It is no longer news that the apathy display by many Nigerians in the past election is due to inadequate information and education about electioneering in Nigeria, which has undermine political participation of the people in the past.
Although, there is a clamor for more political participation among the people in governance, it cannot happen in a vacuum as most people need to be well informed about the political processes before taking action.
A new website www.nigeriaelections.org created by Nigeria Election Coalition, a virtual network backed by West African Non-Governmental Organisation Network (WANGONet), is a unique news portal that is out to help bridge this age long information divide that is acknowledged by most media practitioners, community based organisation, election observers, international agencies and donors.
Information published on the website includes voter registration statistics, age group spread, gender representation at the federal and senate house level, percentage control of state by political parties, profiles of gubernatorial and presidential contestant across the major political parties, articles, features stories by key opinion leaders etc. that can serve as useful guide for credible electioneering in Nigeria.
WANGONet is a West African Nongovernmental organisation Network that has dedicated time, resources and funds towards the promotion of political participation among Nigerians. Like the Country Director, WANGONet, Tunji Lardner said “it is the people that will change the course of history when they are adequately informed on the issues at stake and their responsibility”.
The website is broken into three segments which are Agora- the pulse of the election: KYC- know your Candidate: What Where and How. A click on Agora lead users to various stories written by the Former Minister For Education, Dr. Oby Eysewisli, Akin Akinwunmi and other writers whose insight on issues are quite empowering. It also includes information on current happening with INEC and other updates about the election, stickers that could be printed to create awareness locally about the 2011 election. Know Your Candidate provide vital information about selected gubernatorial and presidential candidates, including their principles, manifestoes, family background, contact addresses that can be verified by key stakeholders in the coming poll. What Where and How provide information on the different polling stations in Nigeria.
Another intriguing thing is that the website provides a platform where individuals can summit stories, situation report, or happenings around them during and after the election. This would help provide a veritable alternative to election tracking in Nigeria, which is a welcome phenomenon. We all want credible elections and as much as possible this alternative means where everyone can serve as a watch-dog and be heard when they need to will ultimately provide some level of probity, transparency and facts that is needed when there is an election manoeuvrings at any corner of our country.
Meanwhile, in as much as the web site is an educating medium for all Nigerians to participate actively in the coming election, I believe that new media can only be effectively used and managed when it provides a platform for feedback from users. Thus, the nigeriaelections.org need to develop or create a feedback mechanism on the website.
Although, Know Your Candidate aim to provide readers with a portal to read, evaluate and appreciate each of the candidates, the list currently available is not enough representation of all the contestant we have in Nigeria. It is obvious that the gubernatorial candidates in Nigeria are more than the less than 30 candidate listed on the website. Or perhaps, the others failed to provide accurate information needed to include their profile on the website.
While browsing through Nigeriaelections.org, you might think it a bit elistic in nature. The use of graphs, text and content of the videos on the website is however applauded. A good stance others can emulate. I am happy with this new site and I recommend it to everyone who is interested in ensuring that we all have a credible election in Nigeria.
If you have not visited or signed up yet, please visit www.nigeriaelections.org.