by Aziza Uko
If I am to assess Gbenga Sesan from his work and his writing, he is an IT professional, he builds Internet driven programmes, he also styles himself as a crusader and seeks to stand out as an activist, he has a deep hatred for President Jonathan, and he is fixated on Reno Omokri, the president’s Special Assistant on New Media.
(Read ‘Sesan’s piece here.)
When it comes to this Sesan’s article on the N1.2m Facebook account story, this I can say for certain – he is beclouded by bias as is his usual predisposition towards anything that has to do with government. He ignores any information or facts that would serve to tame his rage towards this government and anything closely or remotely connected to it.
First, Gbenga Sesan insists that the writer of the original article is wrong is suggesting that budgets are prepared annually and that it would most likely mean that the N1.2m is for a 12 month engagement of the consultant on the job. But, what does Gbenga have in terms of knowledge and exposure that makes his own assumptions about this transaction superior? Nothing! Both of these men make assumptions on what they think could have been the true situation.
(Read Jideonwo’s piece here.)
Sesan also manifests a streak of dishonesty, when he opens his article by insisting that the person who prepared the budget said the money was allocated for “opening a Facebook page”. Then, he later bases the rest of his argument on the later words of the NSC boss which categorically said that the money was not for opening a Facebook account but rather for other communication activities.
(Read the Sports Commission response here.)
This is dubious, Mr Sesan. Why insist that it was for opening a Facebook account when you have access to updated information that says otherwise?
Using existing social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, et al) represents the lowest cost option and most efficient in achieving communications goals for anybody in a new communication space. Suggesting that governments start building their own platforms is just plain silly. Sesan has experience building “social media” platforms, he can tell us at who what cost they come, how popular they are, and how effective they’ve been in reaching audiences. Let him answer a simple question: Who uses the platforms you built? 100,000 people? Who uses Facebook? Over 800,000,000 and the platform is set to hit 1,000,000,000 users by August 2012. Need I say more?
Then there is double standard. How do you in one breath condemn waste and in the same vein suggest that a government body focused on other things other than technology should get involved with high-tech IT projects like building a brand new social media platform. That, my friend, is where the real government waste would start.
Ultimately, Sesan suffers from ignorance of what the tools IT professionals create actually are. Social media after creation and deployment are no longer IT tools, they become marketing tools. So, it’s not IT departments that operate marketing and communications platforms, it’s marketing and communications people. That is why pointing to the budget for the IT department in the NSC as evidence of duplication is ignorant. IT firms and indeed any firm who permits IT people to manage their online communications get it wrong ALL the time. Indeed, Microsoft once had one of the worst websites in the corporate world because they thought a website was another IT solution.
For him to just wave away the NSC’s boss’s explanation that money was budgeted for a ‘press and content’ creation team, shows the narrowness of Sesan’s understanding. An organisation can decide that its entire online communications strategy should depend on Facebook campaigns alone! Making jest of a 12 man team assigned to cover a major sporting event simply magnifies this lack of understanding.
I’m not going to spend time here trying to teach Sesan what marketing communications is. If he really wants to know, he has access to the Internet – that is if he indeed wants to learn. Of course, usually, government critics are not; only content to make sweeping “populist” statements without the right information.
The bottom-line of the above? Geez! Nigeria needs a better class of government critic.
Editor’s Note: This will be the final rejoinder on the matter – we call a truce!