eight years is so long, I don’t even know where to start. As young people, most of us are still recovering from the massacre that took place at the Lekki toll gates in 2020, much less from the outrageous cost of living. Nigeria needs a leader with a conscience and not someone motivated by greed. 

Tobi, 23

Many young people, especially those of us born in the ’90s and 2000s, have actually never experienced a “good” Nigeria. My generation has not been given a fair chance to do anything meaningful in this country. Even when you try to pave a way for yourself or start a business, the country is not set up for you to thrive. I plan to vote next year, but my attention is also on the House of Representative candidates because those are the people that should speak for us. As for Nigeria’s next president, it should be someone with integrity and the discipline to do the right things, like invest in education, the health sector, and so on. Nigerians aren’t even asking for much. 

Eche, 22

I don’t know if I will vote in the upcoming elections. It’s difficult to have hope in Nigeria with all the things happening. All the ASUU strikes affected me, and I have no faith in the government. Security in the country is zero, and you literally cannot point at one thing that works well. In a perfect world, the next president would be someone with an entrepreneurial mindset that doesn’t bring up regulations and taxes that frustrate small businesses, virtual currencies, people’s innovative ideas, foreign investments, etc. They should also be empathetic enough to place themselves in the shoes of everyday Nigerians. It seems the current “leaders” make laws and forget what it is like to be on the receiving end.

 Zii, 29

Personally, I haven’t been able to graduate because ASUU is constantly going on strike. I live in constant fear and anxiety, because of the level of insecurity in this country. The economy is bad, the business terrain is harsh, and money has little to no value. I will definitely be casting my vote in the next elections. A good leader would be someone with a measurable, significant, and proven track record of success in leadership. My ideal candidate would be a young technocrat, free of ethnic or religious bias, and someone with the willpower to go against the deep-rooted systems of corruption.

Kwado, 31

My brother was writing his final exams before the latest strike began. My sister finished secondary school last year and after writing JAMB, we heard that the Federal Institution she applied to will not attend to applicants in her set since there are other sets they have not yet attended to. It doesn’t even make sense. The daily increase in food prices is a source of concern, too. The present administration promised Nigerians so much, but people’s hopes have been dashed. I owe it to myself and my family to vote in the upcoming elections. Hopefully, the next president will be a reliable leader with compassion for his people.


What Are The Implications?

The increased attention to electoral proceedings by the youths is a great place to start, even though for some, it’s more a matter of necessity than interest. 

Although it cannot be denied that there is a hint of the “same old” in the air regarding the upcoming elections, unlike the last two presidential elections, a third force (led by Peter Obi) is back in the fray with enough ambition to potentially shake things up a little. However, it’s worth mentioning that next year is not just about the presidency. Lest we forget, there are 30 state governorship, 109 Senate, 360 House of Representatives, and 900 House of Assembly positions up for grabs, and most of these seats are being targeted by politicians already holding office!

Efforts towards getting PVCs and general sensitization of the public on why every vote counts and why voting for the right candidate matters are also laudable. However, it is important that the participation of youths in politics is encouraged and the gerontocracy under which Nigeria stews is eventually brought to an end. 

When critically examined, there is a limited representation of the youth in politics, with over 80% of leaders in power well above 50 years old. The APC presidential primaries saw a fair number of contestants step down for Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for no better reason than the fact that he’s an “elder.” Age should be no determiner of who gets to lead the country, and hopefully, with the increased interest of the youth, the political recycling of the same set of leaders will finally come to an end. 

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