Ours is a country where our numbers can be a blessing or a curse. When we talk about our numbers, it is usually as a thing of pride, as we are made to believe in the potential of our numbers. I mean take a look at China. Numbers! the country where a world class hospital can be built in ten days. Numbers! The country where American businessmen go to look for cheap labor. Numbers! the country where innovation is on a high speed, because you have many people in a large tech space competing for relevance. Numbers! China, the country who has the audacity to compete with America in the world power tussle for trade and market shares. Numbers!
The case of Nigeria, however, is a different one. It is one thing to be proud of your numbers, and the steaming youth population, yet it is another thing to think about the relevance of this population. How skilled are they? what is their thought process like? How engaging are they? how do they present their opinions on issues that concern them? To what level are they willing to fight and push for their rights?
After you have considered all these questions, think about their relevance on social media. Now aside their relevance on social media, what topics and issues do they pursue? Are they easily distracted?
In the world we live in now, it is dangerous and stupid to ignore the relevance of millennials on social media, especially if you have a population, where more than half spend their entire time looking down on the phone. In fact, they do not have conversations outside their phones.
Trends and topics that get to the mainstream, that drive conversations, is a result of numbers. Ever thought about how it is easier for America to drive conversation and literally control global narratives? It is numbers. not saying that other factors are not at play, but one cannot ignore the power of 200 million people. The power of numbers can also be felt in the widespread of the COVID-19 virus.
You would be surprised at the power of democracy on social media, because basically, the topic that get more interest from people, no matter how stupid they are, is the topic that gets to the mainstream, because it is assumed that this topic is affecting a lot of people.
Statistics have it that there are 22 million Facebook users in Nigeria, who are between the age of 18-34, and 6 million twitter users, also between the age of 18-34. This means that there are lots of young people on social media in Nigeria. And if they make more than half of the population, then they definitely have the power to control the narrative
Now, other countries and individuals, who have studied the power of numbers have banked on this trend to boost their influence or drive home their point, no matter how irrelevant. Remember how at the beginning, we established that the pride in numbers is stupid if there is no potential.
Take for example the case of the musician: Cardi B. Cardi B is an American rapper who has a lot of fan base no doubt. However, her first visit to Nigeria, created a sort of trend on social media. Every time you opened your twitter account around that period, you would see a topic about her. In fact, the more happenings that occur around an individual, the more the news is spread on blogs and news sites across the world.
Another example is the case of POTUS. Trump decided that he did not want Nigerians as immigrants into America, and the news agency began to dig into the reason why. It is not news that some media outlet had already labelled him racist, so they used that policy to say that even though Nigerians are the most successful black immigrants in the United States of America, Trump’s policy was clearly racist. Yes, it is true that Nigerians were the most successful black immigrants in the states, they had data to back that up, yet behind it, was a game of chess. The media outlet became relevant, their followings on social media grew, Nigerians took it upon themselves to cry foul, there was a trend and again our numbers was used against us.
A very recent occurrence is the silence of the Nigerian president to address the citizens in the midst of an outbreak. The people are agitated, as they need an assurance from their leader at this time, to tell them that all is well. Humans; opportunist that we are, a certain Australian influencer who goes by the twitter handle @imamofpeace, started to push the hashtag #whereisbuhari.
One would think that questions would be asked like: who is he? What is his interest in the Nigerian political affairs, for one who is not a Nigerian? What is in it for him? After the hashtag, to what end? But then, if a group of people have been frustrated and stifled for a long time, any “savior” that comes, in whatever shade, shape or color, will be accepted.
My point is that, if we as a people do not ask questions, relevant deep thought provoking questions, about the things that concern and affect us as a people, we will keep being used as media pawns to target the queens in this game of political chess. Because more often than not, it is really not our interest that is being pursued by these individuals, corporations or groups, it is their personal interests. We have the numbers after all. A free to use population. No, think about it, are we that loved?