The first edition of the CivicTech Hackathon was recently organised by Yvote Naija (Why Should You Vote, Najia) for Nigerian innovators with viable ideas.
Receiving 30,252 applications from all the 36 states of Nigeria, the pitching finale of the CivicTech Hackathon took place on Wednesday, August 15, 2022, at Grand Pela Hotel and Suites, Abuja.
Among the 30,252 applications received, 81 viable ideas were shortlisted for the next stage, out of which seven top solutions were selected for the final pitch after receiving mentorship opportunities from experts.
The Hackathon was in partnership with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), dHub, AfriLabs, seedbuilders, alivon, Webfala Digital Skills For All Initiative, TechEconomy.Ng, Online Hub Educational Services, MALhub, and equilibrium zone.org, as well as other stakeholders.
Giving the welcome speech, Olasupo Abideen, Executive Director of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, stated the aim of the Hackathon to be bringing together young social innovators and developers between the ages of 18 and 35 to develop ideas, build skills and connect with others working towards a shared goal of strengthening the electoral process and civic participation in governance in Nigeria.
Abideen encouraged Nigerians to put in more efforts to change the current state of the country, emphasising that a great hindrance to the country’s progress is the lack of “courage to change things we can” and the leadership has not been on a great pedestal.
“The average Nigerian, youth especially, is politically numb. Years of electoral violence, vote buying, and rigging have stoked deep feelings of betrayal and mistrust in governance and election. Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the country has recorded massive voter apathy because of unhealed wounds of electoral malpractice,” he said.
“The trend has fluctuated over two decades, falling to an all-time low in the last general elections which saw only 35.66% turn out (28,614,190 cast votes out of 84,004,084 registered voters) despite the excitement that distinguished the 2019 general elections.”
He further emphasised that Nigerians have the power to cause the change they wish and yearn for, linking this to the #EndSARS protests which he said had revealed that Nigerians are capable of mobilizing both human and material resources to achieve set objectives.
“At Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative (BBYDI), we are channelling this energy into the electoral process; the only decisive tool Nigerians have to author the happy-ending story they want to read,” he explained.
At the end of the day’s pitch, the team with the most promising solution was awarded ₦2 million to execute their proposed solution.
The cash prize was disbursed at every project milestone so that the funds would be utilised effectively. As for the first and second runners-up, the Hackathon received support from NITDA to mentor, incubate and fund their respective solutions.
To make the game a win-win for all, the organisers sought to merge the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th positions with the first three if that would bring a stellar result. “We are doing this in the sole interest of the country; therefore, everyone is a winner as long as we achieve our common goal.”
Commending Yvote Naija’s efforts so far, Abideen noted that the organisation has been on its toes to make the coming general elections a different story, through partnerships with stakeholders in States such as Abuja, Ekiti, Osun and donated generously to the success of the Hackathon.
Conclusively, Abideen said the future of Nigeria lies as much in the choice of leadership we make as in our decision to either be active participants or passive wishers.
“Eminent listeners, our long walk to freedom has started and everyone should join this campaign towards liberation. We all should mobilise people to participate in elections and encourage them to cast their ballots for candidates. If everyone does the job, the job certainly gets done.”