THE TWO-DAY Kano Social Influencers Summit (KANSIS) 2023, organised by the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), ended with participants calling for the protection of their digital rights.
In a communique signed by Haruna Adamu Hadejia from CITAD, Salisu M. Indabawa from Centre for Youth Entrepreneurship and Development Initiative (CEYEDI) and Wumi Simon of Wunancy Pepper Dem, participants identified several positive and negative aspects of online platforms.
On the positive side, they noted that online platforms have promoted whistleblowing, democratised access to information, and provided job opportunities. However, they also noted challenges such as the cyberbullying and harassment, spread of dangerous speech, hate speech, and rumours.
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To address these issues, participants recommended measures like supporting the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, protecting social media users from abuse, introducing dedicated social media platforms for reporting, and promoting free and open digital platforms for use through education and guidance.
The summit emphasized the importance of harnessing the potential of social media while mitigating its negative impacts, ultimately striving for a more responsible and innovative digital future.
Below is the full text of the communique:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A TWO-DAY KANO SOCIAL INFLUENCERS SUMMIT HELD AT THE YUSUF MAITAMA SULE UNIVERSITY, KANO ON OCTOBER 25-26, 2023
The Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD’s) annual programme titled, Kano Social Influencers Summit (KANSIS) took place between October 25 and 26, 2023 at the Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano. As usual, there were pool of partners, associates, friends, professional groups and organizations that collaborated with CITAD toward the conduct of the summit. These organizations include the Associations for Progressive Communications (APC), Lenovo Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Guarantee Radio, Meta, Moving Image, AREWA Radio, Bayero University, Kano (BUK), FOMBINA Imprints, Yusuf Maitama University and CITAD Academy. The two-day event was a social interface among citizens, government, traditional institutions and other relevant bodies where they learn, interrogate and ask questions to seek answers that would influence good governance in the country.
The opening session was chaired by Engr. (Chief) O. C. Iromantu, (pioneer EVC, NCC). The Executive Director of CITAD, Y. Z. Ya’u provided briefing about the summit followed by the welcome remarks by the Chair, Governing Board of CITAD, Prof Amina Kaidal of the University of Maiduguri. Different personalities from various walks of life participated at the two-day summit. Distinguished persons at the opening session included the Honourable Commissioner of Information Kano State, Baba Halilu Dantiye MON who declared the summit open. Goodwill messages from eminent personalities such as His Highness the Emir of Machina, Alhaji (Dr) Albishir Bukar Machinama OON, Dr Kole Shetima, Africa Director, MacArthur Foundation, representative of INEC in Kano, Hajiya Safiya Garbaand, the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano.
Four different plenaries were and sixteen (16) parallel sessions held during the two-day event with presentations delivered on various topics. Some of the presentations made at the event include: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Narratives on Social Media Uses by Dr. Bala Muhammad of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) as the opening lecture. Other presentations were “Addressing Hate Speech in Social Media: Role of Religious Leaders, Traditional Rulers: Managing Diversity, the Challenge of Social Media in Traditional Institutions by Former Gubernatorial candidate of ADC in Kano State and respected Islamic leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil, Reverend Samuel Adeyemo from Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and His Highness the Emir of Machina, Alhaji (Dr) Albishir Bukar Machinama OON. At the other plenaries presentations were made on “How Social Media can help Whistleblowers, Curbing Corruption in the Electoral System, Gender, Corruption and the Struggle for Promoting Accountability. At the closing session, three presentations were made by Mal Ibrahim Muazzam, retired lecturer of Bayero University, Kano, Prince Daniel Aboki of Cool FM/Wazobia/Nigerian Info/Arewa Radio and Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC. The presentations were on “Knowledge, Ethics and Philosophy as Prerequisites for Accountable Leadership”, “The Role of Creative Industry in Promoting Accountability” and “Curbing Corruption in the Electoral System” respectively. Representative of the EFCC Mr. Jimmy Tanko, and Barr Maryam Uwais OON, also made presentations on “Post-Election Agenda Setting, Accountability & Citizen’s Oversight” and “Gender, Corruption and Accountability” Respectively.
This year, CITAD introduced a new activity during the summit entitled “Hackaton” as well as exhibition of technology innovation by young innovators and the exhibition of students of theses by Aliko Dangote University of Science and Technology, Wudil and Federal University, Dutse. thye were meant to boost inspiration, innovation, creativity, and productivity of young people using the ICTs. Competition was specifically designed for selected participants who competed in designing new Apps that enhance human lives and development through technology. The three winners, Rabi’u Sagir Abdulkadir of Team Astra, Yusuf Muhammad Zakari of team “The Mindshare” and Nasir Shehu Musa of team “Alpha” were presented with cash prizes of NGN100, 000, NGN75, 000 and NGN50,000 respectively.
A pre-summit (online) lecture was organized on the eve of the programme where discussions were held in CITAD’s office on “the State of Internet in Nigeria”, presented by Mr. Fola Odufuwa. The session served as an eye opener to the main event that took place at the Yusuf Maitama University.
At the final day of the summit, six hundred and twenty-six (626) people consisting of 397 Male, 229 female and people with special needs numbering to 39 attended the programme. It was facilitated both physically and online.
Observations/issues identified by participants;
Positive parts of the social media: –
1. Emergence of social media influences whistle blowing as a notably catalyst for change in the country
2. Social media has democratized access to Information by making “secret” information to become “public/democratized” through provision of various platforms for sharing. Existential barriers to information have now been reduced.
3. Social media serves as an avenue for marketing activities, thus providing job opportunities for the unemployed, especially youth
4. Social media is being used in “real time reporting”, i.e., reporting of incidents as they happen such as vote buying in real-time (before, during or after) elections
5. Social media enhances “crowdsourcing information”; Influencers and other election monitors use dedicated hashtags where people can report instances of any election malpractice
6. Social media compels leaders to be responsive to some demands of their constituents
7. Social media provide an opportunity to engage leaders on governance, bringing elected representative closer while away from his/her constituency
8. People use social media to report issues from community level
9. Social media can be used to promote traditional values, culture and beliefs among diverse groups
10. Use of social media serves as an alternate to the “manual town crier” who move and shouts from to place for messaging and announcements
11. Social influencers in the country have reduced the extent of potential election riggings through various social media platforms by informing public of ongoing happenings at polls ahead of INEC
12. The People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) are listened by government through social media than any other means
13. Emergence of social media, which has given an online presence to PWDs as compared to how they have been neglected on mainstream media like TV and radio.
Negative parts of the social media:
1. Social media is being used negatively by youth especially in promoting political sentiments/polarization rather than political enlightenment
2. Many social media users lack adequate knowledge and skills on how to use it
3. Use of dangerous speech, rumor and hate speech are being perpetrated through the social media.
4. It is used to trigger, fuel and escalate dispute by teaming youths with lots of evidences at citizens disposal
5. The social media is also used by many in diaspora to promote personal interests and conflict among citizens rather than general interests
6. Students reading culture have been affected by heavy reliance on information provided by the social media
7. Political thuggery is influenced through the social media
8. Incitements, social vices among youths (crime, negative use of drugs, etc) are high through the social media
Proffered solutions to the problems:
1. Government should support the passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill
2. There should be a law that will protect the users of social media from abuse, especially from the security agencies
3. Government at all level should introduce dedicated social media platforms hotlines for reporting issues. These platforms can streamline reporting process and ensure complaints are addressed
4. Introduction of “blockchain” to promote transparency and temper-proof of records, thereby enhancing the integrity of supply chain and financial transactions, reducing corruption risks
5. Users of social media should be contacting professionals in relative fields that they have no prior expertise for guidance before posting or commenting on issue. This will help in validating any issues in the media
6. The National 2016 policy on whistle blowing should be updated and be legislated by the National Assembly by as an act
7. Sustained sensitization on both the social media and the whistleblowing to users. This will educate them on how to use it responsibly
8. Political parties should be encouraged to engage constituents through various social media platforms for messaging and documentation which will serve as evidence for follow-ups after elections
9. Setting up of whistleblowing apps and websites can ensure anonymity and safety for reporters
1. Haruna Adamu Hadejia, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
2. Salisu M. Indabawa, Centre for Youth Entrepreneurship and Development Initiative (CEYEDI)
3. Wumi Simon, Wunancy Pepper Dem