The unarguably biggest campaign on social media at the moment is the #EndSars campaign across Nigeria. Not even the Ondo State gubernatorial election that is to be held on 10th October 2020 as reported by traditional news media is generating the same buzz as the #EndSars campaign here in Nigeria and Internationally. This is only because having understood that they have no allies with the political establishment and traditional media, Nigerian youths have determined that their voice must be heard.
The message is clear and the demand is seemingly fair, for an extortionist squad of the Nigerian police to go. However, those elected into the office both to represent and to direct the affairs of the country are mum. It would be unfair to say they are just silent when it appears to be a deliberate and calculated silence to frustrate the demand of young Nigerians.
Yesterday, 8th October 2020, Social media influencer and Comedian, Mr Macaroni, Rinusavy, and more than 40 others took the protests to the Lagos State House Of Assembly. At first, they were assured of their safety and well being within their rights, then they showed it was just lies.
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Watching traditional and print media, one would have thought that nothing was going on and all was well. Channels, TVC, Galaxy TV, and an entire Journalist Rendevouz were just about 5 – 15 minutes from the venue of the protest, but they ignored it.
It’s frankly not surprising at all as many of the media organisations allegedly have affiliations with political parties and won’t bite the hands that feed them. On another hand, given history, they could have risked a possible shutdown if they broadcasted the protests.
And that sums up Nigeria, damned if you speak, damned if you don’t. The Commissioner of Police Hakeem Odumosu who had given protesters assurance of their safety later brought out towing vehicles, dismantled the canopies the protesters had assembled, and attempted to provoke them into violence.
Immediately, Nigeria social media space kept trending #EndSars, peaking it at number one on the Twitter world trends. The interactions and encouragement from those online kept these young Nigerians going.
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While traditional media relegated itself, social media forced the hand of the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, RT. Hon. Mudashiru Lawal who was supposedly in detention by EFCC to address the protesters. The speaker also convened an emergency sitting of the House.
Nigerian youths have for long been accused of being docile and even called lazy by the President, however, against the institutions of oppression funded and favoured by the very oppressors, they used the free expression that comes with social media and demanded that the government #EndSars. Little wonder the very oppressors badly want to regulate social media and the freedom of expression that accompanies it.
If you don’t understand the role of the silence of the traditional media, this tweet by Jola (@Jollz) sums it perfectly;
My parents didn’t/don’t know any protest is happening. “It’s not in the news. We did not even see it on forum (Whatsapp). There is deliberate silence on the part of traditional media, let’s not be disingenuous.
— Jola (@Jollz) October 9, 2020
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