• Monday, April 15, 2024
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Beyond the pitch, a Twitter battle royale erupts

Beyond the pitch, a twitter battle royale erupts

The excitement of the African Cup of Nations did not end with the crowd’s roar in Abidjan. As the Super Eagles battled on the field, another fierce competition unfolded alongside it as the Nigerian Twitter community engaged in spirited conversations with their counterparts from other African countries. Ghana and South Africa were key rivals, quite possibly because they could communicate better by being English-speaking countries.

Often humorous but sometimes heated, these exchanges reflect a blend of national pride, football fanaticism, and cultural identity. Nigerians often assert their country’s greatness despite enduring challenges like inconsistent electricity supply, infrastructural issues, governance challenges, and high poverty rates. Comments highlighting these struggles can pierce the national pride displayed online.

Nigerians, with over 60% of the population under 30, have a strong presence on social media platforms like Twitter. Their wit and intensity make them a popular choice for engagement, but they also have elements of defeat in their success.

Nigerians often struggle with self-reflection and acknowledge painful truths, viewing them as personal attacks rather than opportunities for improvement. This reluctance hinders progress, as anger-laden reflection externalises responsibility and seeks blame, perpetuating conflict and hindering progress.

While some online comments might be malicious, others stem from genuine concern or a desire to see Nigeria reach its full potential. Understandably, people struggle to accept barbs amid an intense argument and simply submit. Still, it would help if we at least learn to consider later some of the absurd things we get talked down on by other Africans.

Things as basic as ensuring a steady electricity supply have proven to be beyond Nigeria’s ruling class over the past 50 years. Also, despite carrying an air of superiority, Nigeria is poorer than many African countries. Hence, stopping to reflect on our true standing is crucial. That is the only way Nigerians can take ownership of their lives, learn from mistakes, and actively seek solutions.

Critics of Nigerians should consider their communication strategies, focusing on engaging narratives that resonate with their aspirations and emotions. A compelling vision that resonates across societal tiers fosters emotional connections, and encourages citizen engagement is essential for effective communication and bridging the emotional gap.

Visual communication plays a crucial role in conveying a compelling vision. Humans process images faster and more effectively than text, making visual content a powerful tool for igniting emotions and fostering engagement. A detailed, achievable future vision communicated through multiple channels can inspire hope and encourage citizen participation in shaping Nigeria’s destiny.

Addressing cynicism among politicians requires demonstrating that Nigeria’s challenges are surmountable and inspiring hope for a brighter future. By effectively communicating the roadmap to progress and inclusive engagement, even the most disillusioned citizens can be encouraged to participate in nation-building efforts.

Boko Haram and IPOB have effectively used emotional messaging to exploit societal anxieties and frustrations, weaving them into narratives of power, identity, and belonging. While their actions are destructive, their methods highlight the importance of responsibly wielding power. Instead of demonising Nigerians for responding to emotional appeals, focus on crafting messages that resonate with their aspirations for a better Nigeria.

It is essential to avoid simply making bland statements and instead connect with the emotions that drive harmful movements. By creating a message that resonates with people emotionally and is based on a shared vision of a better Nigeria, we can challenge harmful narratives and provide a more optimistic alternative.

Nigeria’s diverse ethnic and religious identities, polarising the last election, can be leveraged as a strength by fostering subunit visions at ethnic and regional levels. This creates a mosaic of local narratives, contributing to a richer, more inclusive national vision, and fostering a sense of ownership and belonging.

The narrative presents a vision for Nigeria that addresses security, education, healthcare, and economic opportunity, highlighting the need for a tangible, visual approach to resonate with Nigerians. It also acknowledges the cynicism of some politicians, who prioritise personal gain over collective progress, and the potential for a genuine and achievable vision.

However, we can counter this narrative by presenting a roadmap to a brighter future. By demonstrating that Nigeria’s challenges are surmountable, we can inspire hope and encourage even the most disillusioned citizens to participate in shaping a better tomorrow. This vision must be effectively communicated through various channels, from town hall meetings to social media campaigns, and must be inclusive of diverse communities’ needs and concerns.

By ensuring everyone feels heard and represented, we can cultivate a sense of ownership and empower individuals to participate actively in the journey towards progress.

Nwanze is a partner at SBM Intelligence