Group Charges New Media Influencers To Be A Tool For Citizen Engagement
On Thursday May 24, social media influencers and creative artists in Nigeria assembled at Ibeto Hotel in Abuja, in the Northern region of Nigeria, to participate in the breakfast session organized by Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (PERL).
The session dwelled on six key issues which include: open governance, citizens’ participation, elections and youth participation, design and creation production, and other dominant issues.
The Federal Team Leader, Rommy Mom, in his address, said: “We are bringing to you issues we have distilled from citizens, we are seeing to relate directly with the people, the man and women on the street, the resource constraint people in Nigeria. We are going to reach out to groups who ordinarily do not have a voice”
With the rising number of young people on social media, many development organizations are beginning to engage with social media influencers to sustain the momentum on contemporary issues by engaging the real time audience especially on governance and everything that has to do with citizens influencing policies and service delivery.
John Mutu, the National Coordinator for Friends of Democracy, in his remarks, charged social media influencers to be proactive and more importantly leverage on their influence to bring about positive change in the society.
Another issue xrayed by Mutu was the lack of political will on State Houses of Assembly to grant autonomy to Local Government. According to him, of the 36 states of Assembly in the country, only 12 Houses of Assembly have considered bills on independence of the local government. Nine States that have voted for the Bill are: Cross River, Bayelsa, Ogun, kwara, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Bauchi, and Sokoto State.
Three States that voted against the Bill are Edo, Imo and Rivers State.
In his words, Mutu noted: “We must continue to insist that the Local government are removed from the shackles that they are subjected to today.”
Worthy to note is President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for Local Government autonomy; however, many State Houses of Assembly are yet to make this a reality.
More so, many Governors are known for appointing Caretaker Committee to manage the affairs of local government areas, a trend the National Coordinator for Friends of Democracy is fighting to proscribe.
According to Mutu, the act of appointing Caretaker Committee rather than conducting local government election erodes the principle of accountability and good governance as the appointees are only responsible to their Governors instead of the people at the grassroot level.
On the forthcoming 2019 general elections where Nigerians will be going to the polls to choose their next President, participants chorused the need to for electorates to create an agenda to correct the low participation of young people in politics.
Remembering the words of the great Philosopher, Plato, where he said: “If you refuse to participate in politics, you will be ruled by inferiors,” Mutu stressed the need for influencers to set the agenda for political discussion, specifically staying on what the issues should be.
At the end of the session, participanst agreed to be a leading voice in implementing change via their different platforms.