Professor Attahiru Jega, chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, at a recent event:
INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, in Abuja on Monday attributed the success of the 2011 general elections to the commitment of the Nigerian media.
The chairman said that voter education had become imperative as the nation approached the 2015 general elections, noting that there was need to deepen democracy through credible elections.
Jega said that INEC also benefited from inputs by all stakeholders which resulted in substantive achievements.
He said that the commission was determined to ensure that the 2015 elections were more remarkable than those of 2011.
“The success of credible elections is not the responsibility of INEC alone, but the joint responsibility of all enlightened citizens in the electoral process,’’ he said.
Prof. Jega made somewhat similar remarks approximately one year ago:
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference on ‘New Media and Governance: Tools and Trends’ held at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, he said internet platform “provided a vehicle for the unprecedented mobilisation of the emergent generation of youths in the political process.”
The INEC boss said this was “crucial because youths between the ages 18 and 35 constituted 62.4 percent of the 73.5 million people registered by INEC during the voter registration exercise conducted early in 2011. There is no doubt that the level of interest shown by the younger generation in the 2011 elections was never before witnessed in Nigeria’s political history. But I believe that the most gratifying dimension of this development is the patriotic zeal demonstrated by corps of young technophiles who volunteer to man our new media platforms every time we open the Situation Room for election. They did that during the 2011 general elections and they have done so for all the state governorship elections we have conducted this year.”
Jega said there was no doubt that new media tools have added value to Nigeria’s electoral process, noting that new media has the potential to deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
Nigeria’s 2011 elections have been called the “best run, but the most violent.” (For more on these issues, readers may be interested in reports from International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch.)
What role will different media play in 2015? There have been high hopes that media can enhance transparency and accountability, for example by allowing civil society groups to rapidly share – with the entire world – photographs and reports from polling places. Can media help reduce violence in 2015 by promoting accountability – or are social media activists themselves potential targets of violence? Or both?