By Bode Adewumi
Some experts have called for the use of emerging technologies to educate citizens on politics, good governance and electoral processes.
They made this call during a panel session at the just-concluded AfricaNXT 2023 while speaking on the theme, “Emerging Technologies and Civic Engagement.”
The experts said that voters’ apathy had been a crucial concern in the electoral process in Nigeria, noting that there had been a sustained decline in voter turnout.
They said during the 2019 general elections, 51 percent of the 84 million registered voters were youths, but in spite of that, the total votes cast for the presidential elections was 28.6 million.
Mr Kunle Lawal, the Executive Director, Electoral College Nigeria, said that many people in Nigeria lacked adequate political knowledge and trust in the electoral processes.
“Many Nigerians are politically illiterate, they do not understand governance, hence, it is the job of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to create awareness by leveraging on technology to educate citizens.
“The reason we experience low turnout during elections is because many Nigerians struggle to make informed choices due to lack of education on the voting processes,” Lawal said.
Bukola Idowu, Team Lead, Kimpact Development Initiative, said that in recent times, technological innovation in the civic space has been providing citizens with unprecedented access to information on how to become more active citizens.
Idowu said that citizens, especially youths, were equipped with the knowledge to actively engage elected government officials and policy makers to demand for good governance.
He said that while CSOs had used technology to engage a number of citizens and national parliaments, some Nigerians lack access to the internet or infrastructure, hence cannot engage in politics digitally.
Idowu said, “Our concern now should be how to connect the citizens in the offline territory to those online, so that they can work together.
“We need to connect and sensitise those in the grassroots on good governance and why it is necessary to participate in electoral processes,” he said.
Mr David Ayodele, Senior Programme Associate, Enough is Enough, said civic technology has increased the power of citizens over political life and made governments more accessible, efficient, effective and accountable.
He, however, noted that most citizens do not understand the Nigerian constitution, adding that the government should introduce the constitution as a subject that should be taught in schools.
AfricaNXT 2023 with the theme, “Cooperate. Collaborate. Innovate. Unlocking Our Potential, Ensuring Africa’s Prosperity,” is currently in its 11th edition.