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Nigeria election special: Davido and the youth vote

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 13:00, updated on Friday, 8 March 2019 12:05

Davido accepts the best international act award at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 24, 2018, in Los Angeles. Richard Shotwell/AP/SIPA

Pop mixes with power ahead of Nigeria's 16 February poll

Millionaire pop star Davido‘s high profile in the Nigerian elections shows the crucial power of the youth vote. The singer is using his crowd-pulling appeal to get Nigeria’s youth to the polls. He’s also proving to be PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar’s greatest asset.

  • On Monday he performed live in front of a mammoth crowd at an Atiku rally in Port Harcourt
  • Davido is also headlining a run of free, non-partisan concerts in Enugu, Lagos, Jos and Ilorin to encourage the youth to vote

Davido’s #DefendYourVote tweets have had massive engagement.

  • It is part of a wider democracy push by a non-governmental organisation that has organised concerts to get young people to register to vote. Entry ticket is a biometric voting card known as a PVC.

In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 after his sell-out O2 gig in January, the star explained why he was getting involved in politics:
“There is thing I am doing called defend your vote. You know you vote, you leave and then they mess everything up … After you vote wait there let them count everything and I am not gonna stop until they change.”

Why does it matter?
Most politicians in Nigeria are disconnected from the bulk of voters in next Saturday’s election. But young people could decide the result.

  • Over 60% of Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters are 18-35 years old.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC is 76 years old, his PDP rival Atiku Abukabar is 72.

The PDP’s got Davido. Who have the APC got?
Buhari’s party is also leaning on celebrity, albeit without quite the same star power:

  • from footballers Daniel Amokachi, Peter Rufai and Garba Lawal
  • to musicians Korede Bello, Iyanya and DJ Jimmy Jatt
  • and Nollywood stars Jide Kosoko and Joke Silva.

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka – a loud voice in ousting President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 – decided to back neither mainstream candidate, preferring former central bank deputy governor Kingsley Moghalu. And he had a message for his generation:

  • Nigeria, Soyinka told reporters, “…desperately needs a committed idealist who can build a team around himself or herself and just tell these old fogies to go and take a rest”

Keep your eye on: Even if change is not likely in this election cycle, the lowering of the age bar for being a candidate from 40-35 and the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign has brought fresh blood into the political system.

  • Over 1500 young Nigerians will be contesting elections for Senate and House of Representative positions.
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