In 2012, Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) partnered with the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation to host the 1st edition of the New Media and Governance Conference which focused on tools and trends. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) and BudgIT provided resource persons.
For the 2nd edition of the conference, we have added ‘citizens’ as a key element of the conversation. We will collaborate with PIN and BudgIT to host a two-day conference in October 2016 to discuss rights and responsibilities of citizens and government in using new media in a mutually beneficial way.
The conference will be 18 months after Nigeria witnessed the peaceful ouster of an incumbent president through the ballot; the first time in Nigeria’s democratic history. The conference will also serve as a follow up to several discussions on the use of new media in elections and as a tool for holding government officials and institutions accountable. This is against a culture of resistance by African governments to engaging citizens in a transparent and accountable manner. In February, the Ugandan government shutdown the internet to prevent real time reporting of election happenings and results. As expected, the incumbent president declared himself the winner and the results were contested.
Nigeria’s recent advocacy to stop the efforts of legislators to pass a bill that would have restricted freedom of speech on social media; a similar bill in Ghana and an existing act in Cameroon provide additional context for the discussions during the conference.
New media leverages on technology and platforms to connect, curate and share information in ways that have never been done before. As a subset of new media, ‘social media’ requires interaction and it is this element that opens areas of risk – security and privacy challenges. These issues will also be discussed during the conference.
Social media has continued to play a crucial role in the political landscape of the entire world. Political office holders (elected and appointed), political office campaigners, government departments and agencies have utilized social media as a tool to lure and engage their constituents and individuals they render service to.
In addition to this, several organizations have established platforms enabling citizens to make their voices heard either during and after elections. Examples include Ushahidi (Kenya but worldwide adaptations), Revoda (Nigeria), Shine Your Eye (Nigeria), and Mzalendo (Kenya).
Panels on national security, social media conduct, national orientation and technical sessions will then provide opportunities for discussions, learnings and resolutions over two days.