THE Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), ICT experts, media professionals, intellectuals and social influencers have strongly advocated for the exploration, adoption and deployment of right strategies to deploy digital technology for the promotion of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening session of the second edition of the Kano Social Influencers Summit, tagged; KANSIS2021, held at the Digital Bridge Institute in Kano on Wednesday, the gathering, which included ICT experts, academics, media professionals, and social influencers, canvassed for positive ideas from young and dynamic Nigerians with digital technology skills.
In his welcome address at the opening session of the two-day summit, Convener of KANSIS and Executive Director of CITAD, Mallam (Engr) Y.Z. Ya’u, said the Summit, which was inaugurated in 2019 and meant to be an annual event, could not hold last year due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Mallam Y’au said KANSIS was conceived to be “three things in one:” a laboratory, a forum for interface of people with ideas and a social clinic for interrogating those ideas and learn.
“KANSIS is conceived to be three things in one. It is a laboratory, an incubator: meaning that participants would receive ideas, explore them and by the time we leave here, go away with them so that they can grow up and become something that will impact on either promoting democracy, good governance, fighting insecurity and anything that is positive in transforming Nigeria through our own traits.
“It is also a forum to prove of ourselves, meaning that, there are people who have toyed with various ideas, various tools and they are gearing to share their experience of the good work that they have been doing across various sectors and using different tools to achieve impact in the society; they will showcase those things they are doing and for us to learn and possibly improve on what they are doing.
“It is also a social clinic, a clinic in the sense that we’re here to interrogate ideas; we’re here to learn; we’re here to ask questions and possibly get answers, but if we don’t get answers, we’ll keep on asking the questions until we’re able to get those answers and succeed,” Mallam Ya’u said.
The chairman of opening session, Mallam Ibrahim Tizhe, who is the Provost, College of Fellows, Nigeria Computer Society, and former Chairman/President of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), commended CITAD for the initiative as he heighted the revolutionary impacts and potentials of digital technology on society.
“I would like to draw our attention to the fact that information technology has already revolutionised the way we work and live in this century and it cuts across government; influencing the way government makes policies; it also affects the way we conduct business; it also affects us as citizens; it affects the way we are seen by our governments just as it affects the way we relate with our governments,” Mallam Tizhe stressed.
He called on social influencers to use the two-day event to, in greater detail, look at the issues surrounding how technology and media are blending to impact directly on the lives of citizens and their businesses.
“Today and tomorrow, you social influencers are going to look into, in greater detail, the issues surrounding how technology and media are fusing to influence the way we run our lives. In business, we know that the greatest players today are technology people. We know that Amazon, Alibaba do not have a single shop and they do not manufacture anything, but they have reduced the gap between manufacturers and consumers to displace middlemen from their offices and their various devices.
“Uber does not have a single taxi, yet they determine the way you are being transported from your originating point to your destination. These and many others are the ways we are doing business by technology. The movement from the traditional media to the new media is what has given birth to social influencers as a formidable group in the information industry,” Mallam Tizhe said.
Noting that though social media has brought a boom to the information industry by an incredible reduction of gap in communication and “bringing a profound relief in the way we get information, the speed at which we get it and the quantity at a very given time,” Mallam Tizhe stressed that the social media has also its dangers or disadvantages, particularly to the younger generation who are the principal consumers of the information that are peddled via the social media.
“As experts, I am expecting that you will discuss the potency that the social media has to positively affect the society and at the same time I want you to examine the negative effects that it has on the society.” He said
For Prof Jibrin Ibrahim, senior fellow, Centre for Democracy and Democracy (CDD), KANSIS2021 is another occasion for learning.
Prof Ibrahim, a renowned columnist and Chairman of the Editorial Board of Abuja-based online newspaper, Premium Times, said in a sense, one of the greatest things about ICT revolution is the inversion of the age-knowledge dynamics.
“I think in a sense, the greatest thing about the technology revolution that produced the social influencers is the inversion of the age-knowledge dynamics if we believe that the older you are, the more knowledge you have accumulated over time and therefore, the older, the more knowledgeable and hopefully, the wiser. But that trend has been reversed.”
Prof Ibrahim also argued that the world is “being defined and redefined by very young people” driving the ICT revolution and their target audience.
“The world is being defined and redefined by very young people, if you look at the technology giants that are running the big tech companies; when you look at the audience that’s targeted; and above all, when you look at those who’re in need of these media, what’s remarkable is their very young age,” Ibrahim said adding that this poses, for him, the question of political power.
“Somehow, for me, it always poses the question of political power. We live in a country called Nigeria where our leadership, for the most part, are in their 70s and in their 80s but where over 70% of the population is below 35.
“That poses an interesting issue I came here to seek answers to and I am relying on all of you to give me the answers. Why is there such a discrepancy, such disequilibrium between the power equation, the knowledge equation and the engagement equation? You really, really need to explain this to me because if I don’t understand what causes this, I will be at a loss on how to write my column,” Prof Ibrahim challenge an audience dominated by young men and women.
But Dr Chris Kwaja of Centre for Peace Studies, Modibbo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa State, came to the defence of the youth in his goodwill remark by locating the disequilibrium in the lack of social mobility by the younger generation of Nigerians in their lack economic capacity to access to power.
Dr Kwaja, who said he is Prof Ibrahim’s student, said Nigerian the youth are currently, in spite of their numerical strength, in a catch-22 situation, a weakened position made worse by godfather syndrome.
He said: “I engaged a young man here in Kano and I said; why is it that despite the population of the young men and women in Kano and Nigeria in general, we still have a situation where the old still determine and define the outcome of an election? He said that for them, what they know outside, when they go back home, they only answer yes sir and ma to their parents and their godfathers, and that the godfather syndrome is ruining the future of many of the young people.
“These young men and women have been weakened because you are dealing with a society where these young people relied on their parents at 18, 19, 20, 21 to 25; when they still collect money from their parents to go to school.
“Many of them don’t have their voters cards, they are in the lockers of their parents who come back home in the evening to tell them; “we have decided that APC is the party to vote for; PDP is the party to vote for; and these young men and women are in a catch-22 situation of disobeying their parents and vote according to their conscience while facing the risk losing what they will lose from their parents.”
He said the prevailing context as it affects young people in Nigeria is best illustrated in the Not-too-Young-to-Run Bill. “We saw that with the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill that was passed. One of the key messages from that bill was that it is not enough for us to say not too young to run in the context of the reform of the constitution but that a lot needs to be done about social mobility. Social mobility in the context where youth empowerment goes beyond tokenism…
“Until they are able to have a conversation that discusses the youth question in the context of their empowerment, and whether this empowerment translates into political power, we will continue to have this disequilibrium of power between the young men and the old men,” Dr Kwaja argued.
The two-day programme, which was held with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, Arewa Radio, NITDA and NCC among other organisations, I am happy to announce that over the next two days, will see a total of about 65 presentations by different speakers and resource persons and influencers in and about 3 plenary sessions and 16 parallel sessions.
In one of the sessions after the first two plenary sessions, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of National Record, Mr Onah L. Iduh, spoke on the topic: “Online Newspapers: Are They Reporting the News or They Are the News?” The session, chaired by Prof Jibrin Ibrahim was also addressed by the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Abuja-based Newsdiaryonline.com, Mr Danlami Nmodu, mni, and Mr Ismail Auwal, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Sahelian Times.