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Descriptive System for Creating Awareness In The Electoral Process In Nigeria Using Information Technology

Descriptive System for Creating Awareness In The Electoral Process In Nigeria Using Information Technology

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Published by ijcsis
Knowledge is power, as is popularly said, and lack of knowledge of the electoral process of one’s nation makes one a subject, rather than citizen. What makes the difference between citizens and subjects is the type and volume of information possessed. This paper discusses the electoral process in Nigeria in relation to the principal actors in the process, namely, the electorates, the political players, the electoral body, the Judiciary and the Government. They roles of each principal actor are highlighted. The current state of awareness of the electoral process in Nigeria is explained as well as factors leading to this state. Information Technology and its growth in Nigeria are reviewed. The Methodology for creating people’s awareness towards the electoral process in Nigeria is proposed and evaluated. The challenges facing the advancement of Information Technology in the country are enumerated and a conclusion is drawn.
Knowledge is power, as is popularly said, and lack of knowledge of the electoral process of one’s nation makes one a subject, rather than citizen. What makes the difference between citizens and subjects is the type and volume of information possessed. This paper discusses the electoral process in Nigeria in relation to the principal actors in the process, namely, the electorates, the political players, the electoral body, the Judiciary and the Government. They roles of each principal actor are highlighted. The current state of awareness of the electoral process in Nigeria is explained as well as factors leading to this state. Information Technology and its growth in Nigeria are reviewed. The Methodology for creating people’s awareness towards the electoral process in Nigeria is proposed and evaluated. The challenges facing the advancement of Information Technology in the country are enumerated and a conclusion is drawn.

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Descriptive System For Creating Awareness In The Electoral Process InNigeria Using Information Technology
B. A. OnyekweluDepartment of Computer Science, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State
bukolajc@yahoo.co.uk  &Dr. D.T. Akomolafe, MBCSDepartment of Computer Science, Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji- Arakeji, Osun State, Nigeriadtakomolafe@yahoo.com Corresponding author email address isdtakomolafe@yahoo.com 
ABSTRACT
Knowledge is power, as is popularly said, and lack of knowledge of the electoral process of one’snation makes one a subject, rather than citizen.What makes the difference between citizens andsubjects is the type and volume of informationpossessed. This paper discusses the electoralprocess in Nigeria in relation to the principal actorsin the process, namely, the electorates, the politicalplayers, the electoral body, the Judiciary and theGovernment. They roles of each principal actor arehighlighted. The current state of awareness of theelectoral process in Nigeria is explained as well asfactors leading to this state. InformationTechnology and its growth in Nigeria are reviewed.The Methodology for creating people’s awarenesstowards the electoral process in Nigeria is proposedand evaluated. The challenges facing theadvancement of Information Technology in thecountry are enumerated and a conclusion is drawn.
Keywords:
electoral process, information, Nigeria,Government, Technology.
1.
 
INTRODUCTION
The popular saying, “knowledge is power”, is notan exaggeration. One of the major factors thataffect the electoral process, and almost everyother process in Nigeria and other developingcountries is the lack of knowledge of the processby the majority of the participants. Oneimportant way to impart knowledge is bycreating awareness. Majority of the people indeveloping countries, Nigeria in particular arenot aware of the details of the electoral process.It is important for the entire populace to be madeaware that the electoral process involves morethan just coming out to vote. The ability to votecorrectly is determined by proper awareness of all the other key events in the electoral process.Proper awareness also promotes activeparticipation and feeling of citizenship amongthe populace, which is crucial to the success of any developing nation (Weldeab, 2010)Unlike in time past, the advent of InformationTechnology (IT) and its rapid spread in Nigeriahas made the work of awareness creation asurmountable task. IT can be applied to most, if not all the key events of the electoral process insuch a way that as each event is unfolding, thepeople are equipped with proper awareness.These will eventually makes an average personin the process has correct information and properunderstanding of each event thereby setting ahigh level of transparency in the electoralprocess, which will in turn bring about a higherlevel of trust in the governance of the nation.
2.
 
THE ELECTORAL PROCESS INNIGERIA
 
The electoral process in Nigeria beganimmediately the country gained independence in1960. Being a newly independent country, thegovernment was made up of a coalition of different political parties, which were theNigerian People's Congress (NPC), the NationalCouncil of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria'smaiden Governor-General in 1960. The liberalAction Group (AG) formed the opposition. Thenation seceded from its British legacy in 1963 bydeclaring itself a Federal Republic. Electionswere held in 1965, amid dubious electoralcircumstances. (Wikipedia, 2010). Since then,the nation has gone through several political eras.The Nigeria Electoral system is the singlemember constituency type with competitive
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010224http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
multiparty and the first past the post winnersystem. The method of voting used in five out of six past elections, that is, in 1979,1983, 1999,2003 and 2007 was the Open Ballot System(OBS). The OBS entails a procedure in which theprospective voter goes through a process of accreditation, receives a ballot paper from theappropriate poll official and thereafter makes theconfidential thumb impression in favour of thepolitical party or candidate of choice in a secretvoting compartment before dropping the ballot inthe box positioned in the open, in the full glare of officials, security agents and party agents. (Okop,2006)There are five key groups involved in theelectoral process and these are the electorates,the political players, the electoral officials, theJudiciary and the Government. Each of thesegroups has their distinct roles in the electoralprocess.
2.1. The Electorates
These are the citizens, and they make up thegeneral populace; the people of the land. In anydemocracy, there is a clear difference betweencitizens and subjects. The subjects passivelyallow the Government to initiate and carry outpublic policies, while the citizens activelyparticipate in the rituals of democracy (Lyonsand Alexander, 2000). The difference betweenthe two is determined by their level of awareness.This group usually takes active part in two majorevents in the electoral process, which are voters’registration and voting. In Nigeria, as in mostother nations, the voting age is 18 years andabove. This group constitutes the most vitalcomponent of the electoral system and theydetermine the success or failure of the system.Consequently, they are supposed to be madeaware and sensitized of every development in theelectoral process.
2.2. The Political Players
These are the main players in the electoralprocess. They include the political aspirants aswell as everyone who is registered as a memberof a political party. Some of the key events thatinvolve this group, apart from the registrationand voting, are:
 
Registration of parties
 
Registration of members into each party
 
Registration of candidates
 
Establishment of strategies of winingelections
 
Primary Elections
 
Elections
 
Proper monitoring
 
Presentation of candidates for electivepositions
2.3. The Electoral Body
This group is made up of the electoralcommission set up by the government to conductelections and personnel employed either as a fullor ad hoc staff. These are the personnelemployed specifically to implement the variouskey events that make up the electoral process ascontained in the laws that set up the body. Theycan be described as the bridge between theelectorates and the political players. They areinvolved in most of the activities of the electoralprocess. The events that involve the electoralofficers, as described by (Nelson, 2001), are:
 
Registration of voters or updating of registration records;
 
Parties and candidates’ registration;
 
educating voters;
 
accrediting observers and monitors;
 
establishing an electoral campaignperiod;
 
oversight of the process and itsmachinery;
 
preparing for, and then holding the voteand count;
 
announcing the results; and
 
inauguration of the newly electedofficials
 
Nigeria as a country has a population of about120 million people, out of which, there are about60 million registered and eligible voters spreadacross 120,000 polling centres. As a result of this, election supervision and manning of thecentres require about 500,000 officials, a greaternumber of which are temporary or ad-hoc staff,recruited and trained, usually very late in theelections process (Okop, 2006).The officials are usually appointed andcoordinated under the umbrella of the electoralbody which is put in place by the government.This has always brought the electoral body underfire from many quarters, such as political partiesand civil society any time there is a failure in theelectoral process. They have accused the
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010225http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
commission of being susceptible to pressurefrom the ruling Party (Owen, 2003).
2.4 JUDICIARY
The judiciary is charged with its normalresponsibility of dispensing justice in theelectoral process. Any dispute, complaint relatingto the election as it affects any of the players andintra party disputes are adjudicated upon by the judiciary
2.5. The Government
This includes the ruling party, as well as thepolitical office holders who might belong eitherto the ruling party or an opposition party. TheNigerian Government has always played anactive role in the electoral process, andparticularly in the putting in place the electoralbody. In 1992, the ruling Government went as faras creating two political parties, and creating theguidelines and manifesto guiding each of theparties.
3.
 
THE PRESENT STATE OFAWARENESS
Presently, the state of awareness of the electoralprocess in Nigeria is very low, especially amongthe first group of participants, the electorates.This is due to several factors, some of which are;
 
Lack of proper education of theelectorate on the electoral processes, dueto lack of adequate funding to theappropriate authorities. .
 
Lack of proper media access as a resultof unbalanced reporting and unequaladvertising rates. Government ownedprint and electronic media givepreferences to the ruling party in theprovision of access above other partiesand candidates.
 
Irregular Power supply, which in turnlimits the electorates’ access toelectronic media.
 
Poverty, which makes an average manon the street want to focus his attentionon earning his daily bread rather thanmaking effort to be educated on theelectoral process of the nation
 
Bad Precedence, as a large percentage of the electorates is disillusioned because of the past experiences they had in theelectoral process in the country.All these factors must be taken into considerationin other to design an effective People Awarenessprogram for the electoral process of Nigeria.
4.
 
INFORMATION ANDINFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Information Technology (IT) can be defined ascomputer-based activities that are derived fromthe convergent fields of micro-electronics,computing, and tele-communications and thathave led to the reorganization of the processes of production, distribution, and circulation insociety. (Nwachuku, 1994). It is the combinationof computer, electronics and media to informimpart and educate for the attainment of corporate goals. It is the major tool that is used togenerate and disseminate information. It is aknown fact that information is an importantresource that may be generated, shared, andutilized in decision-making. (Graham, 1980)defined information as data that has beenprocessed. The importance of information cannotbe overstressed; it is a major resource thatdetermines the success or failure of anyorganization. Lack of information creates a hugegap in any given society, while availability of Information and access to knowledge make verybig impact on progress of all societies. Effectiveuse of Information Technology helps to reducethe knowledge gap. (Akomolafe & Eludire,2009) opined that information is an importantingredient used in decision making for theattainment of aims, aspiration, goals andobjectives and (Akinyokun, 1999) identifiedthree forms on information that can be generatedand disseminated using IT and these are text,video and sound. (Falaki, 2004) clearly explainedhow each of these forms could be generated anddisseminated using IT.In the last 15 years, Information Technology hascreated a huge impact on world society.(Bhalesain, 2007). IT has enormous potential as atool not only for improving governance, but alsoto enhance the standard of living of the people.(Nair and Prasad, 2002).
4.1. The Growth of Information Technology inNigeria
All around the world, Governments and peopleare beginning to truly appreciate the ability of ITto stimulate rapid development in all sectors of the economy (Ajayi, 2003), and Nigeria is noexception. The Federal Government began an
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010226http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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