Nigerians and the Internet {1}

It need not be gainsaid that the mood in Nigerian today is one of complete disenchantment with our ruling elites. Nigerians worldwide are networking like never before, and discussing issues that can move the Nation forward. They are determined to cause a bloodless revolution in their own country.

The glaring fact today is that the internet has started to influence the media and galvanise public opinion more than we realise. Worldwide, social media is replacing orthodox media as sources of news and influence.

Today, text messaging is something of a treasure trove for marketers.

Yes a battle of the cyber space is on, but so far these efforts are so disparate, unfocused and disorganised to create the necessary impact.

What we need is an organisation, a movement that should harness the creative energy and internet savvy of our youths.

Today, a lot of Nigerian young men and women are on Facebook, Yahoo groups, various Internet forums and have mobile phone; we should harness this dormant volcano by creating an Online Movement that will span the whole country.

In Iran already, Blogs and Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter emerged as vital conduits for Iranians to inform the world about protests and violence that trailed the flawed election in their country on June 12 2009.

The Web became more essential after the government barred foreign media Tuesday from leaving their offices to report on demonstrations on the streets of Tehran. It is not for nothing that Iran is famed with as a nation with the highest blogger per head in the world.

In the United States many Americans are turning to their computers and going online to find out what is happening in the world.

According to a new study from the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press, for the first time since the stats were recorded, the internet surpassed the newspaper as a source for getting news.

According to the Associated Content Technology, while the internet still lags behind the television for a news source, the fact that the internet beat the newspaper speaks to the ever evolving technical world in which we now live.

According to the study, for Americans younger than 30 years old, a staggering 59% get their news from the internet.

Today, the Internet has caught on. Despite inadequate power, many Nigerians use their Mobiles to go online.

The Internet has the potential of doing for Nigerians what the liberalisation of electronic media by the Babangida administration did for Nigeria – a flowering of ideas and the liberating the ingenuity of Nigerian news media; it became ever more difficult for government to set the news agenda.

Yes, The ‘Save Nigeria Group’, ‘EnoughisEnough’,’ IwumustGo’ and other on- the- ground Movements are trying hard but their major weakness is that they are AD HOC engagements and are localised. Such efforts are appreciated.

The fact that the nation has been sold to looters, crooks and dangerous criminals masquerading as politicians is extremely dangerous to our manhood as Nigerians. It is therefore very urgent to reclaim the country from these shenanigans.

However, the fact remains that Nigerians generally are wary of street demonstrations because many are unwilling to leave their business and day-to-day activities to carry placards around unless they are “properly mobilised”.

That is why we need to create a dynamic Movement using 21st century Solution to tackle our age-long problems, starting with the youths.

Nigerians worldwide should be ready to use 21st century tools – the sudden explosion of a new breed of phones; – Blackberry, iPhone, Google’s G1 – with increasingly sophisticated software and internet capability means that those who do have mobile phones are relying on them for an ever-broadening array of functions.

Almost every University student in Nigeria today have a mobile phone, have an email address and can access the internet .

Barack Obama’s success with online activism should have taught us that those that want change can bring change only if they plan well for it. The energy of our internet warriors are waiting to be harnessed.

Rome was not built in a day, this will take time, the effort might even take decades, but patience and hard work never disappoints.

I believe that if the aim is non-partisan, unbiased, neutral and honest, the trust of Nigerians generally would be won.

Let’s get together and brainstorm.

We already have about 12,000 registered Nigerians on our network asking: “what is your motivation and what do you intend to do with these Groups?”

Let’s get other similarly minded Nigerians to brainstorm on what we can do together.

The things we can do include: 

1.         forward and sponsor Bills to the National Assembly as private members Bills and mobilise Nigerians online to support them;

2.         design a robust engagement policy and work with members of the National and State Assemblies especially during the public hearing on targeted Bills to impute into provisions of some of the Bills issues that can strengthen the electoral process and clean up the environment for elections, etc

3.         Identify credible politicians outside the mainstream and mobilise online support for them throughout the country.

4.         Subsequently holding these politicians to account by bombarding their emails with our demands on the way forward.

5.         Influencing public opinions through a dynamic online campaign. 

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