As the Nigeria General Elections finally kick off tomorrow, a brand of citizen journalists equipped with the powerful mobile app REVODA, are set to to take the nation by storm and become election watchdogs. This app is available for free download to any Nigerian citizen who wants to contribute his/her quota in protecting the ballot paper..
Teesdiary caught up with Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youths with ICT-enabled opportunities. Gbenga led the team that developed this application, and it is the first of its kind in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. There is no doubt that Africa is catching up with improvements in ICT, and once again like Nigeria’s fight for independence, it is a bloodless revolution.
Interview with Gbenga Sesan about REVODA
What is ReVoDa?
It’s a mobile application that allows citizens to monitor the electoral processes by citizens. They can report incidents such as ballot box snatching, violence, late arrival of INEC officials, police behavious, and ultimately, the election results.
How did this initiative come about – what necessitated it?
Nigeria’s elections have a history of manipulation and unfortunately, voters are also disconnected from the process beyond voting in itself. We believe that elections need to reflect the aggregate citizen preferences to be effective. ReVoDa, as part of EiE Nigeria’s RSVP campaign, connects voters to the entire process and makes it fun – especially for young voters who’re avid technology users. You can use the ReVoDa Mobile App or connect with us via regular SMS.
With ReVoDa, EiE Nigeria seeks to potentially turns the 87,297,789 Nigerians with mobile phones, 43,982,200 with Internet access and 2,985,680 on Facebook into informal election observers. ReVoDa allows voters to report as independent citizen observers from their respective Polling Units across Nigeria, having registered to map their mobile number, name and polling unit number to specific locations. It also allows EiE Nigeria to send relevant information about the electoral process to registered users.
In what ways do you see ReVoDa scaling the hurdle of user tech-literacy? In terms of, technological know-how?
The mobile app is extremely easy to use, as it works with text message (SMS) and a simple form that allows users to select options. The only time the user needs to type is when they are typing results, but every other report works with the simple drop-down menu they can select from. I should say, though, that the application also has a HELP menu that allows any user to read through how to use it.
How do you see ReVoDa impacting the coming April general elections in Nigeria?
ReVoDa provides untrained citizens with a medium through which they can share their objective and subjective election experiences, so the electoral commission will not only get reports from formal international/local observers, but citizens too. ReVoDa will help monitor important electoral issues such as progress of the elections, violence, fraud, police behaviour and the election results. If INEC announces results from locations where we have multiple reports that give reason to ask questions, we will have the facts to work with.
I also see an immediate future that includes citizen participation in the monitoring of good governance via manifesto promise delivery, government projects, corruption reports, and many other problems that Nigerians have almost come to accept as human. It will be interesting, for example, to see which state has the largest number of reports on corruption, which regions have the worst road networks and which location is the darkest on Nigeria’s map (as made possible by the hugely unliked Power Holding Company of Nigeria). Fortunately, Nigeria has elections in states such as Anambra, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, etc, between 2012 and 2014, so ReVoDa will be way better in time for the 2015 elections.
M.Junkie: Please go and out and vote. In the words of Social Media sensation, Chi-Gurl, if you sell your vote, you are a goat (no be me talk am).
I wish Nigeria a successful political transition!!
Listen to Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie on Riz Khan (Aljzeera English)