Mr. Adekunle Osibogun is the Convener, Young Progressive Nigerian Initiative, YPNI.
In this interview, By Dapo Akinrefon the Ijebu Ode-born lawyer recently led some group of youth volunteers on a tour of the eight Local Government Areas in Ogun East Senatorial District of Ogun State to sensitise the people on the need to register to vote and collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, ahead of the 2019 general elections. He says red-tape is largely responsible for the low rate of PVC collection in the South-West states compared to states in the north. Excerpts:
Kindly share the experience you gathered during the recent PVC sensitisation campaign tour of the towns and villages in Ogun East Senatorial District.
We observed that a lot of people are not aware of the important role the PVCs will play during the 2019 general elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has indicated that the PVCs will play a key role in the upcoming election process, and this, I believe, is already being reflected in the allotments of the new Polling Units, PUs. I observed that the regions with the higher PVC collection rates were allotted a higher number of PUs.
Consequently, the South-West region got the third least number of new PUs, behind the North-Central where citizens have been displaced by the herdsmen crisis, the North-East which has been ravaged by the Boko Haram, and the North-West which has been notorious for underage registration and voting.
From your interaction with the people, how will you describe the level of political education of the residents of Ogun State and how is the level of PVC collection in Ogun East Senatorial District?
The residents of Ogun State are highly politically active, which is most evident in the vibrancy of the political campaigns in the state and the level of enlightenment amongst the populace. When it comes to political education, a majority of the populace know their civic rights and duties and are actively involved in the political process.
However, when it comes to the level of PVC collection, especially in Ogun East Senatorial District, it was my observation that the level of PVC collection varied from area to area. I observed that while some locations we surveyed had a high rate of PVC collection, other locations had a very low rate. Also, the densely populated areas reported a lower collection rate than the thinly populated areas. We are also taking steps to set up a special team that will provide guidance for those who have either lost or damaged voter’s cards or intend to transfer their registration to the District.
What do you think is responsible for the low collection in the southern part and higher collection in the northern part?
I haven’t surveyed the northern part of Nigeria to know the reason for the high PVC collection rate there, but I can speak about the low PVC collection rate in the southern part of Nigeria. I will attribute the primary reason for the low PVC collection rates to bureaucracy and red-tape.
We have citizens who wake up as early as 5 am to go and queue at INEC offices, spend the whole day there and may still be unable to pick up their PVCs. Now, that is discouraging. For us to encourage ourselves to pick up our PVCs, which is a civic duty as we all know, it is important that we make the process a lot easier and more seamless. Without a shadow of a doubt, there is a need for more registration machines.
But are you satisfied with the preparation of INEC for 2019?
I’ll give INEC a 50% pass mark for their efforts thus far and their strategy, especially on PVC collection nationwide, but they can do more.INEC can do more especially in the South-west region because the level of PVCs collected in the South-West as a whole compared to the growing population of the South-West is very low. It is therefore urgent that INEC now pays special attention to the registration and collection of PVCs in the South-West to ensure the General Elections in the South-West Region are a true reflection of the hopes and aspirations of the people.
What Is Your Position On The #NotTooYoungToRun Campaign?
I strongly believe there is a need to transit from the old generation of politicians to a younger and more vibrant generation of political leaders, who understand the challenges of Nigerians in the 21st century and who are prepared to proffer lasting solutions, inspire their peers, and work tirelessly towards addressing these challenges.
This, I believe is also the objective of the #NotTooYoungToRun Campaign. Majority of our youths have lost faith in Nigeria because of the growing disconnect between their aspirations and those of our political elites. The discontentment of our youths with the political elite can be better expressed with reference to the surge in the numbers emigrating through our borders in search of a better life.
Any Political Aspiration For Adekunle Osibogun in 2019 General Elections?
I am currently encouraging my peers to actively participate in the 2019 General Elections because it is my desire to see a large contingent of us occupying elective offices in 2019, so we can attempt to rescue our dear country from its current downward spiral.
What is the driving force behind the Adekunke Osibogun Foundation?
The Adekunle Osibogun Foundation is a private foundation that supports and inspires civic engagements and services in local communities, strengthen, promote, and where necessary protect the socio-economic rights of young Nigerians through intervention programmes in areas of education, entrepreneurship, leadership, citizenship awareness, agriculture, and youth empowerment. The origin of the foundation dates back to 2009 when I met with other young patriots in Abuja to set up a platform to encourage and promote a sense of patriotism among Nigerians, which eventually birth the Young Progressive Nigerians Initiative (“YPNI”) for the benefit of our peers and local communities. After the establishment of YPNI, I was motivated to financially support my commitments to promoting patriotism amongst Nigerians and enhancing the quality of life of Nigerians through initiatives that promote national development, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities.