Does Nigeria's 'generation democracy' want to vote?


Nigeria's first presidential election with a generation of voters who have only known democracy takes place next weekend.

Up until 20 years ago, the country was led by a succession of military rulers or short-lived civilian administrations.

But has a democratic era delivered for young people? Some 18 to 20-year-olds in Lagos and Abeokuta spoke to the BBC:

'Nigerian politics is messed up'

Emmanuel Odumade, artist, 19

When it comes to the elections, I did register to vote. But I won't lie, the registration process was so stressful, and we had to wait for two days to get the card.

If it was up to me, I wouldn't have gone through the process, but people said that I needed to get the card to use it as an ID card.

It's not that I'm not interested in politics but I would just say Nigerian politics is messed up. To me, I just feel like it's not sincere. At the end of the day we all know who's going to win, so what's the use of voting? It's not that your vote really counts.

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Everything is just in a mess, we just need God's intervention.

I am an artist - I discovered that I could draw because I fell in love with a girl at school.

I was trying to impress her and every day I would go to school with a new portrait of her. At the end of the day, she didn't fall in love with me but I still had the talent.

As I get older, I want to be someone who speaks for my people through my art.

'Are we practising democracy?'

Monday Victory, hawker and designer, 19

I didn't register to take part in the election as I'm worried about violence. No-one is talking about it, but there is tension. I don't want to vote because I hate something that might cause a fight.

Are we really practising democracy in Nigeria? I don't know what to say, but I don't think so. If we were practising democracy then there should be rules and regulations that people abide by.

But I don't want military rule. I just want betterment for this country, not all this grab, grab, grab. It should be about showing your talents.

And there are many things that need fixing. For example, for a long time there are places where the roads are bad. And also electricity, like in the place where I'm staying - they should bring light there.

I am a fashion designer but I also help my aunt to sell groundnuts. I've finished school and I hope to study mass communication, but I'm struggling to get into university with the little money that I have.

I am an orphan - my mum died in 2013 of a terrible illness and my dad died in 2005 - so they can't support me.

'We have to make our nation proud'

Nasir Muhammad, gold trader, 19

It's important for me to take part in the election, to help get a good leader for the nation. To know the kind of person we are voting for, that will help us and give us a caring nation.

By not voting you're not helping the nation. We have to come together and make our nation proud and strong.

In this life, education is the key and I would like the government to pay our lecturers more and provide better equipment. There should also be better transportation and roads, good enough for vehicles and for people to walk along.

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I prefer democracy to military rule as we have the right to speak our mind and talk about what's bothering us.

If I was the president, I would make sure that corruption is finished in Nigeria, because people are always shouting "corruption, corruption, corruption".

I help my dad in the gold trading business. It's a good business, which has paid for school fees and food for me and my eight siblings.

I'm now done with my secondary school, and I'd like to go to university to study zoology.

'I want everything to cost less'

Andrew Ogunnorin, furniture maker, 20

I wanted to register to vote to get the ID card but I didn't have the time. We start work at 07.30 and we close at 21:00 and I couldn't say to the boss that I wanted to go.

But even if I had registered I wouldn't vote. There might be a fight afterwards and I don't want a fight. They'd be shooting guns, taking out cutlasses and I don't like that.

I don't know anything about the people in charge, but I don't think the president does any work. Look at how much things cost.

At one time if I wanted to buy a cup of rice it was 40 naira ($0.11; £0.09) - now it's 80 naira. The money that used to buy two cups, now buys one cup. What has the president been doing?

I want everything to cost less like before. As an apprentice furniture maker I get 1,100 naira ($3; £2.30) a week.

Also, there is no regular electricity. Since morning we haven't had power and nothing is working.

I'd like to continue my schooling and learn technical engineering, but I don't have the money. My dad is a fisherman and my mum is a trader and they can't pay to support me.

'The leaders don't listen'

Favour Ifadah, student, 20

I actually wanted to vote at first and went to register. But at the registration centre we had to spend hours waiting, waiting, waiting, and then we heard that the person responsible had not turned up.

We were told to come another day and I got annoyed as I have a lot of things to do. I ended up abandoning efforts to get a voter's card.

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When I think about our leaders, I'm not saying they're bad, but one thing I've noticed is that they don't really listen to what the people have to say.

These are the people that they are leading and they should be concerned about our affairs. There's been no water in my house for months, but who are we going to tell?

The most popular definition of democracy is "the government of the people, for the people and by the people". But when we give this definition, it's obvious that even the government doesn't follow it.

It is supposed to be "the government of the people", but who are the people? The people are suffering.

I love democracy since it has to do with the people. It's about "we", it's not about the military imposing things on people saying: "You do this, you do this".

'Corruption is very, very bad'

Adijat Balogun, laundry worker, 19

I didn't register to vote. I wanted to but I was so busy with work that I couldn't make the time. I want to join the air force and at the moment I'm just focusing on that application.

All I want is for this country to be better. I'm a bit scared of the election and in the past I have heard that there have been killings.

I don't really know about politics. I do think it's important to be involved but I'm just not ready yet. There are a lot of things to change. Corruption is very, very bad and there's poverty and hunger, and we want better jobs. But I don't know how to solve these things.

I started as a laundry girl last year after finishing secondary school. I don't do the washing, my job is to collect the dirty clothes and deliver the clean ones.

I make 15,000 naira ($41; £32) a month. It's not enough, but I have to keep on going.

I'd like to join the air force because I want to be proud of myself. I love the uniform and there is respect. I pray to God that it works out.

'We need more and better jobs'

Caleb Obiefunwa, cloth seller, 18

I didn't go and register to vote. I'm not interested in politics. For me it's all about the business and making money. Now I need money to build my business, that's it.

I hear about the election and I hear about the voting but at the end of the day it has already been decided who will win.

This country needs more and better jobs. There are so many graduates without work and something should be done for them.

I don't know anything about the time of military rule. I don't believe in history, I believe in tomorrow.

At the moment, I'm an apprentice, but after six years my boss will set me up with my own shop. What I earn is enough for me.

I hope that in 10 years' time, by God's grace, I will have what I need. I would like to be able to help the younger ones, if there is any way I can help I will do it.

'No country is without problems'

Aribide Abiodun, cloth dyer, 19

I registered to vote and the process was good, everything went smoothly, and I'm going to vote.

People talk about the problems but I think the economy of Nigeria is good. There is no country that hasn't had problems. I went to Cotonou in Benin last week and I saw over there that they have issues. And I can see on my phone that there is a problem in Togo.

So all we need is to be praying for the economy to be better and everything's going to be good.

I think the president has been trying to get rid of the bad things in Nigeria. For example, the anti-corruption people are getting back stolen money.

My cloth dyeing business is going fine and I make about 10,000 naira ($28; £21) a week. I was born into this and have been working here since primary school.

When someone is working they are not going to suffer. In Nigeria, some of the youths don't want to work, and because they don't want to work, they get involved in things like internet fraud.

The only thing is to work and move closer to God.

Pictures by Grace Ekpu, BBC

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