By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
A former deputy governor of Centre Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, Ms Kadaria Ahmed and Dr Joe Abah, have harped on the role social media can play in shaping national reforms, if properly harnessed.
The trio spoke at the 3rd edition of the Wole Soyinka Digital Town Hall on the topic: ‘Social Media, Digital Journalism and the Quest for National Reforms’ organised by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity).
According to them, social media is a veritable tool for the mobilisation of Nigerians for national reforms but the citizens would need to overcome hurdles for effective result.
While kicking against any move to gag the social media, they noted that Nigerians need massive enlightenment cum critical thinking and high literacy to maximise the benefits of the social media for national reforms.
Ahmed, a journalist and media entrepreneur in her paper argued that social media contributes to the democratisation of governance and helps in policy making.
She listed some of the shortcoming of digital journalism to include lack of fact checking, highly subjective, deliberate politicization and manipulation adding however that these can be overcome through enmasse education of citizens to avoid misinformation.
Ahmed who advocated for participatory journalism as witnessed during the EndSARS protest urged the government to include media literacy as part of the curriculum from the primary school which would over time train and help individuals discern between genuine and fake news.
In his presentation, Country Director, Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), Dr Joe Abah stated that despite its shortcomings especially for those not politically aligned; social media can aid public accountability and advocacy for justice.
According to him through the social media, Nigerians now know more about the national budget and can track same through information presented by groups such as budgIT.
He implored the government to focus on using the social media to inform Nigerians about its programmes and policies to get feedbacks rather than use it to hurls insults on critics of the government.
The former presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Prof Kingsley Moghalu in his presentation expressed regrets that poverty which is high in Nigeria and literacy level which is low limits access to the social media.
Moghalu declared that the population in Nigeria is yet to access the social media platforms to the extent that it can make the needed impact in the society.
The former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria who opined that an average Nigerians wants hope advised the government to use the social media as a listening tool and not as a weapon for propaganda.
Moghalu added that Nigerians need to organise at the community level to make the desired impact with social media as a potential enabling force.
The host webinar, Mr Iheanyi Konkwo, Capoon, Panama Deck, said the topic was chosen because the organisation has identified the growing influence and role of the digital space in the global social re-engineering process as one that provides huge opportunities for mass mobilization for social-political reforms while also presenting enormous challenges due to mass disinformation.