NMCG2018: Citizens, experts assess the role of new media in a democracy

Posted by News Express | 27 October 2018 | 1,007 times

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• Cross section of participants at the event

Citizens and experts have assessed the important role new media plays in entrenching democratic practices in Nigeria. They spoke on Wednesday, October 24, at the New Media, Citizens and Governance (NMCG) conference in Abuja.

In his keynote address, Chidi Odinkalu, the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), praised the role new media has played in ensuring dissemination of information and demystifying the aura around power.

“The power of new media has made it easy to access the innermost corners of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. Places like the Presidential Villa where people are being barred from taking pictures already exist in Google Maps,” Odinkalu said.

Speaking during the session titled “Are Elections Won on the Timeline?”, Demola Olarewaju, a digital media expert and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), considered digital tools as crucial to the success of Nigeria’s democracy, saying “by leveraging the tools of the internet, we can confront rigging and limit its impact on our elections.”

Sesugh Akume of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) said the Nigerian people can further use the power of social media to “counter the APC-PDP dichotomy that has dominated political discourse in Nigeria. If active Nigerians decide to expand the discussion beyond APC and PDP, they can easily do these with social media.”

Speakers at the conference also spoke about the limitation of social media and the new challenges its deployment has thrown up.

Odinkalu said: “One of the major problems with new media today is influence without responsibility. So, social media is today driving up violence and other vices. I know some people who have almost been driven to suicide because of bullying that goes on online.”

Supported by Facebook, MacArthur Foundation, Luminate & Palladium, the NMCG is a biennial event that was last held in 2016. The 2-day conference is hosted by Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Paradigm Initiative and BudgIT to discuss the theme, “Government, New Media, and Civic Spaces.”

Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programmes at Paradigm Initiative, said the organisers are pleased with the turnout on the first day of the conference and hope “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.”


Source: News Express

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