Monday, 7 January 2019

Crowdpol set to storm Calabar with I Pledge to Vote Concert

A civic tech startup which helps citizens find, engage and mobilise support in politics and social good with the aim of opening up governance as well as making it inclusive for citizens, known as Crowdpol said it is ready to storm Calabar, Cross River State capital city with her Concert/comedy show tagged I pledge to vote Concert

Disclosing this to newsmen in Calabar, during a press briefing, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Justus Oseuno, said the main target of this civic responsibility awareness campaign are the millenials and as such entertainment, music and comedy would be used to drive home its key messages.

He informed that the event which is billed for Sunday, the 20th of January 2019, at the Dome, Calabar Municipal Council, would feature musicians and comedians from across the state who would perform in the concert, while using it as a medium to propagate the "I Pledge To Vote Campaign".

He said the major objective of the campaign is to record significant increase in voters' turn out, especially among the youths in the forthcoming elections. This way, he argued, the youths will be actively engaged in shaping the democratic space and governance in Nigeria.

My Nyok Efio-Ita, the director of Content and Community also said that the "I Pledge To Vote" campaign which will be culminating in a concert is  which is one of CrowdPol's pilot programmes for 2019, is borne out of high level of political apathy among Nigerians, especially the youths. He however attributed the ugly trend to negative perception the people have on the system, saying the 'I Pledge To Vote' campaign would be seeking to address the issue, by re-engineering the people's mindset.

Speaking earlier, Mr Oseuno had said the 'I Pledge To Vote' campaign would sensitize young people on how to protect their votes, speak up on electoral malpractices and also shun violence during and after the elections, while adding that CrowdPol is a non-partisan organization.

"The 'I Pledge To Vote' campaign is a campaign that will be giving birth to concerts. We believe that music and entertainment in general is one tool that mobilizes people. We want to see an increase in voters turn out.

"The INEC chairman sometime ago said the total number of people that registered last year to vote in the 2019 elections were over 11million, and a greater percentage of these people who have registered to vote are youths. When you look at the 2015 elections, you will discover that the youths were the highest number of people who did not participate in the elections —over 4million.

"We believe that the future belongs to young people. As such, there need to be an engagement between government and the citizens. Large number of the citizenry are youths. So we believe that if we can activate this demography of people to participate in the elections, it can go a long way to influence the outcome of the elections. It can also go a long way to make a statement that young people in Nigeria want to participate in deepening democracy. Base on this conviction, we decided to come up with 'I Pledge To Vote' campaign which we want to flag off with the 'I Pledge To Vote' concert.

"The idea of the concert is to bring together local artists in Cross River State, both musicians and comedians. We will bring them under one roof so they'll be able to bring out young people in the state, because we believe that these musicians have large followership base. And larger population of their followers are young people. When we bring them together in the 'I Pledge To Vote' concert, we will educate them on the importance of getting involved in the democratic process of Nigeria. And also protecting their votes and speak out on election malpractices.

"CrowdPol is a non-partisan platform. We're not there to direct the people which way to vote or where to cast their votes. We know that voting is a civic responsibility. It's a citizen's right, and every citizen has the right to demonstrate that responsibility", Oseuno said.

 "CrowdPol is a digital platform that helps mobilize offline action around ideas that matter most to people. For the purpose of this media briefing, CrowdPol is a civil society organization committed to voters education, sensitization, political awareness and related matters.


"We intend to have 'I Pledge To Vote' in 2019 which is actually one of the premier edition of our programmes because we have observed there's a degree of political apathy among young Nigerian voters, and we decided to address this particular apathy. People are not interested in voting because they don't believe in the system. People who have voters card don't want to exercise their franchise because they don't believe that their votes count. Those who intend to vote are not willing to exercise their franchise without collecting money. This has defeated the purpose of democracy. Vote buying shouldn't be encouraged."

In his remarks, the state coordinator of Nigerian Movement for Positive Change (NMPC), Mr Ikakke Bassey, lauded CrowdPol for envisioning such a novel initiative which he described as a just course. He said that NMPC being an international civil society organization with headquarters in the United Kingdom, has identified with and would partner CrowdPol towards ensuring the success of the campaign. He said 'I Pledge To Vote' would change the narrative of vote buying, stealing of ballot boxes and running away with people's votes. Mr Bassey however enjoined youths from across Nigeria to join the 'I Pledge To Vote' campaign as a way of advancing the Nigerian socio-political space.