It is not uncommon to see folks argue about the merits and demerits of Social Media, its assumed impact on young people and in the long run, its overrated impact on social change.
Recently, a group of young Nigerians who are mostly vocal about their dissatisfaction for the state of governance and lack of accountability by public officials in Nigeria were hosted to a dinner at Aso Rock. The simple minded will immediately posit that eating at the King’s table is a tacit endorsement of the king’s ways and as such, a true patriot should refuse such an entree. An open-minded individual will however posit that such an opportunity should be largely interactive. This will in return afford the young person an opportunity to voice out the seemingly glaring dissatisfaction while standing on existing protocols.
Alas, as is the case with most events like this, interaction and engagement are at most, non-existent. What we see is a linear process in which the speaker speaks and the listener listens.
The highpoint of the event was when the President who was represented by the Vice President of the Country took the podium to highlight some thoughts that are fundamentally correct and timely.
“The limitless reach afforded by the internet environment requires discipline, circumspection, decorum and the judicious dispensation of time.” ~ Namadi Sambo (Vice President of Nigeria)
“That which is designed to enhance should not be permitted to impair; whether your preferred device is laptop, tablet or smartphone, let us all apply those keypads wisely and productively.” ~ Namadi Sambo (Vice President of Nigeria)
The above thoughts cannot be coincidental lines in the script. The audience at the event were young people who are hugely driven by technology. It will not be unusual to find that a reasonable bulk of these young ones may or may not easily define the thin line between “Freedom of expression” and “hate speech” when a random search is conducted on their Social Media Legacies.
The Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah who has been on the QWERTY lips of young Nigerians in the past month was present and actively participating at the same event. Would it be out of place for the major youth headliners of the event to have stood on existing protocols to subtly push the online messages home?
A moment came that ultimately displayed the attitude of most young persons in moment of offline engagement. Mr. Chude Jideonwo got an opportunity as a speaker to speak; apparently grateful for the magnanimous entrée offered by the Federal Government made a statement that was not in harmony with his usual online candour;
“Mr. President, you are perhaps the first President in my lifetime to take young people seriously.”~ Chude Jideonwo
The above statement is not unique to the speaker; it is the usual attitude of most young Nigerians, including Blossom. How can online utterances of frustration by young Nigerians, which are generally classified as rants, find an expression in such events? How can we claim as a demographic that we are the guardians and custodians of an uncertain future when we do not embrace opportunities that can shape that future?
It is not rocket science to point out that the societal insistence on acquiescence may have a role to play. I will however differ by stating the obvious. A large number of our young people do not follow the acquiescence rule online and as such should shed the assumed attitude offline.
In conclusion, I will recommend that even as we outwardly nod our heads to the earlier caution given by the Vice President, it is equally important that same discipline, circumspection, decorum and the judicious dispensation of time should be embraced to voice out our dissatisfaction, offline. What we really need is a future, not an entree about the future.
I conclude by congratulating every one of the 100 Guardians of the future who truly deserved the honour.
God bless Nigeria!