Digital Technologies, Online Engagement and Parliament-Citizen Relations in Nigeria and South Africa

  • Temitayo Isaac Odeyemi
  • Tunde Abioro
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


As an institution of governance, the parliament is the soul of democratic societies. The parliament typifies the presence of the people in the running of governmental activity. It monitors the actions of public officials towards ensuring adherence to initiatives and measures that advance the people’s well-being. Relations between parliamentarians and citizens are, thus, critical on two fronts. Parliament – citizen relations are important in ensuring that elected parliamentarians are responsive to the desires of their constituents; and enable the people to hold their elected representatives accountable. In bridging communication gaps between the people and lawmakers, the Internet, social media and mobile phones, as digital technologies, have prospects in enabling the desired level of citizen engagement critical to democratic practice. This chapter explores, in comparative terms, the use of digital technologies by the national parliaments in Africa’s two largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa. It examines the extent to which digital technologies are used in facilitating parliament – citizen relations in the two countries and how this connects with citizens’ demands of accountability on national parliaments, and links between elected representatives and their constituents. The paper draws on data obtained through measurement of the online resources, especially websites and social media pages, of the parliaments. The chapter contributes to frameworks on how digital technologies can enhance parliament – citizen relations and good governance in sub-Saharan Africa.



The authors acknowledge the contributions of Omomayowa Olawale Abati to data gathering.


  1. Abah, N. and Obiajulu, A. (2017). Relevance of Legislative Oversight in the Fight against Corruption in Nigeria, Social Scientia: Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities, 2(1): 1–14.Google Scholar
  2. Adekanmbi, D. (2017, June 11). NASS has done well in 2 years, but… —Prof Obiyan. Tribune Online. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from
  3. Adeniyi, O. (2017). Image Perception of the Legislature: Causes and Possible Solutions. Paper presented at the House of Representatives by the Chairman of THISDAY Editorial Board, as Guest Speaker at the Second Anniversary of the 8th National Assembly, 9th June. <>
  4. Aiko, R. Akinocho, H. and Lekorwe, M. (2016). Job performance of MPs, local councillors: Are representatives serving voters or themselves? Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 115, 15 September.Google Scholar
  5. Ameh, J. (2016, June 5). National Assembly: One year, many yells. The Punch. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from
  6. Azevedo-Harman, E. (2011) Parliaments in Africa: Representative Institutions in the Land of the ‘Big Man’. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 17(1): 65–85.
  7. Azevedo-Harman, E. (2012). Parliaments and Citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(3–4): 419–440. Scholar
  8. Banjo, A. (2013). Leadership crisis in the parliament of Nigeria: The case of the Senate in the Fourth Republic. Journal of African Studies and Development, 5(6): 135–144. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barkan, J. D. (2009). African Legislatures and the “Third Wave” of Democratization. In J. D. Barkan (Ed.), Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies (pp. 1–32). Boulder, CO, USA: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Barkan, J., Mattes, R., Mozaffar, S. and Smiddy, K. (2010). The African Legislatures Project: First Findings. CSSR Working Paper 277. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from
  11. Bernardes, C. B. and Leston-Bandeira, C. (2016). Information vs Engagement in parliamentary websites – a case study of Brazil and the UK. Rev. Sociol. Polit., 24(59): 91–107. Scholar
  12. Bravo, R. B. and Del Valle, M. E. (2017). Opinion leadership in parliamentary Twitter networks: A matter of layers of interaction? Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 14(3):263–276, CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark, N. (2012). Foreword: UNDP. In G. Power and R. A. Shoot, Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation (p.2). Geneva and New York: United Nations Development Programme and Inter-parliamentary Union.Google Scholar
  14. Coleman, S. (2004). Connecting Parliament to the Public via the Internet. Information, Communication & Society, 7(1), 1–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diamond, L. (2010). Liberation Technology. Journal of Democracy 21(3): 69–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Economic Commission for Africa. (2012). The Role of Parliament in Promoting Good Governance. ECA: Governance and Public Administration Division (GPAD).Google Scholar
  17. Edet, J. and Amadu, J. (2014). The Legislature and National Development: The Nigeria Experience. Global Journal of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(9).Google Scholar
  18. Fagbadebo, O. and Francis, S. (2016). Power Relations among Institutions of Government in Nigeria Presidential System: Issues and Contentions. International Journal of Politics and Good Governance, VII (7-1), 1–22.Google Scholar
  19. Federal Republic of Nigeria. (1999). Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Lagos: Government Printer.Google Scholar
  20. Friedman, S. (2012). Debate: Fiercely (In-)dependent: South Africa’s Parliament. In. Do parliaments matter? African Legislatures and the Advance of Democracy. Cape Town, South Africa: Heinrich Böll Foundation.Google Scholar
  21. Gidado, T. O. (2018). Internal Democracy and Leadership Crisis in the Nigerian Legislature. In A. Adeniran and L. Ikuteyijo (eds.), Africa Now! Emerging Issues and Alternative Perspectives (pp. 167–187). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Griffith, J. and Leston-Bandeira, C. (2012). How Are Parliaments Using New Media to Engage with Citizens? The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(3–4): 496–513. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gyimah-Boadi, E. and Attoh, D. A. (2009). Are Democratic Citizens Emerging in Africa? Evidence from the Afrobarometer. Afrobarometer Briefing Paper No. 70, May.Google Scholar
  24. Hamalai L., Dan Azumi, J., Omotola, S. (2016). Resource Competence and Legislative Performance in the Nigeria National Assembly. Occasional Paper Series, October. Abuja, Nigeria: National Institute for Legislative Studies.Google Scholar
  25. International Telecommunication Union. (2016). Measuring the Information Society Report. Geneva: ITU.Google Scholar
  26. Inter-Parliamentary Union. (2009). Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites. Geneva, Switzerland: IPU and UNDESA.Google Scholar
  27. Inter-Parliamentary Union. (2016). World e-Parliament Report 2016. Geneva, Switzerland: IPU.Google Scholar
  28. Joshi, D. and Rosenfield, E. (2013). MP Transparency, Communication Links and Social Media: A Comparative Assessment of 184 Parliamentary Websites. The Journal of Legislative Studies.
  29. Katz, R. S. and Wessels, B. eds. (2013). The European Parliament, the National Parliaments, and European Integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Leston-Bandeira, C. (2012). Studying the Relationship between Parliament and Citizens. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(3–4): 265–274. Scholar
  31. Leston-Bandeira, C. and Bender, D. (2013). How deeply are parliaments engaging on social science? Information Polity, 8(4): 281–287.
  32. Mandelbaum, A. (2011). Strengthening Parliamentary Accountability, Citizen Engagement and Access to Information: A Global survey of Parliamentary Monitoring Organisation. National Democratic Institute and World Bank Institute.Google Scholar
  33. Mattes, R. (2012). Debate: Do Parliaments Matter? African Legislatures: A Glass Half Full? In Do parliaments matter? African Legislatures and the Advance of Democracy. Cape Town, South Africa: Heinrich Böll Foundation.Google Scholar
  34. Maurice, O. U., Kanayo, O. and Nancy, S. (2014). A Comparative Analysis of the Interplay of Administrative and Political Structures of the Legislature in the Legislative Procedures of Selected Federal Systems. Journal of Social Sciences, 41(1): 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Norton, P. (2007). Four Models of Political Representation: British MPs and the Use of ICT. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 13(3): 354–369. Scholar
  36. Norton, P. (2012). Parliament and Citizens in the United Kingdom. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 18(3–4): 403–418. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Odeyemi, T. I. and Mosunmola, O. O. (2015). Stakeholders, ICT Platforms and the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria. Paper presented at a Two-Day National Conference on the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria organised by the Electoral Institute, Independent National Electoral Commission, July 27 – 28.Google Scholar
  38. Odeyemi, T. I. and Obiyan, A. S. (2018). Digital policing technologies and democratic policing: Will the internet, social media and mobile phone enhance police accountability and police–citizen relations in Nigeria? International Journal of Police Science & Management.
  39. Ogunnubi, O. and Isike, C. (2015). Regional Hegemonic Contention and the Asymmetry of Soft Power: A Comparative Analysis of South Africa and Nigeria. Strategic Review for Southern Africa, 37(1): 152–177.Google Scholar
  40. Olasina, G. and Mutula, S. (2015). The influence of national culture on the performance expectancy of e-parliament adoption. Behaviour & Information Technology.
  41. Oni, A. A. and Oni, S. (2014). E-parliament and Democratic Representation in African States: Prospects and Challenges. International Journal of Computers and Technology, 13(6): 4566–4573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Power, G. and Shoot, R. (2012). Global Parliamentary Report: The Changing Nature of Parliamentary Representation. Geneva and New York: United Nations Development Programme and Inter-parliamentary Union.Google Scholar
  43. Prentice, B. (2006). Foreword. In R. Ferguson, Digital Dialogues (p.7). London: Hansard Society.Google Scholar
  44. Rehfeld, A (2005) The Concept of Constituency: Political Representation, Democratic Legitimacy, and Institutional Design. New York, Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Republic of South Africa. (1996). Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996). Pretoria: Government Publications.Google Scholar
  46. Schrire, R. A. (2008). Parliamentary Opposition after Apartheid: South Africa. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 14(1/2): 190–211. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sebola, M. P. (2017). Communication in the South African Public Participation Process: The Effectiveness of Communication Tools. African Journal of Public Affairs, (6): 25–35.Google Scholar
  48. Seedat, S. and Naidoo L. (2015). The South Africa Parliament in 2015. A Paper Commissioned by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC)Google Scholar
  49. Shenga, C. (2014). The Mozambique Legislature in Comparative Perspective: Legislative Development, Performance and Legitimacy. Thesis Presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town, November.Google Scholar
  50. Shuenyane, T. (2017, July 26). South Africa and Nigeria Parliaments advancing Representative Democracy. Issued By the Spokesperson to the Chairperson of the NCOP, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. Retrieved October 15, 2017, from
  51. Soultanian, V. S. G. (2013). To What Extent Can Electronic Parliament Be Applied in Jordan? European Scientific Journal, 9(1):1857–7431.Google Scholar
  52. Stapenhurst, R., Jacobs, K. and Olaore, O. (2016). Legislative oversight in Nigeria: an empirical review and assessment. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 22(1): 1–29. Scholar
  53. United Nations. (2016). United Nations E-Government Survey 2016: E-Government in Support of Sustainable Development. New York: UNDESA.Google Scholar
  54. Westhuizen, C. (2014). Working Democracy – Perspectives on South African Parliament at 20 years. Cape Town: Open Society Foundation of South Africa.Google Scholar
  55. Williamson, A., Korns, M., and Fallon, F. (2011). Connecting Citizens to Paramount: How Parliament can engage more effectively with Hard to Reach Groups. London: Hansard Society.Google Scholar
  56. World Bank. (2016). Digital Dividends: World Development Report. Washington DC: Author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Temitayo Isaac Odeyemi
    • 1
  • Tunde Abioro
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceObafemi Awolowo UniversityIle-IfeNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Local Government StudiesObafemi Awolowo UniversityIle-IfeNigeria

Personalised recommendations