2023 marks quite a significant year for Nigeria. For most people, it’s not just another election year, but a defining moment in our political culture and history. It’ll be the first presidential election after the #EndSars movement, the protests led by Nigerian youths against the rogue unit of the Nigerian police force. The unity in a cause, and thirst for change displayed by Nigerians in 2020, marked the origin of a fresh awakening and what might eventually become – Nigeria’s “rebirth.”
However, there’s still so much work to be done to achieve maximum participation. Political apathy is not a new phenomenon to the Nigerian electorate, especially for people in the informal sector, where the entertainment industry plays an active role. In the past, campaign season often ushered new endorsements of top, influential candidates by famous entertainers for financial, political, or personal gain. The entertainment industry served as electoral machinery, nothing more.
The involvement of entertainers and celebrities lending their voices during the #EndSars movement signified interest, as well as improvement in general political behavior. This drive for better governance has set the pace for other creatives to play an active part in political activities.
A noteworthy event was the Tafawa Balewa Square election drive.
In partnership with the Young Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement (YIAGA), Falz, Waje, and Mr. Macaroni and a host of other creatives performed at the Youth Vote Count Mega Concert, held from the 6th to 11th of June, 2022. On all five days, INEC officials were available to ease the entire process. The initiative aimed at encouraging eligible members of the electorate to register and update their Permanent Voters Cards in preparation for the forthcoming elections. The event encouraged several young voters to register with the incentive of a free concert, watching their favorite artists and comedians perform.
This is not far-fetched, especially for rapper Falz the Bahd Guy, and comedian Mr. Macaroni, who were actively involved in the #EndSars protests and memorials subsequently. The significance of such efforts geared towards empowering the electorate is to encourage youth participation in politics and reduce the level of voter apathy during the elections.
It is quite commendable to witness such a shift in the political interests of the entertainment industry, as it’ll encourage other creatives to avoid being bystanders, outside of political aspirations.
So far, these efforts have proven to yield results. The Chairman of the Independent electoral commission (INEC) stated that the commission reported about 76.56% of voters as youths aged 18-34 out of the total 9,518,756 voters registered from June 2021- July 2022.
The impact of the entertainment industry’s involvement in electoral participation initiates a domino effect, from inspiring voters’ interests to increasing voters’ participation and creating a foundation for better governance to be achieved. Hopefully, it only gets better from this point.