The Social Media Question in Nigeria

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1st December, 2018.

For some time now, the usage of the social media has received nothing but serious bashings from virtually all quarters of the society in Nigeria ranging from the government to the news media.

All of that simply because some disgruntled and mal-educated section of the society has decided to use that platform negatively.

Unfortunately for the Nigerian government, this situation has arisen because of its own negligence of its duties to the electorate. Yes, this is one line of argument it hates to hear but then the truth has to be told.

It is not the average Nigerian’s fault that many of the people who are supposed to be advising the government correctly in this area are actually not qualified to be occupying the offices they are presently located in.

Going straight to the point, is it by accident that Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft company came to Nigeria and some months later, Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook followed suit? Has the government pondered on why those two internet gurus visited Nigeria?

Bill Gates made some recommendations before leaving the country. Has the Federal Government been able to properly scrutinize those recommendations, talk less of implementing them? If not, why is that so?

For the information of all those lambasting the use of the social media and the internet generally in Nigeria, a good portion of our citizens are making a living legitimately on the internet and therefore not depending on the government for employment. I am sure that this is news to many so-called educated government officials in charge of information and communications.

The Linda Ikejis and Seuns of the Nairaland fame just to mention two of many, are Nigerians who are not only self-employed courtesy of correct usage of the social media and the internet, but also have a good number of people working under them who would otherwise have been on the street begging for jobs that are non-existent.

The bottom line here is that the fact that some youth do 419 and fake news stuff on the internet is as a result of the failure of the responsible arm of government to properly channel the energy of that portion of the population to a more progressive and legal use of the social media and the internet.

For an example, India has a lot of programmers who are making money legally from their knowledge on the internet and many are legally employed on that basis by United States firms. Nigeria has no less qualified personnel in that area of the internet. The difference is the support the government gives to the people involved.

Is the federal government of Nigeria aware that many innocent Nigerians who wish to do legal business on the internet cannot do so because the name Nigeria is tainted and therefore blocked from many profitable and very necessary websites such as Clickbank, Amazon, Paypal and a whole lot more?

Does the federal government realize that it is one of its duties to solve such problems with the corresponding nations so as to give opportunities to the innocent ones to do business legally on the internet?

Does the government realize that such a move can reduce the unemployment rate in Nigeria by some 50%?

Does the federal government realize that many of those doing Yahoo, Yahoo on the internet would prefer to do a more legal form of business if given the opportunity to do so? I do not hold brief for their negative acts but the fact remains that some of them are forced into that situation by the absence of a more legal option of making money.

Does the federal government realize that the Ministry of information and communications together with that of technology are supposed to be creating such legal opportunities for self-employment for our youth by training them in the act of making money legally on the internet and ensuring that they have level playing grounds with citizens of other nations in that regard?

If Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were able to see the ingenuity of Nigerian internet users all the way from their base in the United States and had to come to Nigeria to see things for themselves, doesn’t that tell the federal government that there is something they are missing?

The fact remains that with the right people in place at the Ministries of Information, Communication and Technology, most Nigerian Youth will not need government employment and will equally not have time to post rubbish and negative stuff on the internet because they will be busy making money legitimately on the internet instead.

Can anyone in his or her right senses imagine Linda Ikeji, Seun, Laila or any of the other progressive and rich Nigerian bloggers having the time to post rubbish stuff on the internet?

I just hope someone in government learns one or two things from this post and realize that the way forward is not in the daily criticisms of the mis-led youth using the internet and social media wrongly.

The way forward is how to henceforth channel their energies into productive use of the internet and social media in such a way that it will benefit them, their relations and the country at large on the short and long run. To achieve this, we need to get the right people into the right offices and give them the right targets.

The same thing applies to the growing population of our youth using drugs. Those who are responsible for getting them occupied with tangible and responsible engagements have failed the nation and they are the ones to blame.

An idle brain has always been the “devil’s workshop”.

God Bless Nigeria.

Kingsley Okpoh, CEO, Uneekomunikations.