In Nigeria, only persons above the age of 18 are eligible to vote in an election. Therefore, anyone below 18 is regarded as underaged and consequently ineligible.
However, while explaining and justifying underage voting as characteristic of Nigerian elections over the years and particularly in the 2019 elections, Professor Adekelvin Adegorioye, a Don of Political Science at the University of Cobweb Island (UCI), has described underage voting as a phenomenon which is “not new and certainly not wrong”.
He said this while passing comments on the 2019 elections and the electoral practices.
According to the Don, “underaged voting is expected, is particularly pertinent at this time and should be encouraged”.
“When parents do not register for voter’s card; do not go back to collect their voter’s card or do not go out to vote and only lament that the results have been decided before the election, the wise children go out to vote and save their future. At least, it is also their country and they have the right to decide who make policies that directly or indirectly affect their lives”, he said.
“In another case, a smart parent knows the importance of allowing his/her child to vote. The benefit is huge! Take for instance, where parties offer money or food items, your reward for voting is doubled when your child ( or if you are blessed, children) tags along to vote”.
“I do not see anything bad in it, so far the child knows how to move his/her finger, and can think of where to drop it, he/she is no more a child irrespective of the influences or factors that influenced his/her choice”, he concluded.
Speaking to an underaged voter who is 12 years old and identified as Kamilu Omoloso at PU 010, Ward 01 Ayekooto LGA, Alatakun state, he said “my friends and I came to vote because we want to put food on the table of our family”.
“We have been providing for our family since we were 6. We do all sorts of work. Voting is also a work; so far it puts food on the table. We vote and get paid 5k — an amount we naturally earn only after working for three weeks”, he added.
Another underaged voter who is 14 and identified as Musiliu Ajayi said he came to vote because he cannot open wide his eyes while a stick is being poked in it.
“When my big sisters and brothers wouldn’t come out to vote, I decided to instead. They are busy tweeting and analysing candidate’s strengths and weaknesses on social media but would not come out to vote. I realised that the real strength is on the thumb and paper so I decided to do what they wouldn’t do by coming out to vote”, he said.