Saturday, January 28, 2012

Media that stoked fire of masses revolution

28 January 2012

’NONYE BEN-NWANKWO describes how social media influenced the last anti-subsidy removal protests

The introduction of the Global System for Mobile communications in Nigeria in 2001 by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, no doubt, altered the face of telecommunications in the country.
While some protesters genuinely used the platforms to muster support for the common cause, many others exploited them to disparage and to cast aspersions on the present Nigerian leadership.

As a matter of fact, the likes of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum, Dr. Ngozi Okonji-Iwela and Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, respectively, and other top government functionaries, were at the receiving end of seemingly endless flak aimed at them by thousands of Nigerians via Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Instant Messaging.

The BlackBerry facility did, of course, play a key role in the dissemination of information during the crisis. Now referred to as ‘pinging,’ this form of instant messaging is common among most users of BlackBerry smart phones in Nigeria.

Angela Oyebade, who works at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, tells SATURDAY PUNCH that she got most of the information about the crisis through broadcasts on BlackBerry.

She says, “I joined a group on BlackBerry group  called ‘Occupy Nigeria’ and almost every second, somebody would broadcast messages to the forum. The forum was also a major avenue for discourse. It was through the forum that we got so many people to be a part of the protest and it was through it that we learnt about those who were killed in the crisis.”

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