By Akinsanya Abdulsamad
“Soro Soke” is a Yoruba expression meaning “speak up” or “talk loudly” In addition to its literal meaning, the phrase “soro soke”was also used symbolically to urge the young people to take action during the end-sars protests that took place in October 2020, the participants of these protests and active supporters thereby referred to themselves as the soro soke generation.
The phrase “soro soke” which at first was used to encouraged people, particularly young people, to speak out against policebrutality that resulted in deaths, and most importantly, a call for the federal government to dissolve the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the police unit alleged to have been the primary perpetrators of police brutality, metamorphosed from the former into a demonstration of resolute resistance to police coercion and brutality, a declaration of legitimate hostility as well as a call to an end to bad governance.
These demonstrations gained wide acceptance especially among the youths where several hotspot locations became the center stage for these demonstrations, although the eventualities of events from the epicenter of the demonstrations brought a sad taste to all Nigerians when the Nigerian army used live ammunition to disperse helpless and unarmed demonstrators while sitting on the ground, singing the national anthem, and waving their Nigerian flags at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, this claimed some lives and left many injured.
The aforementioned event through the country into a state of rancor where calls were made as to identify who gave the order to use live ammunitions to disperse peaceful protesters whose only goal was to clamour for a better country with accountablegovernance, stable economy, peace and security of lives and properties among other things
The unprecedented eventuality of the end sars protest seriouslyled to a rallying cry by renowned members of the youthful population enjoining youths alike to brace up and take actions, to adequately participate in the electioneering process by ensuring that they register and obtain their permanent voters card which will be used to exercise their franchise so as to elect trustworthy, effective, and knowledgeable representatives to serve in positions of leadership
Although, it had previously been asserted that Nigeria’s youth showed little to no interest in national politics and the country’s electoral process, the run-up to the 2023 general elections strongly suggests a different narrative, with the youths eager to fully participate in the before, during, and after processes of the election, although social media’s presence, popularity, and influence are the only factors motivating this behavior.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), asserts that the results of the general elections in 2023 would be decided by the ballot box and not by social media due to the massive discussion and conferment of suitability on certain individuals contesting for public offices.
The Commission statedthat, “the continuous voters’ registration (CVR) operation started on the 30th of June 2021, however we have found that the turnout has been relatively low between that time and a few weeks ago”.
The electoral body further criticized the low level of citizen participation in the ongoing continuous voter registration drivestating that about the 20 million permanent voter cards that are languishing in its vault unclaimed.
This bottleneck prompted the Deputy Director of INEC, Mrs. Mary Nkem, to urge Nigerians, especially the youth population, to be actively and adequately involved in the process of electing new leaders who will actually bring about change and advance the nation.
She further emphasized that if the youths of the country would come out en masse to cast their votes; there will no longer be a record of fifteen to twenty percent turnout of voters at the general elections. The above reports leaves the question as to if the youths genuinely intend to “soro soke” and “gbera” or keep lamenting on the ills of the country thereby hoping that change will come without taking necessary actions.
In the same vein, genuine participation and involvement of the youths at the imminent general elections can make a big difference, it now depends on how truly willing the youths intend to change the ills of the country by electing eligible and credible representatives that will effectively tackle the aforementioned ills and proffer long lasting panaceas to the identified problems.
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