ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Technology and future elections [ICT Clinic]

It is the political season and it has been a rather heated one, with political parties doing all they can to win over the electorate. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this piece the presidential aspect of the general elections should have been completed and results being awaited.

Hope you made it a point of duty to vote? Personally, I did even though it was a bit inconveniencing because I had to go pass the night in another part of town where I previously resided. Voter apathy remains a challenge that we have to confront. I had conversations with a number of young people, particularly in the technology space, who told me emphatically that they are not going to vote because, according to them, what value has politicians added to our lives? What sort of policies have they created to help young start-ups and developers, who are working extremely hard to grow and stabilise their enterprises? My response has always been, in as much as I have my reservations for politics, politicians and governance, I still go out on election day to exercise my civic responsibility and I have been doing so since 1999, when we started the current democratic dispensation. In a few cases, my candidates lose but I am still happy knowing that I voted for those I believe would move our country forward.

One of the key reasons I take part in the political process by voting is because I understand the importance of policies. If you are in the technology space and you are one of those really hoping that Nigeria catches up with other countries, then I urge you to take special interest in policies and how it affects your industry. Technology has repeatedly proven to be the game changer. It is therefore interesting for me to observe the role that technology has played in this election and in all honesty, we did not move very far when compared to 2015. In October 2013, I wrote a two part piece for this column titled, ‘ICT and politics: New vista of opportunities for democracy’. Below is an excerpt of that piece;

“As we approach the 2015 general elections, politicians in Nigeria too, can utilise the use of ICT tools to reach out to the masses, better than what was done in the past election campaign. In the 2011 general elections, I can say I received some snippets of text messages from very few candidates. Our politicians need to step up the game by utilising ICT more in the future elections. These could be improved upon by getting websites built specifically for their campaigns and having customised Facebook pages, customised Twitter pages, customised Youtube videos, etc, designed and set up specifically for their political campaigns.

Truth be told, if the use of modern technology must be enthroned, then the right manpower in terms of knowhow and credibility must be assured, because it is just like a vehicle that can crash depending on who the driver is. The time to start is now, so that they will not be caught napping when INEC signals the commencement of 2015 general elections political campaigns.”

Looking back, I admit that on the part of the political contenders, they are actually leveraging technology and social media a great deal during their various campaign, unfortunately, the electoral umpire did not make much visible progress technologically when compared to 2015. Maybe, it is because of the electoral law that did not get amended as many claim or was it a case of lack of funds. Whatever be the case, Nigeria and — Finish Reading on the Punch