Berkman Luncheon Series >

dec
11
2012

Power in Our Hands

Oluwaseun Odewale, Berkman Center Fellow

December 11, 12:30pm ET
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor

Armed with little more than a modest smartphone (mostly even ordinary phones) and an Internet subscription that will permit only a fair access to the mobile GPRS/EDGE, Nigerian young people went into the 2011 elections with a new wave of enthusiasm and interest.

This was the fourth consecutive elections since the reemergence of democratic governance in 1999. And until then [2011], none of the previous elections received positive review in the aspect of credibility – or freeness, or fairness. Now, with the appointment of a new leadership and growing influence of technology in fostering more accountable processes, Nigerians optimistically anticipated a marked improvement in the April 2011 elections over past discredited experiences.  

It is even more significant that more attention were paid to the 2011 elections as it portended to be the most expensive electoral experience for Nigerians. A leadership change had recently been effected in a tensed political climate and the elections management body (EMB) had set a plan for the costliest elections ever.

In light of the renewed hope and confidence, and the desire to get things right, several civil society organizations established election monitoring platforms via SMS, twitter, websites, blogs, facebook, telephone lines etc. One particular organization recruited volunteers and got itself embedded within the INEC systems to promote a “two-way communication between INEC and its stakeholders”.

What evolved was a media-tracking centre established to assess the robust blend of traditional and new media during the election period. It was an interesting trend to see how social media, for the first time, was adopted and, quite interestingly, adapted, to ensure credibility of the electoral process.

During this presentation, I intend to showcase the Nigeria experience, highlight what worked and what didn’t; specific instances of how social media interventions prevented rigging; how the elections has helped the growth of use of social media, the patterns of usage during and after the elections; and, how traditional media has adjusted to social media practice.

I hope the audience will share their experiences and proffer recommendations to revamp the innovation for a more institutionalized adaptation in promoting good governance in Nigeria, as I continue to explore this in my present research work.

About Oluwaseun

Odewale, has degrees in Chemistry (Medicinal Chemistry) and Chemical Engineering Technology. Born in Lagos, South West Nigeria, he also holds professional training diplomas in Community Local Participation (UNICEF); International Elections Observation Missions (KAIPTC/ECOWAS); Mentoring Young Leaders under the Kwame Nkrumah emerging leaders training series, and; the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance (ACOTA) (ECOWAS) among others.

This young chemist has garnered a combination of nine years local and international work experiences in social and development work, spanning especially the West African sub-region. He has worked variously with regional institutions like the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), the West African Bar Association (WABA) and recently, the Economic Community of West African States as Programme Officer (Youth), Programme Officer (Governance and Human Rights) and Research Assistant (Disaster Risks Reduction) respectively. His research experiences spanning the academic and development sectors cover both the natural and social sciences. In the development sector his focus areas include human rights, governance and political processes, regional integration and human security (security sector governance and architecture). He has five years of field experiences in Elections Observations and Monitoring in twelve member states of ECOWAS and other parts of Africa, UNOWA youth employment mapping in West Africa and inclusion of young people in processes for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) under the United Nations Millennium Campaign African office situated in Nairobi.

In addition, he has had volunteer, internship and extra-curricula experiences in campaign, mobilization and civic education working with the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the West African Students’ Union (WASU). Odewale is also a former Director of Training and Protocol to the Junior Chambers International (JCI), an international collegiate youth growth club also known as Jaycees.

Mr. Odewale has undergone and facilitated a number of training exercises both within and outside Nigeria. His training experiences cover the media, education, youth employment and empowerment, MDGs, youth leadership and democracy. In 2006, he was admitted as a research fellow at the International Leadership Training Seminar (ILTS) of the Danish Association for International Co-operation in Køln, Denmark.

Last updated December 11, 2012

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