#NigeriaDecides Tech Meetup: Young Nigerians to discuss applying technology in election monitoring

One of the most convenient things to do in life is to complain/blame/criticize others for their action or inaction when things go wrong. The poor governance prevalent in our part of the world gives one a lot to complain about. With democracy slowly gaining ground in Nigeria however, the next phase of agitation should not be merely complaining about bad leaders, but taking part actively in the electoral process in a bid to ensure only the right calibre of people are voted into office.

Too many elections in Nigeria are flawed. Most of those standing for office have clearly perfected the “art” of election rigging. Their methods are countless and ruthless. From the subtle coercion cash (and rice) distribution to the outright killing of political players. Find below an excerpt of Nigerian General Election, 2007 on Wikipedia:

Following the presidential election, groups monitoring the election gave it a dismal assessment. Chief EU observer Max van den Berg reported that the handling of the polls had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible”, citing “poor election organisation, lack of transparency, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement, violence and bias.”

One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich south, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.

Felix Alaba Job, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference, cited massive fraud and disorganisation, including result sheets being passed around to politicians who simply filled in numbers as they chose while bribed returning electoral officers looked away.

With social media fast gaining ground, now might be a good time for the Nigerian youth to rise-up and vote. Not just vote for the right persons, but also stand-by to police their votes, as well as spread information rapidly about what is happening at their election centres.

Some bright minds would be meeting physically and virtually this Saturday 16th October 2010 to rub minds on how best technology can be applied to election monitoring by average Nigerians. A brief description from the event page reads:

We are hosting a tech meetup to discuss technology use for the 2011 elections in Nigeria.

We’ll have a morning brainstorming session, working lunch, afternoon strategy session and then we move discussions online with possible meetups down the road.

For AM brainstorming, we will look look at general tech use for 2011: Why? What?
Then for the PM strategy session we’ll talk about  How? Who? When?

Participants are to expect:

  • No formal presentations, just an open/frank discourse
  • Just brainstorming, discussions and action-oriented break-outs
  • Lots of stick-it pads
  • Open moderation
  • Opportunity for virtual participation

Whilst registration is closed at this time, interested stakeholders are at liberty to participate remotely via Twitter. The hashtag of the meet-up is #NigeriaDecides.

This event hopefully, would be the starting point of a great revolution for Nigeria in that it could help chart a course on how citizens can insist on having their votes count.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.

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