Two Fridays ago, Hafiz Ringim, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police stated that Nigerians should not use cameras or mobile phones to document events during the upcoming elections. We are glad that the Independent Electoral Commission has stated that ”the use of mobile phones/devices are allowed at various polling units across the nation during the 2011 General Elections” but wish to note that the IGP’s order goes against international best practice- which is why citizens and CSOs have denounced the order.
It is against this backdrop that EiE Nigeria is launching ReVoDa, a new mobile application designed to allow citizens report incidents, results, violence/fraud,police behaviour,INEC staff conduct etc from their respective polling units- and from the comfort of their mobile phones. ReVoDa turns eligible voters into informal election observers, and allows monitoring organizations to draw conclusions about the legitimacy and accuracy of the elections.
Gbenga Sesan, Head of the IT team that developed the application said, ”since Nigeria’s elections have a history of manipulation and voters are usually disconnected from the process beyond voting in itself,the use of ReVoda during the 2011 elections will showcase the power of popular participation.”
ReVoDa provides untrained citizens with a medium through which they can share their objective and subjective election experiences and it potentially turns the 87,29,789 Nigerians with mobile phones, 43,982,200 with internet access and 2,985,680 on Facebook into informal election observers. ReVoDa is easy to use and comes with a HELP function to guide you. Anyone can download ReVoDa by texting the word GO to 0812 888 2011. ReVoDa, as part of EiE Nigeria’s RSVP campaign, connects voters to the entire process and makes it fun- especially for young voters who are avid technology users.
The Nigerian Communications Commission will be required to be at its alert best as the watchdog of the Telecommunications sector. Citizen monitoring and reporting of the elections will take place mainly via text messages and the internet. Fears of sabotage of the process by these companies under the influence of the political class have been raised by many Nigerians. EiE expects the Nigerian Communications to step up to the plate and ensure that this does not happen.