A digital democracy campaign has called on Nigerians to use its free app to urge their elected representatives to oppose new laws giving the government the power to shut down the internet, and imprison people for criticisms on social media.
The politically neutral Digital Democracy project, which expressed a political opinion for the first time, called on Nigerian governors, Senators and House of Representative members to vote down the proposed National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech bill and the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other Related Offences bill,
The new laws, if passed, would give the Nigerian government the power to shut down the internet and limit access to social media, and make criticizing the government punishable with up to three years in prison.
The project’s Rate Your Leader app, according to the Founder and Techpreneur, Joel Popoola, 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.
He added that the app also allows voters to identify and contact their representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phones or tablets.
“Nigeria has a fake news problem like no other nation – with even people sharing news that the President has been replaced with a clone and about imaginary invasions.
“But actually giving the government the power to shut down the internet and imprison people who use social media to say things they don’t like is like curing an itchy foot by cutting off your leg.
“We are politically neutral and exist to bring people and politicians of all persuasions together. The Rate Your Leader app was designed to allow people to get truthful, credible information from their representatives, and to politely and respectfully let them know what matters most to the people they serve.
“We are calling on Nigerian voters to use Rate Your Leader to let their elected officials know that these bills will stifle freedom of expression, political engagement and even technological innovation. Bad for business. Bad for democracy. Bad for Nigeria”.
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”.
Mr Popoola also hinted that the app will be launched in Nigeria in the first few weeks of 2020 in Lagos.