#NigeriaDecides2023: How technology is reshaping politics and electoral process in Nigeria
Globally, the deployment of technology in the electoral process has become increasingly prevalent in recent years as the world seeks to facilitate and improve the electoral process towards achieving free, fair and credible election.
Although marred with logistics and material deficiencies, Nigeria’s 2023 elections debuted with the incorporation of new voting systems that utilized digital technology tools such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, to reduce the cases of manual manipulation of figures.
Whether the use of technology can be fully trusted in an electoral process, especially in a multiple-interest country as Nigeria, leaves many worried as detractors raise concerns about the security and reliability of digital voting systems when entrusted to men who may influence it.
As Nigerians return home awaiting the result of the election, Ripples Nigeria evaluates the role of technology in shaping the future of democracy and its potential to enhance the electoral process.
Use of phones and digital cameras
This is perhaps one of the notable ways that technology is being used in Nigerian elections -the use of phone or digital cameras.
APC agent caught on camera threatening voters who won’t vote APC to go home.
Location: Fehintola Giwa Street Aguda, Surulere, Lagos state.#NigeriaElections2023
— Rinu Oduala 🔥🔫 (@SavvyRinu) February 25, 2023
From North to South, voters were seen taking advantage of their smartphone cameras to capture the situation across various polling units.
By sharing photos and videos on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, voters seem to be holding politicians and election officials accountable, providing transparency and helping to deter malpractices.
Another way technology played a major role is in its potential to make real-time reporting possible through the the internet. Journalists, like other community members, took advantage of it to report news in real-time, connecting their news rooms across the country or serving their foreign editors and publishers from various polling units.
Viral Video: A voting scene from the University of Ibadan #NigeriaDecides #ElectionDay #Nigeriadecide2023#NigeriaElections2023 #2023Elections#PulseElections2023
— Pulse Nigeria (@PulseNigeria247) February 25, 2023
This year, the widespread internet access across the country aided reporters in their role to share updates on social media and their websites.
When thugs disrupted some polling units, reporters were swift to turn in reports to alert the world.
READ ALSO:NEWS REVIEW… #NigeriaDecides2023: Die is cast as Nigerians go to polls in most significant election
The BVAS and other gadgets
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials also made use of technology to coordinate and monitor the election process.
Thugs snatched BVAS machines in Katsina, Delta — INEC. pic.twitter.com/NyR4FRAg6X
— YabaLeftOnline (@yabaleftonline) February 25, 2023
Through the use of a centralized database, regional leaders could track and oversee the actions and voting records from polling units across the country.
Another significant advantage of technology in the election is the ability to counter misinformation.
Our team alongside colleagues from @yvotenaija & Election Violence Incidence Tracker, currently at the situation room tackling the spread of #fakenews and #disinformation which are attempts to deliberately disrupt the electoral process.#NigeriaDecides2023 #ElectionsFactCheck pic.twitter.com/fSOQFZEVzy
— FactCheckElections (@2023_Factcheck) February 25, 2023
Before now, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are often used to spread false information during election cycles.
Fake news is spreading on social media in Nigeria ahead of the presidential election, taking advantage of the country’s high unemployment rate and large internet user population where cash-for-posts is tempting.#NigeriaDecides2023 ➡️ https://t.co/qpMZX9LGtY pic.twitter.com/0iram6g4cP
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 23, 2023
However, these platforms have begun to take action by labeling fake news and limiting its spread, ensuring that voters can only access accurate information.
Online engagement and education
Beyond the use of BVAS, cameras and countering misinformation, technology also facilitated a new form of political engagement through social media.
Join our #TwitterSpace now to share what’s going on in your area and hear what we have found from out own monitoring. https://t.co/Qd6dMNWSoZ
— HumAngle_ (@HumAngle_) February 25, 2023
Before and during the election process, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were used to host virtual conferences on democracy and the electoral process, providing opportunities for discussion, debate, and collaboration.
The future of elections in Nigeria
In conclusion, technology is transforming the way we engage with the electoral process in Nigeria. And, as we continue to innovate and experiment with new technologies, the future of democracy in Nigeria looks brighter than ever.
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