Learner’s Submission: Social Media Channels Used by Government of Nigeria

” Social media is undoubtedly a means at which the whole world is connected within the framework of varied degrees of interrelations. As such one can succinctly state that the social media is a platform that keeps Peoples, Nations and entities in close and continuous reach. The social media is a growing phenomenon with a rising rate at an astronomical level in Nigeria. As a country the awareness was relatively slow in its advent on the exploration of the social media network. Needless to state that the social media was already in vogue in the United Kingdom, Europe and America before Nigeria cut wind of the trend. Having this assertions in mind the fact remains that a plethora of events paved the course of technological change in Nigeria.

On May 29th 1999, Nigeria witnessed another beginning of a democratically elected government with General Olusegun Obasanjo emerging as the president of the country. Prior to this time the country had witnessed series of military coup d’état and toppling of governments from the early 1960s up to 1999 that bedeviled the nation and plunged it reins into backwardness. This administration ushered in a transformation that saw the fortunes of the country gradually returning as there was a rise in foreign relations with the developed nations as well as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI’s) which paved the way for global advancements in international politics, economy and socio-cultural growth.

The rise in the popularity of Social Media network like Twitter, Facebook, My space, Tango Eskimi, Instagram, Linked In just to mention a few and its perceived “status” overture paved the way for the tremendous socio cultural, political and economic gains the country has witnessed in recent times. Undoubtedly the government of Nigeria particularly the political groupings, have seen the great potentialities in the use of the Social Media with which they use as a platform to solicit for votes as well as projecting propaganda messages online to the teeming population of users both home and abroad.

Another twist to this trend is the trajectory the country’s Armed forces like the Nigeria Army, Navy and Air force as well as Paramilitary agencies like the Police, Customs, Immigrations have all used, in which the use of the Social Media platform to exhibit their strides  in the carrying out their respective duties have held sway. Citing the case of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) as a Paramilitary Organization that has a Facebook, You Tube and Twitter account in which they use as a platform to inform the general public on new trends in domestic crime as well as its giant strides in the fight against crime in the nation. The NPF also post videos on trainings online to enable members of the public access to some of its train the trainers courses which is aimed at improving the security awareness of the citizens of the country amongst other things.  More so, the current administration of Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan is a clear example of the use of Social Media in the involvement of politics. The President hired a robust group of young I.T specialist who manage his online account particularly Facebook and which have almost on a periodic basis updated  his Facebook account with detailed information regarding his administration ranging from road constructions, Government projects as well as speeches he delivers on a broad section of issues.

One would want to ponder on the recent general elections of 2015 and the role the social media played particularly Facebook and twitter in the determination of who would eventually win the presidential elections which was a highly debated and controversial issue owing the personalities, alliances and political groupings of the parties involved. From the onset the campaign team of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) predominantly the two major political parties in the country saw the need to create a robust channel of online messages, jingles and all what not on the internet presumably to convince the populace on the need to elect the right candidate for the job. The twist thereafter came when the APC team spearheaded by a former military Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari GCFR was gaining prominence online with a great amount of people roaring the word CHANGE, a word the opposition used all the way to the day of election which finally saw the APC winning the 2015 presidential elections. The case in point however, is that the opposition clearly had a upper hand because they used the internet to reach a wider base of people, the message spread and even for those who couldn’t use the internet the messages where still passed by those who had access to the internet. The word was CHANGE and it was on every ones lips, even the under-aged could bolster the word.  The change of government is of course imminent  as we await May 29th 2015 for the swearing-in ceremony and hand over of power, it is now left for the opposition to live up to its election promise and parlance which saw them winning the elections in the first place. Whether change would come to eventually reign in the lives of the average Nigerian citizen and the country, time would tell.

Conclusively, there has been an official stance by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigerian agency saddled with the task of the sale of waning government properties, to draw up possible regulations for the use of social media in Nigeria. The agency’s Director-General, Benjamin Ezra Dikki has clamored for a review of the autonomy of the use of the social media and the inability of the government to place heavy restrictions on the use. Prior to this time, the Nigerian government had contemplated social media regulations but the motion did not see the light of day as there were series of backlashes. It is uncertain if these clamors for social media regulations would really stand the test of time because even the current President, Goodluck Jonathan has a social media public relations team and the incoming President elect too have used the Social Media platform instrumentally.

To this end, one can draw a conclusion that the Nigerian government and the country as a whole believe in the very essence of the Social Media as a tool to share ideas, information as well as staying connected to one another for the greater good of the nation.” – Olufemi Fajemirokun – Lagos, Nigeria

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