NOA DG condemns vote-buying at NMCG conference as partners launch Constitution 101

NOA DG condemns vote-buying at NMCG conference as partners launch Constitution 101

- The practice of vote buying sweeping round the nation continues to attract condemnation

- The director general of the National Orientation Agency, Dr Garba Abari, has joined in condemning the practice

- Abari gave his thoughts on the issue at Day 2 of the New Media Citizens and Governance Conference in Abuja

The director general of the National Orientation Agency, Dr Garba Abari, has condemned the practice of vote buying which has been the latest trend in elections conducted recently in the country.

Dr Abari made the comments on Thursday, October 25, at Day 2 of the New Media Citizens and Governance Conference in Abuja, where he was one of the panelists.

He condemned it as “a big threat to our society and the quality of governance we get,” even as he called on citizens to be actively engaged in the governance process.

At the conference, conversations on digital security, fake news and the integrity of elections in Africa were prominent.

Digital security, elections dominate discussion at NMCG conference as partners launch Constitution 101

Participants at Day 2 of the New Media Citizens and Governance Conference in Abuja. Photo credit: Paradigm Initiative
Source: Facebook

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The conference, hosted by Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Paradigm Initiative and BudgIT, provided participants and speakers from seven African countries to deliberate on the theme, “Government, New Media, and Civic Spaces.”

According to Adeolu Adekola, EiE’s program manager, “Part of the recommendations from the NMCG2016 conference was the need to bridge the knowledge gap most Nigerian citizens have of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“This is because fundamentally, rights and responsibilities of citizens are contained in the constitution but unfortunately, most people have never gone through the constitution to understand its content due to its volume and language complexity.

“Constitution 101 was thus conceptualized to improve citizens’ access to essential parts of the constitution. After the first 2 phases, identification of the most essential sections of the constitution which is the third phase is ongoing and a 1st draft (for feedback and reviews) was launched after the Closing Civic spaces & Constitution 101 - What Every Citizen Should Know session at NMCG2018.”

Speaking at a session titled Digital Security-Is Social Media Really Friendly, Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Affairs Manager for Africa, said that the global technology firm was working hard to keep their platform safe and free of hate speech and fake news.

She urged users to take their digital security seriously while using any digital tools while assuring the audience that Facebook remained dedicated to safeguarding the data users submit to them.

Ronald Kakembo, a digital security expert, asked users to consider digital security as digital safety.

“You need to protect your digital assets, your accounts, your passwords, the same way you secure your home. This is more of a process than tools, and you have to be deliberate about your security,” he advised.

Commenting on the importance of social media, Farida Nobourema, a Togolese activist, lauded the medium as an important tool of mobilisation, education and a platform for resistance against government overreach.

Nobourema, said, “in Togo, where all institutions have been politicised, including the Supreme Court, social media remains an effective platform for citizens to fight back.”

Speakers at the conference include Hamzat Lawal, Olumide Babalola, Chioma Agwuegbo, Laila Johnson-Salami, Chris Ihidero and Megan Chapman. Others are Chizobam Ofoegbu, Oluwatoyin Bayegun (Woli Arole), Sani Michael (MC Lively) and Gabriel Okeowo.

Supported by Facebook, MacArthur Foundation, Luminate & Palladium (through its ECP-PERL program), the NMCG is a biennial event that was last held in 2016. The next edition of the conference will hold October 20 and 21, 2020.

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Speakers at the conference on Wednesday, October 24, spoke about the limitation of social media and the new challenges its deployment has thrown up.

Tope Ogundipe, the director of programs at Paradigm Initiative, ha said the organisers were pleased with the turnout on the first day of the conference and expressed hope that “the conversations will help provide clarity to the issues raised here while also energising citizens to take their role in the democratic process more seriously.”

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