Paradigm Shift: Youth Engagement in the Conduct of the 2015 Elections in Nigeria

This paper focuses on the engagement of youth in the conduct of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, against a backdrop of historical experiences. The article illustrates a paradigm shift in youth engagement with regards to the conduct of elections, discounting the doom youth theory of youth bulge, youth in crisis or lumpen youth culture. Youth engagement in the 2015 elections was more constructive than in prior elections. Within the context of dual motivation theory, the destructive engagement by youth in the prior elections was motivated by the need to change the outcome, whereas their constructive conduct in the 2015 elections was driven by duty to participate in public affairs in Nigeria. The overall change in political attitude of young people, is explained by a growing consciousness of the youth’s potential to act as agents of change. This awareness arises through the aid of social media, coupled with the recent success story of the Arab Spring driven by youth, the inflammable repercussions of previous elections, and the high stakes the 2015 general elections held for Nigerian governance.