The Platform

Arinze Chijioke; Photo illustration by John Lyman

Without an engaged electorate or a viable ‘the fourth estate,’ Nigeria’s democracy would wilt and die.

It is accepted that in a democratic society where people elect their representatives, voting is an integral part. To make sure elections reflect the will of the people, journalists and youths are an indispensable part of ensuring a smooth and fair process leaving no room for vote rigging or electoral fraud.

Young people are a fundamental part of any democracy. Participation of all citizens in the democratic process is essential. However, young people across the globe are demanding better involvement in the democratic process.

A consensus is emerging that increasing the participation of young people has intrinsic value for the wider society. Increasing the participation of youth requires election monitoring bodies and other electoral stakeholders to understand the obstacles that hinder youth participation in elections.

It also requires them to challenge persistent negative assumptions about young people and appreciate the active roles young men and women are already playing, particularly regarding addressing different forms of violence during elections. In new and emerging democracies, the inclusion of young people in formal political processes is essential.

Effective youth participation in politics is vital to global democratic progress. Many countries have seen a significant increase in young people being more engaged and proactive in recent years. Studies suggest that more than half of the world’s 7.4 billion people are now between the ages of 20 and 44.

Young people made a number of contributions to the Nigerian electoral process in 2018, including rallies, campaigns, and the general election. The youth in various states within Nigeria were instrumental in the success of the major parties. This helped facilitate a relatively smooth general election compared to years past.

On the other hand, the media and journalists also provide a key ingredient for any functioning democracy. Although journalists are not the only ones who provide information to voters, they increasingly set the political agenda in today’s world of mass media, especially in less technologically advanced countries.

Journalists are crucial in educating the public about current events and drawing the spotlight on a range of social problems. In addition, journalists can have a strong influence on public opinion. Transparency in today’s politics and society at large depends on a healthy “fourth estate.” They frequently perform this function as a “watchdog.”

After voting, transparency is absolutely essential for any democratic society. Transparency impacts available information, whether an election is considered legitimate, and finally, the direction of political discourse.

Transparency is defined as a condition in which the masses are given complete information to enable them to make informed decisions; it ensures that public officials and organizations are held accountable. It might include access to legal procedures and also information on authorities and institutions.

For example, it is mandatory for Nigeria’s independent electoral commission, the INEC, to notify the public about its actions, decisions, and plans before and after elections. The commission is supposed to be above reproach and ideally should act in the interests of the public.

An election cannot be termed democratic until the public is allowed to participate unhindered by the government armed with the knowledge that their vote will count toward deciding their own future. As such, journalists play a vital role in the democratic process by reporting on efforts by the government to limit the information the public needs. For the sake of Nigeria’s future, the government should do everything within its power to support the fourth estate.

Ghazali Ibrahim Abdulhamid is a freelance journalist and is currently studying law at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Sokoto, Nigeria. Ghazali also enjoyes writing, poetry, and reviewing books.