The National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega has called for some level of internet censorhip within the Nigerian Social Media Platforms.
Prof. Jega made the disclosure Monday in Abuja at the New Media and Governance Conference during a paper presentation, analysing the prospects of New Media in Elections organised by the Yar’adua Center and Enough is Enough Nigeria.
In Prof. Jega’s words. “Practically speaking, we in INEC have received alarms many times in our Situation Room during elections that turned out to be red herrings. Even though we will not stop responding to all alarms, could there be a way to filter communications on the new media platforms and avert possible unsavoury consequences some false alarms?’’.
The head of Nigeria’s electoral umpire further said the 2011 General Elections is the first of its kind in Nigeria driven by the new media.
“In INEC, we had a Situation Room where we used the various new media platforms (and, of course, conventional ones like the telephone) to engage the public. It was a profound experience in real time interaction with the public as we engaged in instant dissemination of information as well as voter education, and responded to emergent complaints by members of the public while the elections were underway. There is no doubt that this helped the transparency of the process and contributed in no small measure to the acclaimed success of the elections’’ Prof. Jega noted.
The INEC helmsman added that the new media provided a vehicle for the unprecedented mobilisation of the emergent generation of youths in the political process.
“This was crucial because youths between ages 18 and 35 constituted 62.4% of the 73.5million people registered by INEC during the voter registration exercise conducted early in 2011. There is no doubt that the level of interest shown by the younger generation in the 2011 elections was never before witnessed in Nigeria’s political history. But I believe that the most gratifying dimension of this development is the patriotic zeal demonstrated by the corps of young technophiles who volunteer to man our new media platforms every time we open the Situation Room for an election. They did that during the 2011 General Elections, and they have done so for all the state governorship elections we have conducted this year’’ he added.
The INEC Chairman insists new media enhances the transparency of the political process and has made INEC more accountable to the public in its conduct of elections as well as the strengthening of INEC’s power of oversight on the electoral process by empowering the public to alert the Commission of incidents requiring swift security intervention.
Speaking Earlier, the Executive Director, Enough is Enough Nigeria ‘Yemi Adamolekun opine that the New Media and Governance Conference which is first of its kind in Africa was neccessary concerning the role young Nigerians played online during the 2011 elections.
“In 2011, new media played an unprecedented role in various countries on the continent including Nigeria’s General Elections in April’’.
Ms. Adamolekun noted that organizations like Enough is Enough Nigeria, ReclaimNaija, WangoNet and IamLagos established platforms to mobilize Nigerians to register, vote and enable citizens to report election-related incidences with pictures, videos, text messages and voicemail. At the same time, traditional media houses such as Channels Television, 234Next and Punch newspaper used new media to disseminate information and gather feedback from viewers.
The new media and Governance conference aims to bring together government policy makers, civil society, academic institutions and private sector to explore the use of new media for improved governance, accountability and civic engagement and it is to hold for 2 days, from May 14 2012 to 15th.