Social Media and elections: Omojuwa is wrong! ~ Rees Chikwendu @drpoetafrica


By Rees Chikwendu

Based on this tweet, I am almost sure that Omojuwa misunderstood the intentions of the so-called “Nigerian youths” he refers to. This is why it behooves me to try to readjust his understanding in the spirit of mildness. I do not believe that Nigerian youths hold such notion that social media could oust conventional politicians – at least not most educated Nigerians that I know of. However, this is not to say that social media has no effect at all. The argument I would like to make here is the need to not underestimate the power of social media.

In an article I wrote some days ago, Why a Nigerian Revolution Should Be Expected than a Possible Break-up, I mentioned several reasons why a Nigerian revolution is more likely to happen than a possible break-up. Along the lines in the article, I pointed out that with the growing number of Nigerian youths engaging one another on social media and sharing their thoughts, there is an opportunity to form strong bonds that could lead to change in attitude of these youths; a change that could band them together. These young Nigerians in time could override their ethnic and religious differences by cognitively becoming aware of their common societal problems instead. When people become aware of common problems created by their decision makers, they would take action to solve them, potentially leading up to an uprising of some sorts.

I am convinced that in any moment of political struggle or change, media will continue to play strong role. Whether that role would amount to installing or ousting a government is something that anyone must not deride. Media and communication are intrinsic and achieve success when used effectively. If inflated, people could think and believe that social media alone foment protests and revolutions in dire situations. But any statement that equally underestimate or deny the power and the important role social media could play during a revolution is laughable. Furthermore, social media do not make a revolution: people do. What social media does is to enhance the activities of those involved in a revolution. In that sense, it can be argued that social media could be utilized to oust a government. During revolution, people use YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, mobile phone SMS messages to communicate. They also use images and live video to tell their stories. In such situation they seek for help from those outside and those that have the power to come to their rescue. This was what the world witnessed in the Arab revolutions.

Interestingly, Omojuwa is one of Nigeria’s foremost bloggers and knows the key roles people like him play in the Arab uprisings across different countries. There are millions of media activists on social media that use it to document accounts of atrocities committed during a revolution. Such activists also use these social networks to inform, mobilize, entertain, and create communities, increasing transparency, and seek to hold governments accountable. The sum of all these activities is what makes a revolution or ousting of a government. It is not a singular act that removes a government, but social media activities are inclusive to such efforts. It will be ironic for a Nigerian youth like Omojuwa who uses social media to educate the public to underestimate the power of using social media to bring social and political change.

Social media has become part of our life and the way people communicate; it will continue to shape our future in many areas, including the making of a government or its subsequent removal. Denying its viral effects and ability to circumvent repressive governments attempts to smolder communication against them would amount to large ignorance. If Nigerian youths are utilizing social media with an intention to oust politicians or a government entirely – and if said actions evoke any response – who is to say they are deluded?

Follow writer on Twitter: @drpoetafrica

PS: The writer failed to capture a follow up tweet that said “You have to maximize your strength *social media* then beat them at theirs *grassroots” ~ Omojuwa

Social Media is only one form of media, you need to plug into the conventional ones like the ones that require you to knock on people’s doors. Until then…same story

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