#NMCG2018 (LIVE UPDATES): Experts discuss fake news, 2019 elections at new media conference

The 2018 edition of New Media, Citizens & Governance Conference opens for the second day this morning in Abuja. Speakers from across Africa and beyond would be speaking throughout the day.

Enough Is Enough, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and BudgIT Nigeria — the major partners for the conference — plan to use this year’s edition to highlight the broadening function of new media platforms, especially social media, in facilitating discourse between government and the governed, with particular reference to Africa.

Today is the final day of the two day event. Click here to read PREMIUM TIMES full updates of the yesterday’s activities.

Stay on this page for today’s updates.

Chris Ihidero, the moderator of the ongoing panel on ‘Using the Social Media as a Sex Education Tool’ asked why sexual violence, especially against women, is growing across Nigeria.

Jekein Lato-Unah of Stand to End Rape (STER) said the crisis is worsening because Nigerian men like to control women. She said there is a stigma even towards female menstrual cycle, with some cultures even deploring it.

“It is a biological thing,” Ms Lato-Unah said, no one should discriminate against anyone because of this.

Another panelist Dorothy Njemanze said some men often claim they are attracted by provocative way some women dress. She contradicted this by saying that that should not be an excuse because men often patronise prostitutes and still inflict violence on them.

Prostitutes are humans, too, Ms Njemanze said.

Also speaking on the panel, Anthonia Okoli said there are always threats even against those who seek to end sexual violence against women.

She cited an example of her friend in Ondo State whose daughter was stalked because she tried to stop a man who was encouraging rape on Facebook.

Mr Ihidero said women alone cannot combat threats against themselves, suggesting that men should be carried along.

Chizobam Ofoegbu, also on the panel, said there is even a growing sexual violence against boys. She suggested that a therapy should be introduced to cater for boys who were exposed to sexual activities at early age by women.

She said the menace had even spread into churches, where women take advantage of boys and rape them. This often causes serious psychological damage to victims.

Therefore, the fight against sexual violence should be a collective effort amongst both genders.

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Ms Njemanze said she was raped at eight by four people. She said she could not talk about it. She said she had had an accident at age four and was undergoing therapy.

She added that she now understands how critical it is to educate children at early stages rather than waiting until it is too late. She says rapists carry out their activities like armed robbers, they get their victims to easily succumb to their demand using violence.

She said parents should educate their children and make them understand that sexual violence could be oral but it is still rape.

Ms Dorothy said people don’t know that there are different kinds of rape in this world, According to her she said every single woman have been harassed in this world and people just keep quite.

Ms Chizobam, said when we are born we are taught to learn how the society
should accept us, she said they see daddy and mummy come out after having sex and they see that it is a good way how to leave life.

She said, people have to understand what are the benefits after sex. she added that a woman get to think when she have sex just to get pampered, get more loved.

Session 8: New Media as an advocacy Tool

Panelists are Megan Chapman Bukky Shonibare, a member of the bring back our Girls Campaign, Ose Anenih and Laila Johnson-Salami (Moderator).

Ms Megan said People ask why she was still involved on #OtodoGbame, and she responded that it was because there are about 30,000 people who are still homeless. ”I don’t want to forget and I don’t want others to forget” she said.

She added that when the issue of #OtodoGbame trended on Social Media, there were responses from across the world and they were able to raise N2million within two days for the affected. ”So yes, social media has been useful in amplifying advocacy.”

she furthered that, with the use of proliferation of digital tools, they were able to those who were forcefully evicted and they were also able to engage with on advocacy which made impact. she said they would still have to keep tag on the victims aftermath the demolition.

Ms Megan also said social media users should not use skepticism to let them get far as doubt has made people diverse from reality to fake news.

Mr Anenih said instead of accusing a woman for wearing short clothes the society.

Mr Anenih said, social media as an advocacy is very powerful, he sighted an example with the trending song going in the country he used the trending video of popular musicians as an example on what Nigerians are talking about and how Nigerian have been so involved in the musical video.

Ms Bukky said that people forget forget easily that boko haram are still very active. adding that, people just believe on the notion that social media platform is ”just social media”, and it would only get to a point when the government find out that the social media can also be an embarrassment, like the abduction of the Dapchi girls it was when the government knew that the campaign led to a big embarrassment to the county.

she said We need to keep reminding people of the issue even when it is no longer trending. That’s why I started my daily picture campaign on twitter.

Ms bukky also gave her SARS menace experience and how social media helped her share her story to the public, she said it helps people to understand the story because audiences took to the platform to share there own ordeal with the force she said social media helps people bring there own story from different perspective.

The current session is on ‘New Media and Elections’ and it has Fatu Ogwuche, an election technology expert, as the moderator.

Fareeda Noubremma, a Togolese activist, said the necessary constitutional reforms aimed at improving elections in Togo cannot be implemented before the upcoming election in that country.

Ms Noubremma said social media is helping Togolese youth to intensify advocacy around democratic process in the country, especially elections.

The effect of social media advocacy by the youth has already prompted the Togolese authorities to commence large-scale monitoring of citizens online.

She said the more they are being monitored, the more they are energised to look for more platforms to strategise on their advocacy.

Yasmin Bilikis from Sierra Leone said youth in that country have also been using social media to effectively advocate for a better governance.

She said the social media played a key role in voting out the incumbent president during the last presidential election in Sierra Leone.

She said the social media was used to drive the campaign to get out the vote across the country.

Precious Gaye, a Liberian journalist, said President George Weah and his political party exploited the power of social media to appeal the young generation and first time voters in the country.

She also said Liberian electoral authorities used the social media to reach out on its efforts, as well as text messages to reach those who might not be on the Internet.

Kwami Ahiabenu from Ghana said the youth on social media encouraged the electoral commission in that country to improve on its presence on social media, a campaign that paid off.

In the last presidential election in Ghana, Mr Ahiabenu said electoral commission was able to immediately address issues that were raised on the field, from polling units to collation centres.

He said in 2012, people made good use of social media, but by the 2016 election, the effort had improved significantly and the role of social media in the success of the election was widely acclaimed.

Ms Noubremma said even though social media could be used to galvanised the citizens ahead of election, there should be efforts to improve logistics so that people would be able to vote when they get to the polling unit.

She said there should be a system that limits repression of voters, especially by security agencies who might be firing teargas to disperse potential voters.

Mr Williams said people should be tenacious around the issue of voting. He urged citizens to see elections as a civic responsibility and make sure they exercise it, notwithstanding the frustration they undergo in the process.

Mr Ahiabenu says there are still cases in which people would vote but it would not country, which could demoralise social media users. He says is difficult to deal with some serious electoral malpractices like rigging to suppress the will of the people, but that citizens should not be discouraged to stay away from polling units because of that.

Mr Williams said citizens should continue to use the social media to fight for the right things to be done during elections. He said during the Osun governorship election last month, social media helped the people to know who actually won the election, even though the person might not have been declared winner.

The September 22 election was heavily condemned by civic groups and diplomatic missions in Nigeria who observed it. Potential voters of Ademola Adeleke, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, were said to have been prevented by a collaboration of the police and political thugs from exercising their right to choose on the day of the rerun election on November 27.

Mr Williams said citizens are free to consult for political parties, but they should always allow citizens to hold victors to account when they get to power because they are using public resources.

Mr Williams said StateCraft, an election strategy firm he co-founded, only did its job professionally, saying citizens are the ones who should hold whoever is voted into office to account.

The firm is widely believed to have worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence in 2015. Both Mr Williams and his partner, Chude Jideonwo, have come under repeated backlash promoting Mr Buhari, whom critics said had performed miserably as president.

Ms Gaye said citizens should be properly informed on whoever they want to vote for so that they would not be disappointed after election.

She said civic education should take priority in pre-election matters.

Ms Noubremma said citizens should always ensure that they vote against candidates rather than for. Her theory is that whenever a citizen votes against someone they know does not represent their interests, such vote would cancel out that of the candidate, at least.

Mr Williams said technology should be massively deployed in order to guarantee better election.

And that wraps the panel on new media and elections.

The session underway is ‘Digital Security: Is Social Media Really Friendly?’

Adeboye Adegoke is the moderator. Panelists include Peter Nkanga, a free press advocate; Gabriel Okpo from CCHub in Lagos, Akua Gyekye of Facebook, Cecilia Maundu and Ronald Kekembo, a digital training expert from Ugadan.

Mr Nkanga says everyone must have a personal protocol for the important information they put online. This is the most important thing, he said.

Ms Gyekye says people often see Internet security as too complex to grasp, but this is hardly ever the case. It is pretty simple, she says.

She adds that it is easy for people to always check privacy setting on social media accounts, whom they want to see their family photos and other similar posts.

She says for Facebook, users could always check their security status to see who has access to their accounts and at what time. They could always control this to their best taste.

If you also want to stay safe on social media, it is always better to report. But the problem is that people rarely report things, and that would make it difficult for Facebook to do anything about.

Mr Okpo says CCHub has created a platform for safer online security for people, which civic groups, journalists and bloggers have since been taking advantage of. He says people use simple and easy-to-guess words as password.

Mr Okpo says people do this because they do not want to have difficulties remembering their passwords. They also often save their passwords to allow automatic sign-in which is highly discouraged.

Ms Maundu says people should avoid leaving digital footprints. She says many always assume that because they are not famous or rich, no one is really interested in their private information.

She urges people to desist from leaving their private information online because they may become powerful tomorrow, or they information could even be sold in the immediate term.

Mr Kekembo differentiates between ‘http’ and ‘https’ in Internet protocols. He says former is like sending a postcard and allowing anyone to be able to read it during transmission while the order is like sending a letter that is properly sealed and conveyed through secure courier services.

Mr Nkanga says a lot of cybercriminals now embed malicious software into applications, especially for those on Android-based devices. He urges citizens to always pay attention to the permissions they grant to specific applications.

For instance, an application for torchlight on a phone should not be asking for access to contact, and any such app that demands access to information that is not required to function should be immediately suspected and deleted.

Mr Okpo urges Internet users to check out platforms that offer tips for online safety.

Mr Sekembo says social media users should see themselves as legitimate targets for criminals online, and should therefore strictly prevent themselves from fallen victims.

Ms Maundu says people should be extra cautious about public wi-fi because it could be dangerous for transmission of personal information.

She says people are increasingly using public Internet access to do bank transfers, which could expose them to traps already set by cybercriminals.

Ms Gyekye says Facebook is improving on security measures at regular intervals. She says Facebook gets a lot of feedback, which is usually about how the Internet giant is doing better but needs to improve.

She says Facebook is already putting in place a robust platform for fact-checking information online, as well as curbing the exploits of cybercriminals.

This ends the panel on cyber security.

The last panel on ‘#OfficeOfTheCitizen: How Long Will You Rant’ is now on with Nelly Kalu as the moderator.

Sani Michael (a.k.a.: MC Lively) and Oluwatoyin Bayegun (a.k.a.: Woli Arole) are the panelists.

Mr Michael says Nigerians need to change their attitude towards government. While it is okay to crack jokes at political developments, people should be conscious that their country’s future is at stake and should act as appropriate.

Mr Bayegun says Nigerians are highly intelligent and their spirit could not be easily broken. He says the problem is that people are often more interest in distractions.

Many would rather attend events about raunchy display by some women rather than a serious debate about national development like this event.

Mr Michael says people could be both interested in entertainment as well as national development, but should not allow the current trend of almost exclusive interest in entertaining contents continue.

He says people should be stimulated towards serious debates. It is very difficult to get people interested in serious debates because Nigerians are not easily amenable to change, he adds.

Even when entertainers go into politics, they are often derided by the public and asked to go back to entertainment which they know to do best.

Mr Bayegun buttresses an earlier point by Adebola Williams that firms are allowed to do business with politicians but should not be held responsible for what their clients do when they get into office.

He says citizens should be the ones to hold government to account, especially in the upcoming general elections. He says the citizens know what needs to be fixed and should therefore focus on it.

Mr Bayegun says social media influencers could let their followers know where they stand during elections, but that they should do so only on principle and not because they are led by monetary compensation.

Both panelists agree social media influencers could help reduces cases of violence against women by campaigning against rape, molestation, amongst others.

Mr Bayegun says influencers should not be gagged on their political views online because they are also citizens and have a right to choose whoever they believe represents their ideological biases.

Tope Ogundipe, programme director at Paradigm Initiative, complains that influencers like Messrs Bayegun and Michael usually demand for money to shoot public interest videos for non-profits organisations.

Mr Michael says it could be at times due to the volume of requests they receive, but whenever they see genuine causes, some of the patriotic ones amongst them are never reluctant to get involved.

Mr Bayegun says he is a patriotic influencer and does not put money forward when it comes to shooting videos to create awareness about specific social issues that are of interest to national development. He concluded that Nigerians should be vigilant in not only the upcoming election and subsequent ones.

With this, the 2018 edition of NMCG is concluded. Thank you for reading along with us.

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