Opinion: Social media – Let’s help President GEJ

by Femi Owolabi

“My life has always been about service. I am focused on serving my Creator, family and my country to the best of my ability and with your HELP I aim to be better at doing that.” President G. Jonathan (My Friends and I. 2010)

Nigerians have been waiting in the forlorn hope that one day Nigeria will be better. But unfortunately, the solution to the problem of a laboriously developing Nigeria is proving elusive in the extreme. The intransigent attitude of our past and present leaders has for a long time, plagued the country with a political-leukemia, and as it is now – it could only be healed by a divine surgery. And like the saying, the sweetness of a Sunday is sensed from its Saturday. Then, if tomorrow is the future, no thinking-Nigerian should rest in proffering ways to secure the future.

The governments at all levels have shown a lamentable lack of good governance. All they do is to deceive us by lavishing our monies on red-tapism, nonetheless, it’s surprising that Nigerians have been able to tolerate the intolerable. Once, a Nigerian barked and rebuked a #140 and #97/litre fuel, but he now buys same fuel for same prices. The former for the black market.

It is rather ironical that a government that promised an agenda to transform has only oscillated between failure and nothingness. Sadly, the president doesn’t even give a damn. And of course he suffers or his name suffers the opprobrious reactions that ensue. Unarguably, he achieved his notoriety in the January 2012 fuel-subsidy-removal-remonstrance. There is this video cartoon where Mark Zuckerberg calls President Jonathan – disrespectfully telling him to take his page off facebook, because the curses on his page are melting their services. Sad. But I had a good laugh – in my wife’s dialect (Ijaw).
I was also recently told that Google now has President Jonathan as the most cursed president. A joke, I had imagined, until I asked Google ‘who is the most cursed president?” My head dropped in disbelief. I would only wish that Omokri, Abati, and now Okupe do something to clear this nonsense off the cache. Besides, albeit from a spiritual perspective – how do we expect the president to do well under all these curses?

In the song of Dr. Elemure the popular Ekiti legendary musician, he said, “kekere ure, uree ya mi j’epe” I prefer the minutest prayer to a curse. I also Googled the world worst president and Jonathan’s name didn’t appear on the first and second pages. Dear Nigerians, is criticism now about showering curses on the President?

The new technology called social media has ignited a global transformation. And for Nigeria, it is a digital reawakening of democracy. More than democracy, I accepted with shock, a facebook friend request from my retired- mother, a long time ago.

In 2010, Joe Trippi, a long-time U.S. Democratic campaign worker and the author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything, wrote a foreword to Goodluck Jonathan’s My Friends and I (a compilation of his conversations on policy and governance via facebook).

This statement of his here, builds the verisimilitude further, “Facebook will not fix all of Nigeria’s problems. It won’t pull 70% of Nigeria out of poverty. It won’t eliminate corruption or placate extremists. But underestimating the power of Facebook and other peer-to-peer technologies, like mobile networks, email, and online communities, would be an enormous mistake.”

Also, in the introductory note of the same book, President Jonathan made this confession. “Many may not understand why I decided to open a Facebook account. The president is too busy to have time for Facebook, many will say. For one, I would say I was motivated in no little way by President Barack Obama of the United States. His novel use of social media network, especially Facebook, starting from during his presidential campaign, has stimulated new thinking on participatory governance across the world. I have observed, with deep satisfaction, that this is a very important tool in bridging the gap between the state and the society as we strive to develop our democracy and make it more participatory.

We define democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. A major problem of democracy today is the absence of a sense of belonging by the citizenry. Many citizens believe they are only of importance to politicians at election times. After that, nobody cares about them any more. With Facebook, this gap is being bridged. It is one tool of social media that allows for interaction between the government and the governed. Opinions on issues, policy and governance can be expressed in an unedited, uncensored way by the citizens. The access is unlimited. While you used to wonder if your letter would ever get to the president, such doubts are eliminated through Facebook.”

Today, what has President Jonathan’s Facebook page become? A place for dumping insults, curses, and every other nonsensical commentaries. One wonders when last the president even posted on his page. After May 29, his recent post was on July 20th (I stand to be corrected) where he enjoined Muslims to pray for Nigeria, during the Ramadan – unlike before, when he posts almost everyday.

Since governance has been thrown to catholicity on social media, it is unfortunate that critic’s reasoning have been monopolized in a humdrum routine. Another headline from a regular GEJ critic (especially these twitter people) ends in the same circumlocution. GEJ is clueless. GEJ is BokoHaram. GEJ is this, GEJ is that. Stale!

I am also a critic of the present GEJ government. And whether it is an obvious fallacy, I still think Nigeria is laboriously developing.

Staying up at nights, reading articles from these co-critics- I have keenly observed the paradox, as these embittered writers enthusiastically drift off the objectivity. This has disengaged me from reading articles that un-diplomatically insults President GEJ. There must be code of conduct in public intellectualism!

This is not even about Jonathan, it is about our dear country. Let critics come up with a framework and sell to the government- or should we wait till 2015 when all may have skata-skata? Let intellectualism via social media be harnessed genuinely towards national development.


*Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (6)

  1. I think you have a very positive and impacting article here. Insulting and cursing GEJ is never going to takes us any where but supporting him in our own little ways through the use of social media and other related technologies will surely help.

  2. Mtchewww. How can we help someone who didn't help himself.

  3. I appreciate both your thought and corrective write-up. I believe that proper words with good mannerism need to be cultivated amongst the citizens. Obviously we cannot deny the pain and daily agony that has plagued this country due to lack of good governance. Bombing, rapping, robbing and kidnapping have been the normal occurrences that we are now used to. Social media has been the solely bridge between the government and the community by which individual canvass his concerns to the government. I encourage we make good use of this medium to foster transparency and accessibility in our system.

  4. Good & forward thinking write-up. I also have been frustrated at the level of insolence and down right destructive attitude we have come to adopt on social media. Nothing constructive, just tribal, religious and emotional sentiments displayed daily on different fora. I stopped reading comments generally but only focused on constructive, objective & sensible contributions.

  5. I agree with you and for good measure, I even have a solution.


  6. Mr President deserve all our help and support. The system around him is the problem. Even when best hands come around to even suggest and leave, they will either ask you to bring N100Million bribe or they ll fence you or they will turn deaf ears to it. The Ministers are all due to go except Petroleum, Agric, Energy, Culture, Finance. The next FCT Minister should replicate El- Rufai programmes to the letter.. Pls call back prof Soludo we need him. Late Prof Aluko adviced that you should not play politics with every thing. Base the next appoint on merit and targets.If they will listen God will help us. Why should Banks be retrenching trained hands and the CBN revoking lisences of PMI? Pls talk to Consultants Pls and pls.

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