ICT YOUTH AND ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIA
Additional Fundamental knowledge
In the present day, some of the essential factors that can see a Nation from its captivity to its promise land are Information Communication Technology (ICT), youth and the Electoral process. In the world we find ourselves today, these three factors have played tremendous roles in building countries (both developed and developing) around the world, into enviable standards. Collectively, these factors can bring about positive turning point in all ramifications of a nation. Developed countries today, got the credibility of the word “developed” because of the role that these three factors have performed either individually or collectively in the affairs of the country. Considering a great Nation, NIGERIA; who has ironically attained the age of a grandmother, how far has these driving forces driven `Her` over these 50years? To what destination can they drive `Her`? These questions cannot be answered without the knowledge of the forces; (ICT, Youth and Electoral Process) and there capabilities.
The ICT force has driven so many developed countries to destinations of exquisite standards. Countries like U.S.A, Germany, Japan, can testify to its enormous effect. Simply, ICT can be described as the merging of the Telephone and computer networks through the same link system. Elaborately, ICT involves the interconnection of equipments which are used for automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, transportation, control, display, transmission of data or information. ICT, when employed into a Nation’s affairs has the ability to bring security, economy, and electoral process from doddery states to a strong and firm state. ICT facilities and its on-line based espionage of streets, seaports, estates borders etcetera with security monitoring operating system; (which can provide password restricted access to store data, video and audio with data-and-time specific playback for criminal investigation purposes) can take National Security to a higher level. With these aids, baggage, cargoes, containers coming into the country can be scanned to monitor illegal importation and transportation of contra-bands at all checkpoints and borders.
Apart from National Security, ICT can expose citizens to international marketing from the comfort of their homes and offices through the internet. It can give them the opportunity to make known their products and services to the outside world. They can also gain ease of information access and communication both within and outside the country.
In addition, ICT is capable of Job and wealth creation. ICT empowered personnel get trained to become Information Technologists, Scientists Technicians etcetera, who can develop home made software and as a result, earn foreign exchange. By this, efforts of poverty eradication are being complemented. Sole-proprietors, who contribute greatly to the economic growth of a country, can also be aided by ICT. More sole proprietors in the economy give rise to competition and consequently a fall in price of goods and services. If ICT principles are applied, sole proprietors can improve their products through faster communication with their customers, better promotion, and distribution through on-line presence. They can also communicate with their suppliers and search for business information thereby enabling expansion to new markets. In the electoral process, ICT can strengthen the campaign exercise; Internet campaigns, television, radio programs, text messages, emails etcetera can help communicate to the citizens and thus enhance familiarity with aspirants and their political parties.
In summary ICT can perform a lot of roles in the affairs of a Nation. The economy; education, transportation, communication, information, finance etcetera, and electoral process of a Nation are subject to ICT if put in place.
On the other hand, youths are referred to as “future leaders”. If time and resources are spent on youths of a nation, educating them about fundamental principles of life in democracy, exposing them to successful role models as well as strengthening their self-esteem and confidence whilst providing education experiences in the field of civic rights, then the future is in safe hands. The collaboration of ICT and youth can do wonders in the affairs of a nation including the electoral process.
Nigeria, “Giant of Africa’ as it is called can actually attain the height of a giant if ICT and youths are allowed to play their roles. The economy and electoral process will be transformed by the miracle-working hands of these factors. Taking a stroll down the electoral process of Nigeria, it can be noted that previous government and elections have being characterized by electoral malpractices, violence, declaration of state of emergencies, military take-over, and the 30 months long civil war. The 1960(independence) election was by secret ballot, which after 5 years the military took over and banned political activities. Thirteen years after, the ban was lifted. A 24 member Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) was inaugurated and headed by Mr. Richard Avic. Till date, the country is yet to experience a successful civilian to civilian transition and as a result adds to the fear that elections are crucial to the survival of Nigeria and her citizens.
However, something notably related to ICT brought about the success of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s political career. During his campaign he used helicopters to penetrate into remote areas thereby having an edge over other politicians. He took campaigns into places where others could not access. He was able to familiarize himself and his then political party AG (Action Group) with the people. For such a period, what he did could be “faintly” called ICT because he was able to communicate and transport information to people. In 2003, INEC (inaugurated in 1999) introduced ICT into the electoral process which in turn eliminated incidents of multiple registrations; a tool used by unscrupulous politicians to accumulate votes.
Since then, scanning and processing of voter details began, and up to some extent, improvements in the election exercise are being recorded. It was reportedly said that the chairman, Zinox Technological Limited, Mr. Leostan Ekeh called on the federal government to give out 200,000 Laptops to deserving graduates as part of the 50th Independent Anniversary. ICT has presented the society with a level playing ground for the actualization of individual and societal goals. Teaching and learning in schools are also catered for by ICT. Therefore, the role and effect of ICT on the Electoral process can be felt. In fact, the intensity can be higher if only ICT is totally employed into the affairs of the nation.
If there is still a glimmer of hope for “dodgy” Nigeria, then it should be from the youths. Nigerian youths can be efficient “future leaders” if they are adequately educated and equipped with ICT. By this, they will effectively put it into place and maximize its benefit to build a better Nigeria. The adjective “developing” can be replaced with “developed” if these youths can be exposed to the foundation and principles of democracy. Every sector can be refurnished by ICT if used in the proper way and by proper hands; which is why emphasis are being laid on ICT education for youths. Recently, Gateway business through ICT rolled out high speed access services across the states of the federation, promising a better ICT room for Nigerians.
Imagine that Nigeria produces mobile phones, computers, software; saving billions of naira used to import these things! Imagine that INEC will make use of Home-made machineries for voting exercises! Imagine a future ruled by youths empowered with ICT! Imagine INEC conducting credible elections! Imagine political offices assumed by well learned and capable people! Imagine a healthy electoral process! Then in your imagination, you will find a fruitful, progressive, productive, resourceful and most importantly Developed Nigeria!
To sum up, ICT, the youths, and the electoral process will collaboratively take Nigeria to the ‘promise land’. If they are given the room and adequately employed, then Nigeria will not only be called Giant of Africa, ‘she’ will be called GIANT OF THE WORLD.