One of the most popular moments on twitter for Nigeria was two years ago during Occupy Nigeria activist Gbenga Sesan told an audience at Social Media Week Lagos.
Sesan and social entrepreneur Ayo Alli sat down in conversation at the Ethics, Etiquette and Political Activism on Social Media session at Four Points.
Sesan said in the beginning of social media, all citizens could do was go to the president’s Facebook page and leave a comment.
“It was like radio, something that speaks but doesn’t demand a reply,” Sesan said.
Now with Twitter citizens can have arguments. And arguments are part of the conversation, he said.
Ayo Alli, was skeptical of the level of engagement being effective of creating change in the country.
Sesan said the country is still at a level of anger with the government. “We need to move from anger to analysis,” he said. Sesan is hopeful conversations on social media about government will mature.
One of the problems with conversations on twitter criticizing the government is that information is not fact-checked and misinformation about government spreads quickly.
“The number of libelous statements is beyond comprehension. And Nigeria has an ineffective libel law,” said Sesan.
He also said government is operating from a defensive place when engaging citizens. Sesan compared it to running a business. “If you run a business and people look at you and say it’s crap, you’re going to be defensive.”
Elections are coming up for the country in 2015 and he expects social media to play a big role. He thinks there should be a code of ethics developed when having conversation online, but says it has to be organic.