From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As a part of the deliberate effort to reduce political social media posts capable of online and offline crises before, during and after the 2023 elections in Kaduna State, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) has trained 25 Kaduna-based monitors to track online posts by political candidates and parties between October 2022 and May 2023.
The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) is a Swiss-based private diplomacy organisation founded on the principles of humanity, impartiality and independence with a mission to help prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict through dialogue and mediation which it has been doing in several countries in conflict situations across the globe.
Speaking at the sideline of day-2 of a two-day monitoring workshop on code of conduct for responsible social media in Kaduna state during the 2023 elections, National Expert Adviser, HD, Zigwai Ayuba noted that the training became necessary to forestall political misinformation and disinformation on social media.
To her, it is expected that the monitors would shape the dynamics in terms of conversations by way of injecting some ‘positivities’ into the social media space which will have ripple effects even on online behaviours because “we hope that participants will be able to use this knowledge and at the same time step it down to those who will need it.
“It is high time we started factoring technology into all we do. For 2023 election more that ever, the electoral body will be using technology as it dim fit. So, this is one the measures we need to put in place so that technology does not also mar the election.
“At the end of the monitoring activities, we will be setting a standard fro the country because this is the first of its kind in the country especially towards the 2023 elections.
“The good thing about this is that, before we invited people at different levels, we held bilateral meetings with the political candidates who were quite excited about the idea of developing a charter because some of them have been victims of misinformation and disinformation.
“These candidates expressed their willingness to sign the charter and they recommended that we work with their social media influencers which we have done. One key thing is that after their social media influencers met and developed the charter, they shared with their principals and we did not have any objection which means clear endorsement. What remains now is to have public signage so that people will know about it”, added Zigwai.
Earlier, Project Manager, HD, Ms. Caroline Nyaga said, “for us at the Centre, we are involved in social media based on the COVID-19 experience when the world fell back on social media space and we have seen a lot of value in engaging with the youth, other social media activists and journalists using the social media and digital space.
“Having that in mind, we saw the needed to also anchor our peace mediation effort around how social media influencers positively or negatively make this mediation works. With that and election coming up in 2023, we want to see how we can mobilise for peace mediation effort around the social media”, she said.
On the choice of Kaduna as pilot state she said, “we chose Kaduna State for the pilot phase because we still see a lot of polarisations here. Again, we have a very active social media presence in Kaduna and influencers are key to utilising the space positively and make sure the social media activities do not influence negatively in terms of activities that are happening offline”.