The Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Abdu Bulama, on Monday said government was embarking on the training of 200 youths of voting age drawn from the six geopolitical zones on the use of appropriate technology to monitor the forthcoming elections, adding that the action is aimed at ensuring a credible 2015 polls.
The deployment of appropriate technology for electioneering process, the minister said could assist in the various aspects of electoral administration, adding that this promotes administrative efficiency, reduce long term costs and enhance political transparency.
Bulama who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, at the two-day ‘Capacity Development Conference for Nigerian Youth on Technology Tools to Report Elections’ in Abuja, said the programme was organised with the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He said social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram can be deployed for the electoral processes especially as it concerns ensuring quick transmission of results.
According to him, the essence of the training is to produce a new crop of youths that will serve as agents of change through the utilisation of innovative and technological tools in promotion of non-violence and spreading of messages of peace during election.
The minister said the training would equip the youths with knowledge and skills on the application of technology in elections for voter’s education, citizen mobilisation, spreading of peace message and supporting the overall credibility of the 2015 electoral process and beyond.
He said the ministry had the mandate to create technological infrastructure and knowledge-base that will facilitate its wide application for the country’s development. “This among others, involves strengthening of the political framework for free, fair and transparent elections as well as entrenchment of good governance and ensuring more dividends of democracy.
“These platforms could be used in spreading messages of non-violence. Text message-based Result Transmission System (RTS) could be harnessed to provide a quick and efficient way for citizens to receive provisional results.”
In his remark, the Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Boni Haruna, who was also represented by Mr. Waziri Laminu, a Director in the ministry, said the youths who form at least 45 percent of the electorate have in the past played both positive and negative roles, adding that role in the past elections violence was most pronounced.
“The two-day training session will afford the youth to have recourse on the right use of available technology in election processes. Beyond making youths’ voices heard, there is need to tally embrace peace and refuse to be used as political thugs,” he said.