Professor Attahiru Jega, national chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has expressed mixed feelings over the use of new media tools in the democratization process.Though the professor of political science acknowledged that the new media are vital tools of interaction and networking , he,also expressed worries about its misuse to raise what he called false alarms.Jega spoke at a conference on new media and governance in Abuja on Monday.
The INEC boss said “The 2011 General election have been described as the first set of elections in Nigeria driven by the new media .In INEC we had Situation Room where we used the various new media platforms.. to engage the public.It was a profound experience in real time interaction with the public as we engaged in instant dissemination of information..”
He added that the use of new media provided a “vehicle for unprecedented mobilisation of the emergent generation of youths in the political process.This was crucial because youth 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”.
Explaining how new media tools help to add value to the electoral process, Jega said “ they have enhanced the transparency of the political process and made INEC more accountable to the public in conduct of election
“Simultaneously, they have strengthened INEC’s power of oversight on the electoral process by empowering the public to alert the Commission of incidents requiring swift security intervention.
Also, Jega said new media “ helped to mobilize the citizenry –particularly younger generation who in the past stayed aloof to the political process” and “ they have helped to integrate our world into a community networked in real time with inter-communication that Marshal Mcluhan could never have foreseen when he projected that the world become a ‘global village’ through the media of mass communication.
Inspite of the benefits he listed above, Jega said the new media could also be used for misinformation.”Practically speaking,we in INEC have received alarms many times in our Situation Room during election 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 and false alarms?”Jega asked
Among the speakers at the event on Monday include Professor Steven Livingston of the media and international affairs ,George Washington University ,Stephen King, partner Omidyar Network, Nike Adekambi of IamLagos,Chidi Odinkalu of Open Society Justice Initiative ,Yemi Keri,Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state ,Paul Lenz of My Society and Caroline Sage of the World Bank among others.
The new media and governance conference is a two day event hosted by Shehu YarAdua Foundation with Enough is Enough EiE Nigeria as co-organizer.This is being held in partnership with several local and international bodies and institutions including Galaxy Backbone, the DFID,The Canadian High Commission and the Mac Arthur Foundation.
A dinner was held on Monday at Transcorp Hilton where Banky W and Darey Art Alade performed to the delight of all and sundry.Honourable Farouk Lawan, chairman of House of Representatives committee on Education was at the dinner.The Lawan-led adhoc committee on subsidy payments exposed the fraud in the system.No tags for this post.