Why is social media only toxic to Desmond Elliot after elections?
To say that the demands from the #EndSARS protest hold no atom of truth is to say that Nigerians who have shared personal experiences before the protest and during the protest are all suffering from mass hysteria. While the protest started in two major cities in Nigeria and progressed to various parts of the country, a huge amount of traction for the protest started from social media.
Ultimately, social media became the one place to stay updated on happenings as it concerns the protest. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were hotspots in the amplification of the many voices that spoke in support of the protest. And as activism content flowed and overflowed, some political actors were aggravated, not just at Nigerians, but also at social media in general.
For most political actors, social media made it so seamless to be disrespectful to elders, propagate fake news, and ultimately, be discourteous to constituted authorities.
During the course of the protest, former presidential candidate, Adamu Garba filed a case against Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey; accusing him of endorsing and supporting the rights of Nigerians to protest peacefully. Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, stated that social media will be the death of Nigeria. To him, Nigerians do not read the news nor listen to the radio anymore. He faulted social media as a tool to propagate fake news, citing ‘cases’ that ensued from the #EndSARS protest. Nigerian actor-cum politician, Desmond Elliot, also joined the train to fault social media in a recent sitting at the Lagos State House of Representative. For him, with the way Nigerians use social media, there will be no Nigeria in the next five years.
Now, these moves by politicians is a huge cause for concern as it appears that there is a war brewing against the digital world of social media. Their desires to control and regulate social media in ways that seem only right to them makes one question why it feels so wrong that Nigerians are expressive of themselves on social media- especially when they are calling for accountability in what is supposed to be a democratic state. It also makes one question why social media only becomes the devil’s tool after elections.
In a matter of months, many politicians will be in the faces of Nigerians on social media. They will not be joining in the persistent bants or what Nigerians have described as ‘social media cruise’ – No, they would, instead, be pushing their ideas for the coming 2023 elections.
Social media becomes that go-to place for them to campaign, where they present themselves as tolerant of whatever opinion people who don’t support them have of them. Social media becomes that one tool for the politician to passionately express and state his plans in leading Nigerians to the promised land.
The promised land promise is not new to Nigerians and when politicians don’t deliver, they are dragged on the same medium that they used in pushing out their ideas – but at that point, dragging them may now be painted as ‘hate speech’, ‘insults’, ‘fake news’ and a host of other terms.
Desmond Elliot who recently took a stance against social media failed to address all the issues raised from the #EndSARS protest. He ignored the Lekki Shootings, he ignored the fact that the protest started from young people’s story of harassment on social media – Young people even from his constituency. All these would probably be very important points for Desmond Elliot if he were merely an actor. But no, he is now a politician and social media has become a very toxic and scary place where ‘Nigerian children’ go about insulting their elders.