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8 Apr 2022

Spaces for change

Nigeria: Civil Society engage to form partnerships for countering threats to digital spaces ahead of the 2023 elections

‘Stakeholders Galvanize to Safeguard the Online Civic Space’ 5 April 2022

Determined to safeguard the online civic space ahead of the 2023 elections and beyond, civil society leaders and key private sector players came together recently at a 2-day multi-stakeholder dialogue to begin the process of forging multisectoral partnerships for countering threats to digital spaces, especially mis/disinformation during and around the 2023 General Elections. On the first day of the dialogue organized by USAID-SCALE’s Palladium in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), S4C’s Legal Officer, Patrick Allam, gave an overview of the digital civic space in Nigeria, highlighting how the private sector, particularly, telecommunication companies (Telcos), internet service providers (ISPs), content moderation platforms, private companies including foreign suppliers of surveillance technologies, have enhanced the ability of state agents to monitor the movement of citizens, to track activities of civic actors online, intercept private communications, and limit the ability of civic actors to organize, associate and assemble freely on online platforms. There is growing perception that these restrictions may heighten during election periods.

Key recommendations proposed at the end of the dialogue include:

  • The need for government agencies, BMOs and CSOs to partner and share information about key issues and developments in order to achieve mutual support for each partner.
  • The importance of creating a digital situation room for convening public/private/civil society meet-points to counter misinformation and disinformation. In this regard, ALTON will facilitate the inclusion of the Safeguard Online Civic Space group into the INEC/NCC Working Group on the 2023 Elections.
  • The need to engage government and private business organisations with a business-like/value-add-on propositions from a mutual beneficial front.
  • Increase stakeholder engagement for voter education to improve the participation of youth and marginalized groups in the electoral process