2015 elections: Take note, youths have arrived! (2)
The effectiveness comes from the relative ease of access, the anonymity it can confer on participants, relative speed of dissemination and the general prevalence of java enabled, android, blackberry and other feature phones.
In surveys of forums where issues were discussed by the youth, the social media was the most visible and preferred.
For example, what would have been the most embarrassing moment of the election was saved by the quick intervention by mostly young people and dissemination of information on social media platforms.
When the card readers provided by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ascertain the true identity of voters began to fail, Nigerians observed that the seal on those cards had to be removed and began to circulate the important notice on social media which helped a lot.
Moreover, where a case of underage voting was discovered, the suspected under-age voter was snapped with phone camera and picture went viral in a matter of minutes which also provoked INEC quick intervention and investigation. The efficacy of social media and mobile technological advancement also assisted voters in policing their votes.
After voting, voters waited till their votes were counted. As soon as votes were counted at the pooling units, the unofficial results got to us nationwide thereby making it difficult for results to be doctored by anyone who might want to rig.
Quick and useful reports to help the INEC, security services, political parties, print, and electronic were shared via social media and appropriate authorities were also copied.
From testimonies received so far, many Nigerians have confirmed that social media being used as a tool of social engineering made useful information available to them which also helped in areas of security challenges.
As a young leader, my opinion was sampled in a live telecast on the effect of inciting violence or using the youth as a political tug simply because young people’s opinions are respected as key actors who are also stakeholders in the national project.
The social media has also become a general assembly for young people where opinions are shaped with enabling space for encouraging debates with intent of mobilising young people towards popular position as far as electoral matters are concerned.
In addition, the political actors also deployed agents for collecting opinions from the social media as means for getting true, undiluted and useful feedbacks from all strata of the society.
This is due to the efficacy of the social media as a viable platform for getting original information that is helpful for decision taking in the electoral process.
While this article is to highlights the roles of young people and social media towards free, fair, credible and violence free election in Nigeria, it would be unfair to discuss such emphatic success without reverencing other important stakeholders such as INEC officials, Security Services, peaceful political actors, Civil Society Actors, the press as an institution, international organisations like ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, European Union, and many of their member states for their roles in recording violence free elections in Nigeria in the face of terrorism.
The outgoing government also exhibited the spirit of sportsmanship by quickly congratulating the incoming president before official announcement of results. This is the first of its kind in the history of our country at the presidential level.
The young people can ride upon the innovative mobile technological advancement and the efficacy of social media to launch a bottom-up popularisation of political participation among young people and expand the frontiers of democracy, using the social media effectively.
This helped to achieve its launching locally and internationally. It enables civic engagement and pioneers the popularisation of young people ownership in democracy of their nationalities.
The slogan now in Nigeria is ‘no victor, no vanquished’, ‘Victory for all Nigerians irrespective of political affiliations’
The engagement is not over yet. It just started. Democracy is not all about winning elections; the acid test of democracy is good governance. We are ready to make this new government to be accountable to us.
The good news to us is that our votes now count and we can make any leaders who need our support to come up with youth policies that will shape our world among other dividends of democracy.
• Oyinlade is a lawyer, youth policy, human rights and international law expert. He tweets via @AdeolaOyinlade.
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