“Voting is not only our right—it is our power” – Loung Ung
A democratic government is birthed by a fair electoral process. Ensuring the integrity and security of the election process is essential for the functioning of democracy in Nigeria and is a shared responsibility among citizens.
However, outcomes of elections in Nigeria have planted seeds of doubt in credibility, and disparity in the minds of Nigerian citizens. People no longer see the need to vote, knowing that political parties will desperately seek to win by discrediting the votes of the people and influencing the election outcomes. Overtime, trust has dwindled and electoral processes have become ridden with corruption and self-enrichment. The disaster herein is that when we do not come out to vote, we leave room for bad government officials to be elected, consequently giving credence to poor educational policies; economic downturn; difficulty in doing business and inaccessibility to basic human amenities like water, sanitation and hygiene.
Lyndon B. Johnson once said that “A man without a vote is a man without protection;” voting in the wrong people opens the door for our security to be jeopardized.
Some individuals and organisations who are concerned for our democracy have now risen to the challenge of ensuring transparency and accountability during the 2019 General Elections scheduled to hold on the 16th of February and 2nd of March 2019.
Connected Development [CODE], a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa, has launched a real-time (web-based map) situation technology, Uzabe, that would capture election processes happening across the 36 States of Nigeria.
CODE, a civil society organisation that was selected by the Independent National Electoral Commission as an accredited observer for the 2019 General Elections, will be using Uzabe technology tool to strengthen citizens participation and engagement in the electoral process, while also protecting the Nigerian democracy. CODE, through Uzabe, will provide real-time reports on security intelligence that would strengthen mitigation and emergency response during violence and establish early warning systems for vulnerable communities.
How Uzabe Works:
On election day, trained observers, volunteers and witnesses will report to Uzabe any electoral related incidences using either Uzabe hashtags on all social media platforms like twitter, facebook, Instagram; and also, directly uploading feeds to the Uzabe website. These reports are then received by the hundreds of volunteers who will structure, geo-reference, and verify them. Afterwards, the reports are visualized and made public on a map, timeline, and stats board at uzabe.org.
Citizens can report on a successful vote and also report issues such as voter suppression, ballot issues, or violence via Uzabe mapping tool. The platform allows citizens and election observers to report from the ground via many channels such as email, SMS, twitter and embeddable web forms. Uzabe is user friendly and includes the ability to easily send and receive text and images and interaction with structured messages.
CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, stated that the result of this launch is that electoral and response organisations have a new channel to monitor electoral incidences; and citizens have an easy to use tool to capture and report critical information during the 2019 general elections.
According to Lawal, riding on CODE’s participation in observing electoral processes since 2013 in Kenya, 2015 in Nigeria and 2016 in the USA, the Organisation seeks to, again, ensure peaceful electoral process, promote national reconciliation and improve quality of elections in Nigeria using Uzabe technology tools.
Through this platform CODE intends to contribute its quota to peace-building by providing the technology tool to enhance a free, fair, peaceful and credible 2019 general election by increasing transparency and accountability through active citizen participation in the electoral cycle.
According to him, Uzabe strengthens citizens participation and give situation and iWitness report from all polling units in real-time.
Connected Development [CODE] is a Non-Governmental Organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. Its Follow the Money initiative tracks government and international aid spending in rural engagement in deciding a better future for our country. The technology platform helps the Nigerian citizens to communities to ensure and promote open government and service delivery. Since 2012, we have tracked an estimate of USD 1 million (in budgeted sums for projects) across 100 communities in over 25 Nigerian states, improving over 1 million rural lives.