The views expressed in this article are those of this guest author and do not reflect the views of Stears.

I remember the first time I ‘participated’ in Nigeria’s democracy.

The year was 1999, and Nigerians were more optimistic than ever about the return to democracy. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was battling it out with Olu Falae in the national polls, and I was determined to be a part of the New Nigeria.

I escorted my mum to vote on Old Macdonald Road in Lagos—it was safe enough to do so. The INEC official, sensing my excitement, applied the ‘I have voted’ marker on my thumb to the amusement and possible concern of onlookers, who worried about whether I had voted in an election before I even turned ten. Nevertheless, my excitement knew no bounds.

For a moment, in the lead-up to Nigeria’s 2023 elections, I felt like I did