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The way forward: Building awareness and enlightenment through social media?

How To Trigger Brand Mentions On Social Media

In the last one week, Nigeria has seen the widespread looting of businesses asides government-related properties across the states, especially after the killings of innocent protesters by men in the military uniform on Tuesday, October 20 2020. This was quickly followed by the discoveries of COVID-19 palliatives in strategic warehouses of different locations within the country.
In response to these many happenings, particularly triggered by Black Tuesday, many persons, celebrities and organisations have explicitly stated the need for social awareness and enlightenment in mitigating the massive chaos for a united and better Nigeria. This includes the masterclass on ‘Understanding the Principles of Governance’, organised by a data-analytical company called ‘DataLeum’ held over the weekend on October 24th & 25th 2020. The online class focused on educating Nigerians about the current situation of the Nigerian economy, Nigeria’s constitution and basic rights as citizens.

This is asides numerous other forms of social media enlightenment from influencers such as the Feminist Coalition, Reno Omokri, an activist, author and humanitarian; FEMBOL Group, a logistics and procurement management company; Runcie C.W. Chidebe, a researcher and curator; Yvonne Okwara-Matole, a Bloomberg ALI Media fellow, facilitator and moderator; Sam Adeyemi, a leadership consultant; and Tunde Omotoye, a co-founder of Human squad in Toronto, Ontario and IELTS ambassador.
Other celebrities and influencers who have given their voices to support social media enlightenment in view of the #EndSARS protests include Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz, popular Nigerian musician Simi Kosoko; Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, a network of young Nigerians promoting good governance and citizen engagement; MassiveMac, a software designer, entrepreneur and brand influencer. These social media awareness activities have been reported by international and national mediums such as Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Reuters, Nairametrics, Quartz media and so on.

Read Also: The social media challenge and the season of anomie

The Feminist Coalition, a not-for-profit organization and one of the leading supporters of the #EndSARS campaign publicly decided on October 23 2020 to stop receiving funds in favour of the #EndSARS protest. This decision was spurred following the President’s address to the nation on October 22, 2020. The organisation revealed that it has received a total amount of N147.85 million including donations in USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, GHS, KES and BTC. From this amount, N60.4 million has been disbursed to support the 2-weeks #EndSARS protest, leaving N87.45 million which they plan to use in funding medical emergencies, relief for victims of police brutality and families of the deceased as well as legal aid for wrongfully detained citizens.
Despite efforts to use the social media as an amplifier of democracy, the government has consistently seen the social media as a form of threat.

This is evidenced in the Anti-social bill that was introduced by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on November 5 2019 after it passed its second hearing to criminalise the usage of social media in disbursing false or malicious information. The bill was originally titled ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill’. Senator Mohammed Sani Musa who is highly conservative from Northern Nigeria sponsored this bill.
Although this bill has received a lot of controversy in terms of opposition by mostly human rights activists and civil societies such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, few politicians like Akwa Ibom’s state senator, Akon Eyakenyi, it also got support from President Buhari, his wife and daughter alongside many other senators.

More recently, on Thursday, October 29 2020, in response to the lootings that went rogue in the wake of #EndSARS protests, Desmond Elliot, a popular veteran actor and movie director, turned Politician and member of the Lagos House of Assembly for Surulere constituency has gone viral in a video during the plenary session of the House for openly blaming the huge carnage in Nigeria upon social media.

Elliot, who claimed to be overwrought by his emotions and distraught by the massive destruction wrecked upon members of his constituent that lost their source of livelihood within the blink of an eye, referred to the younger generation as ‘children’ who rebelled against their elders. His words have caused a lot of backlash from Nigerians on social media who expressed their disappointment over Elliot’s hate statement for belittling the youths and the recent deaths of innocent civilians. Eventually, Elliot tendered his apology and tried to explain the reasons for his actions.

Additionally, a Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution for victims of police brutality in Nigeria, presided over by Justice Doris Okuwobi officially commenced its sittings on Monday, October 26 2020. This panel has been openly supported by President Buhari and the Lagos state government. Lots of eye-opening revelations have been made by victims.

In Abunike’s story, his boss accused him of fraud in 2012, for which he was arrested by police and taken to the Ojo Police Station where he was beaten, paraded like a thief around Alaba International Market, removed two of his teeth, spent 47 days, beat his wife and mother when they came to visit and sold all his properties including houses, cars, phones and generator.
Abunike was eventually able to file a lawsuit against SARS at the Federal High Court Lagos before Justice Ibrahim Buba, who ruled N10m as damages in his favour but efforts to get this money has been futile and only his land document has been recovered while his other belongings remain amiss despite not being found guilty.

The story of Abunike gives insight to the long years of suffering police brutality, the desire for social media awareness and the diverse opposition of social media by many politicians. This fight against transparency and accountability in the Nigerian system and social media awareness is further evidenced by the oath of secrecy included in the proceedings of the Judicial Panel, for which Majekodunmi Temitope Oluwaseun and Oduala Balatito Olorunrinu, the Lagos representatives out of the 9-man panel refused to sign on that Monday of October 26.
To cap this up, a call for respect of the legal and fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens has been released by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on October 29 2020 in respect of the illegal detention of suspects in the looting and destruction of public buildings and private businesses