Social Media: A New Tool for Checks and Balances By Lanre Olagunju

It has become evidently clear that new media is gradually redefining how we live. It has affected almost every facet of our activities. Just think of one aspect and before you think too long you’d have been able to place how the internet with the help of new media has brought about some significant improvement. These days people don’t say where is my money anymore, they say where is my alert. How funny!


In terms of political awareness, new media has become a tool that enhances citizen’s participation in political and social-economic matters. In fact it has greatly helped in redefining and explaining what accountability is to political leaders in Africa. The “Go and Die” saga is the latest medal social media got for itself and the people of Nigeria. There’s clearly no doubt about it that if someone had not taken the initiative to take the video and upload it on social media the case wouldn’t have become topical in the first place. But the most important part of the issue is that a state governor’s action of telling a pleading widow to “Go and Die”; which would have passed as normal on a regular day became a national issue of discuss via social media.


Twitter, which I think played the most important role in the “Go and Die” saga can be likened to a mob stage, and reactions from the mob necessarily might not enjoy adequate balance. I’m saying this because I support Governor Oshiomole’s stands in the first place. Why should we have people sell on the road and then constitute huge nuisance to every road user? Why should we legalize lawlessness on the basis of sentiments and baseless ideals? But where the governor erred was in his use of insensitive words, which I deeply think is a deep reflection of how our political leaders think and I actually think it’s also a reflection of how we think as Africans.


Social media might won’t change all our wrong ideologies and faulty idiosyncrasies, but as a tool it will first reflect our true self to us, then help us channel discussions on how we can change and amend our ways if we truly want to experience change anyway. New media will strike the bad and corrupt leader and it will also help teach how a good leader can add human face to true leadership, which is a main big cultural challenge among Africans. It’s not enough to have good intentions as a leader and then think the end will always justify the means. There has to be a human face and pinch of sensitivity to leadership, else we build monsters and tyrant. You don’t say terribly things to people because you are doing the right thing or because you are doing your job. This might be difficult to teach to an average Nigerian.


The truth be told, some of us including me, probably would have done the same thing Gov. Oshiomole did, including many of the major social media users who ensured the widow’s case tipped. It might be out of anger, but then on a deeper level it has to do with how we are as a people. You know over here in Africa things are not working, things are very hard, and that’s why we have to work hard, talk and scream hard, in fact pray hard, read and cram hard in school, make hard money and funny enough, like we say it, spend hard earned money. So it has to do with a general anger in the air. And I’m glad that social media is showing us our true picture. Let me use the American police for example, those guys know how to remain calm and use nice words even when they are still going to use the handcuffs on you and then throw you in the balck maria, they keep referring to you as sir and ma’am even when they can confidently smell and perceive that a driver is under the influence of liquor. I’m sure you’d agree that it’s so pointless comparing them with their Nigerian counterpart.


I’m excited Gov. Oshiomole apologized. That for me is key. I care less if he did that for political reasons or whatever. He has passed a good message. Let’s keep checking our political leaders let’s keep checking our selves, too! If the two million Naira came from his private purse or state purse is one question I’d like him to answer, though.


Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance journalist.  An alumnus of the American College of Journalism, Lanre advocates on several international platforms for the prosperity and absolute well-being of the African continent. He is @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter. 

Lanre says there has to be human face and pinch of sensitivity to leadership