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Published On: Mon, Dec 9th, 2013

Atiku Abubakar Condemns Proposed Seven Years Jail Term for Social Media Critics

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

By Oghenekevwe Laba
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has condemned the propose seven years jail term for social media critics.
Atiku who made the condemnation in a press statement made available to Urhobotoday disclosed that although those in public service may see social media as a threat and indeed seek to censor social media networks, but according to him, such an attempt would be a mistake on their part.

Atiku who argued that social media has allowed him to listen to diverse array of Nigerian voices without filters, advised that instead of censoring social media, governments need to see them as an opportunity to listen directly to their constituency.
“The conversations on social media represent a gold mine of data and reference for performance. The reality is that leaders can test opinions using social media and more importantly can generate and collate ideas and solutions from their constituency by putting their thoughts out in social media.
“Not all ideas on social media are good and leaders sometimes have to make tough decisions which are unpopular. Indeed that is the point of being a leader, being able to filter through multitudes of voices to make the right decision. However, it is good to see social media as a resource, a 24-hour focus group, which can yield fine ideas for every political leader,” he said.
Atiku whose 2015 Presidential posters are already flooding Abuja and its environs pointed out that leadership can only improve where there is an active participation of young people on social media, and the continuous interest on how the nation is governed can only lead to improvements in government.
According to him, “I am personally more conscious of my public actions of late, because my presence on social media means I have to give an account of my actions – a responsibility which is self regulated simply because I am aware of the access that the platforms had provided.
“I am now spending most of my free time reading, writing and engaging on social media, and learning. The responses surely are providing feedback which is helping me to make decisions, including my recent scholarship competition.
“In the last few months, what I have learned is that this social media rise is happening across Africa. That can only be a good thing. It is very possible that this generation will change the future of Africa because of the availability of more information.”
He, however, advised young people to learn to be patient and strategise in the use of social media, adding that driving change would need a continuous push and pull on the leadership. Atiku maintained that if the pressure is not consistent, the leaders young people are seeking to influence will become dense and disregard social media voices as noise, without action.
He advised that to drive change through social media, the key qualities young people would need to learn are consistency and doggedness, because politically, that is the only way to survive.
“Social media is a powerful organizing tool in perfecting and protecting our democracy and moving forward. Together we can ensure dignity for all Nigerians by combating corruption, creating economic opportunity for our youth and securing our communities. I look forward to continuing my engagement and listening to Nigerians (yes, even the critics!) as we strive for a brighter future,” Atiku promised.

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