Centre for Democracy and Development CDD

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Thursday launched its election analysis centre.

The centre was put together by the CDD with support from the MacArthur Foundation and other partners. Data gathered shows the history of elections from 1999 to 2015 when the last general elections were held.

The analysis also reflects the trends and pattern of past elections and various security threats to the elections in various parts of Nigeria.

Among the security threats is the herdsmen/farmers conflict which is responsible for the displacement of about 300,000 people in Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Nasarawa states. The conflict has gotten a large number of Nigerians worried as they have caused several deaths across the country.

The director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, said the data will be available for public usage on the site and will also be shared on social media.

She said “In this election, we are also using influencers who can draw traffic and engage the public immediately, combatting the fake news as it comes. It is a one-stop shop not just for observation report but for fake news and analysis on what has previously happened in the Nigerian election from 1999 to 2015 and all the off circle elections held since then. So we can interrogate what is happening in the whole electoral environment.”

Jude Ilo of the Open Society Initiatives for West Africa (OSIWA) appreciated the international and African community for their support and solidarity and for the strong message they sent to Nigeria that people who undermine this process will incur the wrath of the world not just of Nigeria.

He also commended CSOs for their ability to work in the same direction despite having many parts. He said CSOs are playing important roles in ensuring that democracy thrives in Nigeria.

“What all the CSOs are doing are all bits of the same puzzle, relying on each other’s strength to get something whole at the end of the day. At the end of the day, all of this analysis will still form part of what the Situation Room is going to use for the rapid response intervention for which it is being set up.”

The event was also attended by an official of the U.S. embassy, David Young; an official of the Canadian embassy, Phillip Baker; and the Australian Ambassador to Nigeria, Paul Lehmann.

They gave their goodwill messages and applauded the role that civil society plays in the efforts to make sure the elections are free and fair, and also for combatting fake news and hate speeches.

They also reinforced the fact that there will be consequences for any party or individual inciting violence.

“Fake news and hate speeches are a very worrisome phenomenon of our time. We want to support you in combating all kinds of fake news that get reported, …, and undermines the spirit of people being able to peacefully go to the polls on Saturday,” Mr Young said.

CDD also conducted an online study to get a clearer picture of how fake news flows.

The analysis focuses mainly on Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook data collected between December and January reflected a very broad international perspective of the electoral processes.

About 118,649 tweets were collected from the campaign and politically related hashtags. A high level of automation was discovered many of which seemed to focus on a call for the election boycott by the Indigenous People of Biafra.

Also, the study revealed a high proportion of false news site and Facebooks groups which share questionable contents across platforms.

Data was collected manually on WhatsApp which has a large penetration rate in Nigeria because of its closed end to end encryption platform.

A senior fellow of the CDD, Jibrin Ibrahim, said negative labelling has been dangerous for democracy because it increases the quantum of hate in the society which has been high during the electoral process.

He said people are more interested in labelling opposition candidates than reading the manifestos of their candidates.

“People in their comments and discussions refer to the manifestos of the two major candidates. Many people we spoke to have not even read the manifestos. So people tend to take the shortcut of simply deciding on the label – good or bad – rather than try to understand what the candidates are standing for and what is the implication of their policy positions for our electoral processes and above all for governance following the elections,” he said.

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