As a part of innovative processes to secure a safer online space during the 2023 election and beyond, a Geneva-based private diplomacy organisation, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) is partnering with political social media influencers to reduce social media risks to elections in Kaduna state.
The participants, who were majorly social media influencers for gubernatorial, federal and state houses of assemblies candidates across all political parties at the end of the two-day dialogue forum on Wednesday, signed a guideline principle document to affirm their commitment to peaceful electoral campaigns in the state before, during and after 2023 elections.
A participant and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the State, Adamu Idris cautioned other participants on the usage of foul language, hate speech, disinformation and other posts capable of truncating the peace efforts by different stakeholders in the state.
“Politicians will want to use the social media platforms to trample on the right of others. Sometime after the election must have been won and lost, they would regret their action but may find it difficult to apologise.
“Again, some social media users are paid by their principals, hence allowing certain posts to go even when they know such posts are not correct. All these we shall work toward so we can have peaceful election campaigns in Kaduna State”, he promised.
Another participant who was a social media influencer for candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Bege Mark said, the workshop made him regret some of his previous posts on social media.
“I could not sleep last night when we discussed the need to make our pages safe for all irrespective of our political differences. I kept checking and thinking over my previous posts and I felt guilty.
“To clear my conscience, I had to go to my Facebook page to tender my unreserved apology to those I may have offended with my posts in the past.
“I’m happy to be a part of this workshop and I promise to avoid posts that can lead to violence either online or offline as we move towards the 2023 elections”, he vowed.
Sharing her own experience, Kyamona Elisha who claimed to be making 20 social media posts on average daily said, the two-day dialogue workshop has taught her how to be patient and develop a thick skin to be able to make her social media environment safe.
“I have learned to be patient even in the face of insults and bullying online. I’ve learned a lot about misinformation and disinformation which I don’t know before now. I made at least 20 posts daily on Facebook alone. I think my posts henceforth will promote peace”, she said.
Earlier, National Expert Adviser, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Mrs. Zigwai Ayuba said her organisation has been working closely with key stakeholders from political parties and INEC, and have secured their support to draft a code of conduct or charter aimed at influencing positive social media behaviour in the upcoming elections.
“Through our talks with stakeholders, we understand that it is crucial to involve social media influencers, particularly those who work for or represent candidates in the online space.
“We are now having a dialogue with social media influencers where key social media risks to the election process are discussed and subsequently agree on a set of standards for appropriate online behaviour which has produced this result.
The good thing is, that this set of a standard we have in place in Kaduna has now been developed and agreed upon by about 50 participants in this hall. The essence is to have a peaceful election devoid of violence whether online or offline”, she said.
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.