#OccupyNigeria: The Making Of A Cyber Fury – By Jude Egbas

#OccupyNigeria: The Making Of A Cyber Fury – By Jude Egbas

Articles | | February 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm

“ Do you know any Japhet Omojuwa?”, a younger friend called Okunade Goodman enquired of me on a social net working site as we discussed the impact of Nigeria’s newest Movement, days after thousands of youths had taken to the streets to protest the Government’s hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

“No, why?”, I had responded, a bit starry eyed and fecklessly, while almost berating myself for having not looked up the name ‘Japheth Omojuwa’, on the google search engine.

“Omojuwa and Chinedu Ekeke are the main guys I know who drove the #OccupyNigeria Movement. They both have blogs which kept us all informed. You can follow them on twitter @omojuwa, @ekekee, @elrufai, @toluogunlesi, @occupynaija,@yadomah….”, suggested Goodman.

Thus began my twitter adventure. Yes, I had maintained a Tweet handle prior to my discussion with Mr Goodman, but my whole world was about to turn full circle as I began ‘following’ all of the Twitter personalities my friend had suggested above. And as days snow-balled into weeks, I would ‘follow’ more of Nigeria’s cyber activists and other likeminded persons, allowing myself the luxury of peering through a new lens for my country in the comfort of my PC or Smart phone. Over night, I had unashamedly transformed into a Twitter addict of the first degree.

Two years before, In an article which was published on saharareporters.com and other Nigerian online news media titled; “Nigeria’s new power elite are here”, I had responded to Reverend Matthew Kukah’s piece of a similar title by suggesting that the New Power Elite which he had waxed so lyrical about in a piece published in the Guardian Newspapers, was actually closer than we thought. But not even I had expected that new power elite to begin baring its fangs so early in the day. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s (GEJ’s) ill advised fuel subsidy removal scheme, proved to be some blessing in disguise.

As I joined the mass protests on foot from Yaba to the Ojota Park in Lagos on the first day of the strikes, chanting anti-government slogans along the way, I allowed myself a smile and some measure of pride. Nigeria was actually coming of age right before my very eyes. Young people long erroneously perceived as gullible, blithe and insouciant were demanding for changes in the way the country’s affairs have been run and calling for an end to that fabled Nigerian monster—corruption, in the most legitimate of ways .

 

The numerous placards were suggestive of a new force that had been simmering with rage underneath while a heartless political elite ruled the roost insalubriously. By the third day of the protests, it was clear GEJ and his cabinet would have little choice but accede to the demands of the people. The Gani Fawenhinmi Freedom Park had by this time assumed a carnival atmosphere thanks in large part to modern electronic devices and the new media. Younger people were mobilizing friends and families with facts and figures of Government malfeasance and profligacy using Blackberry Devices, the Iphone, Ipads and mobile phones. Facebook statuses and Twitter updates had anger and venom splurged on their pages, each a reminder of the writing on the wall which successive Governments had disparagingly ignored to wit: It was only a matter of time before the bubble of docility in Nigerian homes busted with one more shove to the walls.

#OccupyNigeria has emerged from the rubbles of a fuel subsidy protest and Cyber fury, and indications appear to be that it has indeed taken a life of its own and come to stay. The likes of @ekekee and @omojuwa now have thousands of young people ‘following’ them. @elrufai and @delemomodu now and again chip in with quotes and cries of a new Nigeria. @Pobahiagbon panders towards the grandiloquent as has become his pastime, but still stirs the soul with anecdotes and sound bites deriding the incompetence of the Government of the day.

As I write this piece, the framework for the birth of a twenty million strong Nigerian army or more to install a credible leadership by the time the 2015 elections come around, is being hatched and perfected on Twitter. And to dismiss this mobilization network of angry Nigerians as a bunch of ‘castle-in-the-air’ daydreamers would be fool-hardy.

The fuel subsidy protests provided the tinder box on which a well spring of age long fury had been forever ignited. Apparently, #OccupyNigeria, with a symbolic logo reminiscent of the popular black power movement symbol of 1960 America, has moved from the realms of cyber dreamland and is taking roots in the hearts of millions of Nigerians from Ogoja to Lokoja and from Lagos to Kafanchan.

As I gyrated to the tunes of several artistes who came to perform in Ojota on Day three of a slew of hugely successful mass protests country-wide, it dawned on me that the 2015 polls, with the deluge of modern communication tools in the hands of these young men and women, and further sinewed with a swarm of information at their finger tips, would be even harder to rig.
From Twitter handles and Facebook updates, that new Nigeria we had long envisioned dreamily may yet be taking roots before our very eyes in the most unorthodox of ways. The ‘cabal’ would do well to be warned.

Please join me on Twitter @egbas.

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