Speakers at a lecture recently to mark the opening of the 2017 press week of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, x-ray the good, the bad and ugly sides of the social media
The event was the annual lecture cum 2017 press week of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ. But for Emmanuel Uduaghan, immediate past governor of the state, and chairman of the occasion, it was one opportunity to speak his mind on issues that had bothered and grieved him since he left office almost two years ago under a not-so-cordial circumstance. It was his first time since his exit from the office that he would be making a speech at a public function in the state, and for this, he was thankful to the out-going chairman of the NUJ, Norbert Chiazor, and his executive for giving him the opportunity. From the tone of his speech, it was clear he needed to put the records straight on the negative impression that had been created in the minds of Nigerians about his eight years stewardship. For him, therefore, the theme of the press week – Journalists, Social Media, and Good Governance – could not have been more apt, having, admittedly, been a victim of the menace of social media.
In his opening remarks, which set the tone for the lecture delivered by renowned professor of constitutional law and former Edo State governor, Oserheimen Osunbor, Uduaghan described the social media as a leveller because everyone has access to it, and so provides the forum for everybody to air anything in his mind – the good, the bad and the ugly. “But the result of that is that the ugly seem to be overtaking the bad and the good. So, we have a lot more ugly posts in the social media than posts that are acceptable”, Uduaghan opined. He said while it has the advantage of immediacy, “that speed has its disadvantage because once a wrong information goes into the social media, it’s very difficult to retrieve it”, adding that even when you are able to retrieve it, or correct it, sometimes, not more than 10 percent of the people who read the first message will agree with the corrected message, while 90 percent will still be going on with the wrong message.
Using his experience as a case in point, Uduaghan regretted that the social media has been an instrument of blackmail. He was particularly concerned about the situation in Delta State where he alleged that blackmail has become a big profession. “People are now eating with it, building houses with it, buying cars with it” with everybody becoming a victim of blackmail. He, therefore, cautioned the state government, “that sometimes the activities of blackmailers can lead to very serious security challenges in the state”, adding that “I am saying this with all sense of responsibility”. He warned that if the government decided to sit by and allow blackmailers have a field day, then the result might not be too good for the state. Getting emotional, Uduaghan said “I am a man of peace; I have managed the state for eight years and I ensured that there was peace in Delta State, and I will not be part of anything that would bring insecurity to Delta State. And if I perceive that my action might bring insecurity to Delta State, I will also say it to the government. I think I have discussed this with the SSG before and advised him, but I have not seen the result of that advise. That is why I am saying it publicly”.