This post has been updated
The 2015 general elections in Nigeria will forever remain a case in point whenever the role of social media in governance is being mentioned in Nigeria and probably the world over.
Nigeria had the highest civil participation during the last election. Even citizens who were hitherto not interested in politics couldn’t help being carried along by the wave of engagement on social media. From the period of campaign, through the process of registration and collection of the voters card, to voting and defending ballot boxes and even as far as posting pictures of polling unit results online, social media was there every step serving as a tool to promote transparency.
The relative lack of electoral violence can also be attributed to this transparency made possible by social media. So one will not be far from the truth if they said that social media was the tool that elected our leaders.
The surprise however came after the elections when the same beneficiaries of social media turned around and decided to pass a bill to regulate the same vehicle that drove them to power.
Social media week reached a climax when on the final day, 26th of February 2016, the senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki graced the event ‘Governance and Social Media: Did You Say Change?’
The youths of Nigeria who are known to be outspoken as regards issues relating to governance were obviously pleased for a chance to have a physical session with the senate president. This was evidenced by the very full hall.
This session was moderated by Ebuka Obi Uchendu, the host of Rubbing Minds.
Dr Bukola Saraki acknowledging the role of social media in achieving transparency in governance stated that all electorates must groom themselves to be more involved with their community. More participation by the electorates on social media will keep them accountable and help them stay abreast of events in their community. He urged them to adjust themselves to be in tune with the present day technology, in line with the changing trend.
He went further to say that the present government cannot overlook the role social media played in bringing them to power.
The event certainly would have been incomplete without mention of the Anti- Social Media Bill. On this issue, Dr Saraki applauded Nigerians for their effort at ensuring transparent government and reassured that the proposed bill will never see the light of day.
He had the audience cheering by stating that he understands how citizens feel about the salary the senators receive and defended that his salary is not determined by him. “If I were like you on the other side I will feel the same way… You think like that because you feel we do not add value to your lives but I assure you that we will add value during this tenure and at the end will boldly show our report card… For a change you have one of yours in government, I was one of you, working in the private sector. You may not get a chance like this again so make the best use of this. ” He concluded.
In all it was a very lively session that left the audience invigorated and they gathered in clusters to debate afterwards.