How many Twitter activists make one vote?

The problem with so many Twitter crowd members is they live in their comfort zone and are not about to lift a finger to get out of there.

Image by Jeff Attaway, via Flickr CC.

In the last week I attended a conference of ‘Future Leaders of Nigeria,’ and one of the facilitators made a very interesting statement, “Politicians do not value the number of followers you have on Twitter, they value the number of people you can bring to the table when it matters.” That proposition was proved beyond reasonable doubt on Saturday when the Federal Capital Territory Municipal Elections took place.

You see, for far too long, the conversation among assorted Twitter warriors has been about how “we intend to give the PDP (the ruling party) a bloody nose in 2015.” On the evidence of Saturday, and following the provisional results declared, I can say with all confidence that the PDP will bounce back even stronger than it currently is.

You see, on Saturday, turnout was high in rural FCT, while in Abuja Municipal, the “posh” area, a lot of the middle/upper-middle/upper class folk that I spoke with (over the phone of course) complained that the weather was too bad, or that they were not registered in Abuja, or that they didn’t know the candidates, or most outrageously, that the elections were not important enough!

Now let’s look at some of these complaints in detail.

First, the weather was too hot. Really? For an election that would determine how your area is run for the next three years or so?

For those who complained that they didn’t know the candidates, I will digress a little and tell a sob-story. In Lagos a few years ago, plans were drawn up for the Ibeju-Lekki Expressway which was going to be concessioned out after constructions. According to the state government, those plans were displayed in public for months, and a grand total of less than 10 people came to acquaint themselves with those plans. Those who came, felt that the plans were good, so the government went ahead and began construction. Still, silence. People only began to make noise when the road was complete, and the toll gates were erected. For a plan that had been approved by all legal bodies?

It is the same mentality that follows our attitudes to our municipalities. We are all so focused on GEJ [for non-Naija that’s Goodluck Jonathan, current president–Ed] and how he is pardoning #DSPAlams that we forget that the biggest damage to our country is done at the local level. Two quick questions here. First, who is the chairman of the local government in which you reside? Second, is it GEJ that will come and pack the filth at the entrance to your street?

This particular point dovetails into the final point about people who couldn’t get their arse out of bed on a “holiday” because the elections weren’t important enough! What rank stupidity! While you are so busy trying to chase a huge rat, the little rat next to you is gradually growing into a big rat.

And this is the problem with so many Twitter crowd members, they live in their comfort zone and are not about to lift a finger to get out of there. So, while we complain and moan on Twitter and Facebook, the real leaders of tomorrow are busy getting their hands dirty, getting involved in their local politics, getting to know, and getting themselves known by, the people who matter.

Further Reading

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Africa Is a Country is proud to present a partnership with the popular South African podcast Just Us Under a Tree. On this episode, the Just Us crew analyze South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ.