Nigerians head to the polls today to complete a month long series of legislative, presidential, and gubernatorial elections. Already, international and domestic election observers have, for the first time since the end of military rule in 1998, signed off on Nigeria's presidential elections, declaring them free, fair, and credible, albeit with irregularities. The elections have also marked the first time that new forms of connectivity—social media, mobile phones, and digital cameras—have given Nigerians opportunities to act as citizen observers, documenting and reporting on the electoral process. Led by civil society organizations like Enough is Enough (EIE) and ReclaimNaija, citizen observers reported a huge body of electoral observations via SMS, smart phone applications, and digital cameras, previously unavailable, and distributed widely on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.
Their impact has been threefold—contributing documentation to Nigeria's electoral record, empowering Nigeria's connected youth to participate in the democratic process, and building capacity around technologies that are increasing becoming indispensable tools for securing democracy globally.