Nigeria: 4th New Media, Citizens, and Governance Conference

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By Musa Isa Ahmed

The Nigerian (EiE Nigeria) Enough is Enough and Paradigm Initiative (PIN) will hold the fourth edition of the bi-annual pan-African New Media, Citizens, and Governance Conference (NMCG) virtually on October 20 and 21, 2020. The organizers made this known in a press statement issued on Wednesday, August 20th, two months to the conference.

Africa’s civic space is evolving with the application of new technologies and methods to strengthen advocacy and foster active citizenship. The emergence of new media has also impacted on new organisations that are reaching out to citizens to demand accountability from the government with results and these three organizations have effectively used new media to drive social impact, creating societal change across different contexts.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging technology has become the norm and it’s appropriate that a conference focused on new media will be virtual this year. The two-day virtual conference will hold from Tuesday, October 20 – Wednesday, October 21 with the theme New Media & Voice: Hashtags, Action & People. The conference will have 3 breakout sessions focused on freedom of speech, the digital economy, virtual public hearings, #StateOfEmergencyGBV and others.

According to BudgIT’s Director, Oluseun Onigbinde, “Our reality is changing, and the pandemic has led to the emergence of a new culture of engagement in all spheres of life including civic and political matters. There are other salient issues that are spin-offs from the pandemic.

One of these includes the recent gag on freedom of speech and expression by governments across the world, the rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence across Africa have also become a ‘shadow’ pandemic. The conference will provide a platform for analysts, policymakers, and citizens to discuss these issues from various perspectives with the purpose of proffering solutions and strategizing pathways to mitigate some of the challenges posed by the new normal.” he added.

Speaking on the development, Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative (PIN) said, “Although the pandemic has forced a new way of life for everyone, we must not lose sight of critical issues that affect how we engage in the digital age. Clampdowns and violations of citizen’s digital rights heightened during the lockdowns. The only way to preserve the rights and ability of citizens to use digital platforms for either activism or economic survival is to continue to assert the importance of these rights as a precondition to the desired gains of a digital economy for most Africa nations.”

BudgIT is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. A pioneer in the field of social advocacy melded with technology, BudgIT uses an array of tech tools to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising standards of transparency and accountability in government.

Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) is a movement of knowledgeable citizens that ensure our leaders serve us. EiE launched the concept of the #OfficeOfTheCitizen as part of its 5th anniversary activities in 2015 to educate Nigerians on their rights and responsibilities. EiE’s #RSVP – Register/Select/Vote/Protect is a key voter education campaign. EiE was an integral part of the #OccupyNigeria movement in 2012 and is very active in the #OpenNASS campaign. 2020 is EiE’s 10th anniversary and it’s driving the #OnePerson campaign to reinforce its belief that one person can make a difference in building a better society.

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organisation’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls.

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