The makers of an app that allows Nigerians to rate their elected officials has expressed concern at claims in a US Government report that the nation’s 2019 General Election featured “historically high” levels of voter intimidation, violence and vote-buying.
A recently-released report from the US State Department into Human Rights in Nigeria claims to have seen evidence that “military and security services intimidated voters, electoral officials and election observers” during the 2019 election campaign, and stated that “violence in several states contributed to lower voter participation”.
The report continues: “There were reports that corruption, including vote-buying, were historically high during the 2018-19 electoral season.
“The government took some steps to investigate alleged abuses but there were few public reports of prosecutions of officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government”.
The report does conclude, however, that “most independent observers agreed the election outcome was credible” despite “logistical challenges, localized violence, and some irregularities”.
Joel Popoola, Nigerian tech entrepreneur and founder of the Digital Democracy project, expressed his concern at the report.
The project’s Rate Your Leader app helps politicians engage with voters in their constituencies, helping them understand what matters most to the people who elect them and build relationships of trust with the electorate, as well as rating elected officials for their responsiveness.
The app also allows votes to identify and contact their representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phones or tablets.
“As a proud Nigerian, the US State Department report makes very worrying reading. At Rate Your Leader, our technology is designed to let Nigerian voters rate their democratically elected figures, but this report seems to have given Nigerian democracy itself a one star review.
“We all want Nigerian to be a role model for good democracy, across Africa and across the World. It does our nation no good at all for other countries to see us this way, especially when the technology exists in the pockets of every Nigerian to improve the reputation of both our politicians and our politics.
“Nigerian politicians need to take advantage of every available resource to improve the reputation of our politics – at home and overseas. Apps like Rate Your Leader give them the opportunity to do that by greatly improving transparency and engagement with the people they represent”.
Rate Your Leader, is a free app which allows voters to communicate directly with elected representatives in a way which makes abuse impossible, as well as rating them for responsiveness.
The app was developed by the Digital Democracy project, which aims to use digital technology to reconnect electors and the elected.
The Rate Your Leader app is available from the Apple and Google Marketplaces. The app
has a five star rating on the Google market, with one reviewer writing “This is the new level of politics…better communication of leaders with the electorates and accountability”.