During the Presidential and National House of Assembly Elections which took place March 28, Muhammadu Buhari was elected, resulting in an unprecedented case of the opposition defeating the ruling party through democratic elections in Nigeria. This election has set an example for other rising democracies in which the people are able to play a more active role in both choosing government officials and contributing to the political decisions that will be made in the country. Digital elections monitoring provides a platform to ensure that the elections are as democratic and safe as possible and contributes to establishing a stable, accountable, and democratic government.
In Nigeria, elections have emerged as key opportunities for citizens to express their preferences and to reward or replace their leaders. A peaceful and enabling environment therefore will be essential towards the success of the national electoral body - Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 's delivery of credible polls, which will further promote the continuing emergence of Nigeria as a stable, democratic nation, especially as the country has recently witnessed insecurity issues and has been posing threat to the development of Nigeria and bilateral relationships with international partners.
This project was launched by a Nigerians non-profit organization, Connected Development (CODE). CODE is committed to empowering communities to stand up for democracy in their nation, independent of government influence, in order to impartially assess the status and progress of their country toward a safer and more peaceful nation. Achieving sustainable peace is a priority for INEC to conduct successful elections in Nigeria. With Connected Development (CODE) accredited as an observer group for the 2015 elections, Uzabe was developed to address the unique challenges that might arise in the pre, during and post election period. “Zabe” means election in Hausa Nigeria Language.
During March and April of 2015, PeaceGeeks activated our Emergency Response Team to assist with providing digital monitoring support towards ensuring transparency and legitimacy in the crucial Presidential, National House of Assembly, Governor, and State Assembly elections. Nigeria's elections were originally scheduled for Feb 14, but were postponed to enable a multinational military response to Boko Haram which has terrorized northern Nigeria and increasingly bordering communities for the last six years.
During the Presidential elections, the team received nearly 500 reports from on-the-ground and media monitors and has created over 320 reports from these messages. During this activation, PeaceGeeks volunteers contributed remotely along with dozens of other around the world from other organizations.
The PeaceGeeks team reactivated on April 11-12 to support State Governors and State House of Assembly elections in Nigeria and geolocated over 300 reports. The second activation took place during the Random Hacks of Kindness for Peace (RHok4Peace ) Hackathon in Vancouver, BC. In addition to the international team, the PeaceGeeks Emergency Response Team had an opportunity to work on the project together in person, which provided an additional level of support, enthusiasm and motivation through the long work hours.
Uzabe was be used to create report on the opening, accreditation, voting and counting processes during election day while establishing early warning systems for vulnerable communities and strengthening emergency response during violence.
This initiative had two key components:
1. Organizing and coordinating on-the-ground monitors and online media monitors who collect and submit information to a central database
2. Categorizing, geolocating and verifying messages received from monitors, which the appear on the Uzabe map