Aregbesola to Deliver Keynote Address as West African Stakeholders Convene for Information Disorder West Africa Conference

Aregbesola to Deliver Keynote Address as West African Stakeholders Convene for Information Disorder West Africa Conference

The Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola will deliver the conference keynote address as experts, policymakers, academia and other stakeholders from West Africa convene on the 17th and 18th of November to review and interrogate the mechanics of how communication crisis threatens the internal stability of states, institutions and critical national assets.

 

The conference, organised by the Dubawa’s Information Disorder West Africa Conference. The conference is part of Dubawa’s ongoing #WeekForTruth campaign, set to hold from the 15th to 20th November 2021.

 

The conference, organised by DUBAWA, the West African verification and rating platform, is an attempt to tackle the information disorder phenomenon as it affects different aspects of society and governance and to showcase the research outcomes of Dubawa’s sub-regional Research Fellowship which has been running for the past 6 months. 

 

The conference will feature high-level panels with distinguished participants such as the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, the Country Director, Amnesty International and many other dignitaries.

 

Speaking about the timing and imperative of the conference, Mr Adedeji Adekunle, Programme Director of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism [PTCIJ], said “the resilience of democratic accountability and the ability of governments, institutions and citizens to forge a common bond on good governance and the integrity of democracy in our sub-region will depend largely on how we perceive and respond to the current threats of information disorder.”  

 

By the end of the conference, we expect that plausible solutions and ideas which will alleviate the negative effects of information disorder on governance, human rights, elections, healthcare and other aspects of societal living will be developed and shared. The West African scope of the conference will also redefine our problem-solving approach, utilising our commonalities and unique perspectives across the sub-region.

 

DUBAWA is a non-partisan verification and rating platform designed to help renew West  African journalism and democracy through the promotion of a culture of fact-checking and factual public debate. DUBAWA adheres strictly to the principles of the International Fact-checking Network (IFCN), to which it is a signatory. It currently has offices in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone with footprints in Liberia and The Gambia as well. DUBAWA is a project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), a West African centre for journalism innovation and development.

 

Challenges And Solutions For A Free And Credible Electoral Process

Challenges And Solutions For A Free And Credible Electoral Process

The outbreak of COVID-19 has made elections within Nigeria enormously challenging and threatens to overturn other democratic ideals including frequent political dialogues, political party campaigns and manifesto interrogations vis-à-vis active citizen participation across the state[1]. Notwithstanding, the latest challenge of COVID-19 include the several intrigues that come into play seeking to affect the electoral process and its outcomes usually by political agents thereby making it difficult to achieve a free, fair and credible electoral outcome.

Although there have been about six successive general elections in Nigeria, there still exists a couple of bottlenecks in the process of election credibility. The amendment of the Electoral Act has attempted to make provisions for some electronic assistance in the reduction of political agents’ interference. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has introduced innovations to boost the credibility and trust of Nigerians in the electoral process such as the use of an electronic register of voters, the issuance of a chip-based Permanent Voter’ Card (PVC) to registered voters, and the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) for the verification and authentication of voters in 2015[2]. The year 2019 saw the introduction of the Continuous Accreditation and Voting System (CAVS) designed to prevent the possible disenfranchisement of voters, the mandatory use of the SCR for the accreditation of voters, and the discontinuation of the use of Incident Forms to forestall the fraud or abuse by election officials or other stakeholders at the PUs.

The article thus seeks to review some of the challenges and categorize them while proffering solutions for a free and credible electoral process.

Challenges of Electoral Transparency

Despite the aforementioned improvements in the electoral system, elections appear to be losing credibility with the attendant voter apathy[3][4]. The summary of the challenges of the electoral system is categorized thus:

  • Violence and Intimidation[5]: Violent disruptions in the electoral process occasioned by thugs or security forces actions, which either lead to or have the potential of leading to injuries or total/partial stoppage of the process.
  • Voter Inducement: This includes activities that tend to push eligible voters to vote in favour of a particular political party or candidate. This can be monetary, gifts, or “stomach infrastructure” (food supplies given as a bribe to voters to sway the polls).
  • Governance: These are issues that do not have any direct bearing with the election but are brought in because political actors are in power or have connections with people in power.
  • Disenfranchisement: Issues of not being allowed to vote in elections by conscious and concerted efforts by either political thugs, polling unit agents, security forces, or party agents. This category can be on a personal or group basis.
  • Natural Disaster: Incidences that are not man-made but also have adverse effects on the election or electoral process. This includes capsized boats, fire, flood, etc. Such issues can also include pandemics like in the case of the COVID-19. Even when guidelines and regulations[6] are put in place, the voters may still not be able to fully exercise their rights.
  • Intra/Inter-Party Squabbles[7]: Issues of in-fighting within or across political parties. Issues can include counter-accusations, candidacy litigations, or substitution.
  • Result declaration: Attempts to rig or manipulate already announced or yet to be announced results. It also includes results tweeted or tweets about results either through official channels or otherwise. Under this category, it is possible for mischievous elements to try to mislead the public through fake results which then casts doubts in their minds.

Solutions

In planning for a free and credible electoral process, the electoral umpire must be seen to be free and fair even in the build-up to the elections. This is further driven by a lot of voter education which, in the case of Nigeria, appears not to be deliberate considering the dwindling number of voters.

Other proposals include:

More strategic engagement of the various organs of government empowered to conduct citizen education like the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and the voter education unit of the electoral body. Such engagements should be deliberate and focused on the deployment of various languages and media to reach the grassroot populations.

Establishment of electoral offences commission and enforcement of roles and judgement of same.

To avoid misinformation and disinformation, there is a need for strategic partnership between fact-checking organizations and agencies of government referred to in 1. Fact-checking organizations should be strengthened and non-partisan.

More electoral training on citizen engagement should be done for security operatives and kitted with non-compact gears provided for election purposes.

Call For Volunteers

Call For Volunteers

DUBAWA WEEK  FOR TRUTH (NOVEMBER 2021)

Are you passionate about making an impact? Do you want to help in the personal development of young adults in the various Senior High and Tertiary schools in the country?

If yes, then we need you. This is your chance to leave a mark.

Dubawa, a fact-checking and verification project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), is looking for volunteers to join a nationwide outreach to educate students/youth corp members on media and information literacy, basic fact-checking and critical thinking skills!

Eligibility and Expectation

Volunteers must

  • Be resident in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia.
  • Be willing to undergo an online training if selected
  • Be willing to visit a senior high school (preferably their alma mater) or a tertiary institution in their resident country to sensitize and educate students on media and information literacy and fact-checking as a means of combating fake news.
  • Will be available for the ‘‘week for truth’’ in the second week of November.
  • Must understand the use of social media.
  • Must have good communication skills.

Click on this form to sign up.

Registration will end at midnight on 17th of October 2021.

Selected volunteers will be notified and trained.

A Communique issued at the end of a Roundtable Discussion themed “Strategic Partnerships for Accountability in Nigeria”, on 2nd September 2021 organised by the Udeme project of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) at Orisun Art Source, Abuja, Nigeria

A Communique issued at the end of a Roundtable Discussion themed “Strategic Partnerships for Accountability in Nigeria”, on 2nd September 2021 organised by the Udeme project of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) at Orisun Art Source, Abuja, Nigeria

Preamble

Collaborative governance has been described as a non-existent element in the quest for accountability in Nigeria. It allows stakeholders in government, civil society organisations, media, communities and the private sector to come together and develop innovative frameworks for development.

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Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10 of the Human Rights Act and Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria confer on humans the right to freedom of opinion, expression, the press and the right to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This is a qualified right that enables anyone to hold a free opinion and express them verbally, in writing, through television, radio or the internet. Read More