March 28th – Winners and Sinners: My Social Media Memoir Part 3
The election has been won and lost, the lessons learned, and our democracy deepened.
Social media, like never before, played a major role. Not many people agreed before now that electronic social interaction had the ability to shape the narrative of an event. In 2015, it did just that and more.
All parties took to every available soap box to sell their story, whether truths or lies. Social media was not left out. Hundreds of young people became foot soldiers, pushing all manner of hash-tags with a view to gaining the upper-hand online. A source who would prefer to remain anonymous claims one of the main parties pumped as much as half a billion naira into waging the online war for hearts and minds. Whether that investment yielded fruits or not, the results of the Presidential elections tells it all.
Wow,the results! I have never experienced a more exciting contest like this one. Right from the apprehension that gripped the nation, to the drama from Elder Orubebe, to the the very astute manner in which Professor Jega handled the drama. HBO couldn’t have asked for better content.
Anyways, Let me get to it without further ado, the winners of March 28th.
7. Parents and members of NYSC that worked for INEC: One can not forget the tragedy that trailed the 2011 election, when about 10 Corpers were part of the fatalities of the post-election riots. Not few people demanded that the NYSC authorities discontinue the release of youths in their custody to the cause of elections. No parent would open their eyes and allow their children in harm’s way. But the gallant, and patriotic parents of the Youth Corpers, after getting assurances from INEC and security agencies, gave the go-aheads knowing that the success of democracy depended in part on them allowing their children and wards heed national call. I applaud their courage.
Biggest of all are the Corpers themselves. They bravely carried out the duties assigned to them without fear. I won’t forget how tired they were on that Saturday at my PU. They worked all through the day. In some places they worked through to the next day. You could see how tired they were. I salute you all, members of the NYSC. Thank you for your selfless duty to your motherland.
6. StateCraft Inc: This organization was part and parcel of how General Muhammadu Buhari was able to survive the onslaught of falsehood, half truths, and barefaced slander that the PDP and its campaign machinery hurled at him. They brought some Obama-type glitz and glamour to the whole process with their videos, fliers, and regular newsletters. They were simply a beauty to behold.
The organization was founded by Chude Jideonwo and Debola Williams, two barely 30 year-olds, who made it very clear that youth owns the terrain of packaging and swag. Good job guys. They changed the way election PR Strategy is formed in Nigeria, forever.
5. Lola Shoneyin: When a man who jailed your father comes forward to ask for your help so that he can achieve one of his life-long dreams, your normally ask him to kiss your behind, abi? But not this enigmatic lady. She toured the length and breadth of the country following the GMB campaign train. She is credited with many of the iconic pictures and stories that gave us an peek into the physical fitness and mental alertness of the President-elect.
As is expected, she faced a barrage of insults from online supporters of the ruling party. Like the fine lady she is, she took all of it in her strides and faced the job at stake. A job that had to be done. A job that got done.
4. FactCheki.com.NG: At no time in the history of electioneering in Nigeria has propaganda been as potent as in 2015. Falsehood and half-truths had no no-go areas. There was no drawing the line. Everything, according to the actors, was fair in this war. Somebody had to counter the narratives. In came Gbenga Sesan and Adeolu Ashaye with Factcheki. They did the dirty work of digging up facts from the history in a bid to unearth the truths behind some of the slander. For every piece of falsehood slung by ruling party operatives, these gentlemen met with fact backed truth. They can be credited with putting paid to the silly propaganda that GMB did not buy a single rifle for the armed forces when he was Head of State.
The work of fact-checking is time-consuming, painful, draining, and very emotional, I can tell you this from experience. These guys are winners for real.
4. Professor Attahiru Jega: this is the coolest guy alive, bar none. This was a man who faced determined, concerted, and pointed personal and professional attacks. The gang-up against him went as far as some paid ethnic militias resurrecting from the dead to foment trouble while asking for his resignation. Not a few center-spread newspaper sponsored adverts accusing him of bias, ineptitude, and all sorts surfaced. He also had to brace up to rumors of his impending removal.
One must not forget his biggest challenge yet in all of the election season, yes his biggest. He had to stay calm, manage every activity in his immediate environment, while waiting for Elder Godsday Orubebe to burn out his diatribe. Any mistake he makes while all that went one, include the handling of security agencies at the venue, had the potential of spiraling out of control, up to the point of scuttling the process. But like the statesman he is, he dealt with the situation to the admiration of everybody home and abroad.
He ended up managing the most hotly contested, most divisive, and most interesting Presidential in Nigeria’s history. He courageously announced the defeat of an incumbent President. Something that has never happened in the history of Nigerian statehood.
3. Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR: when in 2010, His Excellency, President Umaru Musa YarAdua passed on after illness, I had no fear that his Vice, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will take over and fulfill the aspirations of the nation. After the drama that trailed the “doctrine of necessity” he assumed office as substantive President. I was filled with expectation, knowing that a relatively young, very educated person was finally going to steer the affairs of the country again. It was not surprising then that in 2011, he won the Presidential election, almost with ease.
During the 2015 election campaigns, I could sense his reluctance to play dirty. I could sense a man holding back, a man who knew he did not have to wallow in the gutter to win a second term in office. But he also knew the process was not child’s play, that it was not for the lily livered. He put up a good fight, the fight was just not on the same wavelength as the aspirations of majority of Nigerians.
He then did what only Statesmen do. He called his opponent, conceded defeat, and congratulated him. This type of thing was rare, though not the first time in Africa. By that singular action, he earned his place at the table of African greats, at the gathering of International Statesmen. His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan earned himself a lasting legacy, a legacy that will be never be forgotten, a legacy that will be taught in history classes all over the world.
2. General Muhammadu Buhari: GMB, as he is fondly called, must have made Abraham Lincoln turn in his grave. GMB likely has set a new world record. After his failed attempts in 2003, 2007, and 2011, he announced in an emotional statement that he had come to his wits end. Somehow, like the phoenix, after the merger of the APC which had in its fold heavyweights like Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Rotimi Amaechi, and Rabiu Kwakwanso, he rose again and decided to give it another shot.
This time he did not fail. His integrity, doggedness, and patriotism stood him in good stead and he did it in grand style. He defeated an incumbent, something that has never happened in the annals of Nigerian democracy.
I remember when Doyin Okupe said it will never happen that Muhammadu Buhari will become a democratically elected President of Nigeria. Little did he know that the saying “Man proposes but God disposes” was still in play.
1. The People of Nigeria: The political scene in Nigeria has changed forever. None of us has ever experienced what we pulled off by voting in GMB on March 28th. It is a whole new experience for the electorate, a sudden realization that power indeed belongs to the people. Nigerians wanted change and they spoke with their votes. They thumb printed the ballots after hours of queuing under the sun. It did not stop there, they stayed behind and watched the counting of the votes, no chances could be taken.
I salute you, my compatriots. We did this together, whether PDP, APC, or neutral. We changed the way politicians perceive us for good. We indeed are the biggest winners. God bless us all.