In Your Face
Please offer your comments and suggestions. Thank you, friends!
Nigeria’s future president wants to be your friend.
On Facebook, that is.
Well, it’s complicated. You see, he needs you to join his fan page on Facebook so he can gain popularity by numbers, sell you his spiel, participate in your discussions, convince you and your friends to vote for him. Then he might become Nigeria’s president.
(Then he might forget you.) But let’s not dwell on the future.
Let’s talk about now.
How about these inspirational tomes and captions, and the Photoshopped beaming faces on your Facebook page, telling you how much So-and-So cares about you and wants to be your president? We can forget the fact that a significant number of us is unemployed; that we learned to say “NEPA” before we learned to say “Mummy;” that before today, our voice was ignored.
Don’t get me wrong—I don’t have anything against riding the trends. In truth, I commend our would-be leaders for paying attention to the times. It’s a legitimate strategy, really. We saw young Americans wield the power of Facebook to participate in the democratic process in 2008. (For an interesting treatise on this subject, see the following article: http://gnovisjournal.org/files/Facebook-Youth-Mobilization.pdf.) And in recent months, we have all been soundly assured of the power of web 2.0 and social media to topple regimes. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that youth are the power brokers of today (have always been, though not always recognized), and our social spaces are our virtual Wall Street.
So, of course the bigwigs want to hang out in your space. Of course they’ll wave their manifestos in your face. Hey, at least, you are not being ignored, right!? You are receiving more attention from our leaders now than you did when you were sick or hungry or deprived of education [insert here what your own unique socioeconomic trial has been].
Like I said, I have nothing against political candidates playing their cards right. It’s just … there’s something … how shall I say this? … brashly in-your-face, yet suspiciously underhand about the whole thing. Quite frankly, I’m feeling patronized. And pandered to. Like I’ve been labelled “target market” on someone’s marketing strategy (a marketing strategy for which that someone probably received a handsome payment, but that’s beside the point). You know what I mean?
I have nothing against smiling faces and fan page requests, but I want to know—do these candidates want our voices, or just our votes?
In case our friends out there were wondering, Nigeria’s youth are not sitting down passively, waiting for the elections to “happen to us.” The Enough is Enough (http://www.enoughisenoughnigeria.com/blog/), a coalition of young Nigerians and nonprofits, is commandeering a technology-based campaign challenging Nigerians to “Register, Select, Vote, Protect” (R.S.V.P.) In Google Search, or Facebook, or YouTube, type “Youth Nigeria 2011 Election” in the search box and prepare to make a day of it. Nigerian youth are talking, blogging, singing; and it’s making sense.
And back to you, young Nigerians. Whatever your views are on the “in-your-face,” on your Facbebook page campaign strategy of our 2011 electoral candidates, don’t forget to remember that your voice and your vote must not be separated. When you cast your ballot in April, make sure you’ve had your say.