Former presidential candidate Prof Kingsley Moghalu, Ms. Kadaria Ahmed and Dr Joe Abah have harped on the roles social media can play in shaping national reforms if properly harnessed.
The trio spoke at the 3rd edition of the Wole Soyinka Digital Town Hall with the topic: Social media, digital journalism and the quest for national reforms organised by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity).
According to them, social media is a veritable tool for the mobilisation for national reforms but the citizens would need to overcome hurdles for effective results.
While kicking against any move to gag the social media, they noted Nigerians need massive enlightenment cum critical thinking and high literacy to maximize the benefits of social media for national reforms.
Ahmed, a journalist and media entrepreneur, in her paper, argued that social media contributes to the democratisation of governance and helps in policymaking.
She listed some of the shortcomings of digital journalism to include lack of fact-checking, highly subjective, deliberate politicization and manipulation adding however that these can be overcome through en masse education of citizens to avoid misinformation.
Ahmed, who advocated for participatory journalism, as witnessed during the #EndSARS protest, urged the government to include media literacy as part of the curriculum from the primary school which would over time train and help individuals discern between genuine and fake news.
In his presentation, Country Director, Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), Dr Joe Abah, stated despite its shortcomings especially for those not politically aligned, social media can aid public accountability and advocacy for justice.
According to him through social media, Nigerians know more about the national budget and can track the same through the information presented by groups such as BudgIT.
He implored the government to focus on using social media to inform Nigerians about its programs and policies to get feedbacks rather than use it to hurls insults at critics of the government.
Moghalu expressed regrets that poverty, which is high in Nigeria and literacy level which is low, limits access to social media.
He declared the population in Nigeria is yet to access the social media platforms to the extent that it can make the needed impact in society.
The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), who opined an average Nigerians wants to hope, advised the government to use social media as a listening tool and not as a weapon for propaganda.
Moghalu added Nigerians need to organise at the community level to make the desired impact with social media as a potential enabling force.
The host webinar, Mr Iheanyi Konkwo, Capoon, Panama Deck, said the topic was chosen because the organisation has identified the growing influence and role of the digital space in the global social re-engineering process as one that provides huge opportunities for mass mobilization for social-political reforms while also presenting enormous challenges due to mass disinformation.