CENTRE FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT (CITAD),
WITH SUPPORT FROM ROSA LUXEMBURG FOUNDATION (RLF)
Event: Dialogue on Social Media in Academic Environment
Date: Friday 3RD May, 2019
Venue: Boardroom, Faculty of Physical Sciences, Bayero University, Kano (Old Campus)
As part of a broader dialogue initiative on critical knowledge production in the university system, Centre for information Technology and Development (CITAD), with support from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, held a one-day dialogue on youth activism in the era of social media to overcome detraction and leverage opportunities with the title, “Dialogue in Social Media in Academic Environment”
The dialogue was organised to engender discussion among stakeholders especially the academics as well as other key stakeholders on how to challenge pedagogical and epistemological practice and to proffer ways in which it can reconstruct and enable the academic space to become a robust environment for intellectual debates and advancing knowledge.
The dialogue brought together students, social activists, academics and scholars, civil society Representatives and journalists. Key profile s from the academia were also present at the dialogue including Prof. Adamu Tanko Yakasai-the Deputy Vice Chancellor of BUK who chaired the dialogue, Dr. Lawal Abdulwahab-the Dean Faculty of Information Technology, Prof. Habu Muhammad Fagge-HOD of Political Science and Dr. Nura Ibrahim-HOD of Information Media. The Executive Director of CITAD, Dr. Yunusa Ya’u and Mrs Angela Odah of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation were also present at the dialogue
- The Opening Session
a Chairman’s Opening Remarks- Professor. Adamu Tanko, (DVC-Academic, BUK)
The chairman expressed his appreciation for the opportunity given to him to chair the event and also to make his contribution on this important motive. He added that he loves being among the youths and feel so happy when he’s in their midst. Talking about social media, the chairman exclaimed that all of our lives is interaction. One can only get something by coming in close contact with what he wants, understanding one another etc. Leveraging on social media is therefore critical and demanding on the academic environment.
- Welcoming Remarks- Dr. Aminu Aliyu (programme Cordinator)
In his opening remarks, the coordinator of the dialogue, Dr. Aminu Aliyu welcomed everyone who attended the dialogue and also expressed his gratitude to special guests of honours as well as Bayero university, Kano, which offered the venue pro bono and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation for supporting CITAD in organizing and carrying out the dialogue.
- Programme and its Objectives- Dr. Yunusa Ya’u Y.Z (ED CITAD)
While presenting the objectives of the dialogue, the Executive Director of CITAD, Dr. Yunusa Ya’u, explained that the dialogue was organised to see how we can change the world using social media, how we can become possible users of the social media, and refuse to use it for negative purposes. The objectives therefore according to him was engage all relevant stakeholders including students, social activists, academics and scholars, civil society representatives and journalists to generate ideas on how to transform social media from a tool for communication to a tool for critical activism and self-actualization especially in the academic environment, to change the social media into positive force for societal development. It was to also change the mindset of students from just using the social media for communications, to positive use for academic as well as self-reliance purposes. Another objective of the dialogue was also to strategise on how to transform Nigerians from consumers and users to programmers, creators and developers of our own content, applications so that we can compete with the world.
- Good Will Message- Angela Odah (RSL)
A good will message was also issued by the representative of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. She explained that the foundation has been in West Africa since 2010 and works around creating platforms for discussions and dialogues at international, national and regional levels on issues of development, political socio-cultural dynamics with civil society groups, academics, women and youths groups and other relevant stakeholders, to identify and discuss important issues and also provide alternative for development by ensuring that stakeholders within communities have a say in their community. She thanked CITAD for the effort the organization put in organized the dialogue and expressed that that RSL was so happy to be part of it.
- Solidarity Messages
- Dr. Lawal Abdulwahab (Dean, Faculty of Computer Sciences)
We are the users of social media, but what is important is how we use it; either negatively or positively defines us, how we regulate it is equally important. We should use the technology to add value to our society. We should use it for job creation, not just job seekers. It is a great idea to have interaction like this for us to share our ideas.
ii- Prof. Habu Muhammad Fagge (HOD, Political Science Department)
This is a very crucial discussion. Social media is an evitable phenomenon not only to the youth, but to any serious minded person living in the age of globalisation. Communication is so essential that you can actually have the skills of engaging yourself in social media activities without technically related to the background.
iii- Murtala Ibrahim (Reporter, Vanguard Newspaper)
Social media has come to stay, there is nothing we can do about that. What we can do is for Nigeria to have policies that will regulate the use of social media like some other states where they don’t have ungoverned spaces, but the suggestion was rejected. Today we all know the positive and negative effect of the social media. We all know what fake news has caused this country. So there is a need to revisit the issue of regulations to ensure that the social space on social media is not polluted.
The first presentation was titled “Managing the Imperative in Academic Environment” by Sanah Abdullahi Mu’az from department of Software Engineering, BUK. She described that the essence of the presentation is to whether or not the social media is being under-utilised, whether the social media is being used the way it supposed to be from the perspective of the students as well as from the perspectives of the lecturers.
- The second presentation was prepared and made by Abdulganiyyu R. Yakubu, CEO D.D. Hub. His presentation focused on “Making best Use of Social Media.” He expressed that Nigeria is one of the biggest patronizers of social media in the world. It is also noted that people of northern Nigeria has a very huge presence on the social media. This was why we have Hausa content on Facebook as well as the internet. The presentation therefore focused on the plenty of opportunities available on social media which the users can utilise.
- Panel Session
A panel discussion session was also held with four panelists; Aminu Ibrahim, Rabi’u Shamma, Maryam Ado Haruna and Sadiya Lawal Danyaro on the topic “Social Media Activism on Parade”.
Points from the panel discussion:
- Social media could be used to enforce democracy. For youths to use the social media positively, for me I define myself on social media by defining myself, whom do I want to be my friend, what to post on the social media. I select friends based on what they do. Social media is a tool we can use to send messages to the government, to comment on important issues. It is very sad how some news sites post sentiments. We need to sanitise these platforms to make them safe and send the right things. When you see anything online, if it’s not for an authentic source, try to verify before sharing it. There are many ways in which you can verify things on social media. And when you come across anything that does not supposed to be online, you can report it to the platform involved. We need to also localize the social media and have it on our local language.
- Social media plays important roles especially for mobilization for the activists, for instance mobilization for protests or solidarity, the use of #Hashtag is very powerful here. We have several #Hashtags like the #OccupyNigeria, #BringBackOurGirls. These are important event. Activist social media like Facebook and Twitter to campaign for certain issues. Activism like these have make government to take necessary actions, for instance like the protest for fuel subsidy.
- Social media has facilitated online activism just like the way it facilitated online dissemination of news and information. Social media has provided a room for democratic consolidation. To make reference to some #hashtags especially the ones initiated by CITAD like the #SayNoToHateSpeech, #StopViolenceAgainstWomenOnline, #TrackNigeria, #GBVO etc. Activism on social media can be easily accepted in some cases, while in some cases it need a lot of time before it could be widely joined. So it’s something you need to put a lot of effort into, keep doing it, keep repeating the messages and also don’t strict yourself to online activities, you need to complement it offline activities like radio campaign, street march etc. So this social media has facilitated direct communication between people at the grass-root level and those at the government level, you can simple send a message to the president on twitter by mentioning him in the post. Actually social media has so much good to offer to us, but we need to ensure that whatever we are sending out there is for national development, for positive social change. We shouldn’t promote sentiments, hate speech, fake news on social media. Let’s ensure that whatever we are pushing out is to promote unity and make Nigeria a better nation.
- Social media activism is a broad category. As youth activists, we need to utilise the social media in a positive way. We should not post anything that is fake or not genuine. The youths can make governments realise a particular issue which they have not noticed at first. They are a lot of campaigns that are trending on social media. The social media is a very powerful tool. If we look at the case of the ex-finance minister, we can see how powerful the social media is. When we come together we can really pursue what we are agitating for. And the social media in the academic environment, there are a lot of platforms we can utilise for our academic purposes, e.g “Research Gate”, “academia.org.” Most of us are on Facebook, but majority of do not hesitate to share fake news. We really need to be different from the people outside academic environment. Instead of sharing our pictures or fake news on Facebook and Twitter, we can use it to make positive impact.
- Questions and Comments
- Nigeria is a diverse country with so many unending challenges especially at the moment on time. However, if you go to the archives, you will realise that every single challenge we have in this country has been discussed, but our major problem is implementation. if you check, you will see the percentage of the implementation of those solutions is very discouraging. For instance, we are having an important discussion on youth and social media activism, but what would happen after now, how are we going to implement what we have discussed here? What mechanism do we have in place to monitor and supervise the measures that were decided? E.g the impact; what has it change in the academia?
- I’m giving a recommendation to my colleagues especially the lecturers, you can see the opportunities in social media in the academic environment which have been discussed here. The academia supposed to be the ambassadors of every community, in fact, every community look up to the academia for a guide. But you can imagine what we in the academia have contributed toward the negativity of the social media. For instance, the rate in which we share unverified information on the social media is so disgusting, WhatsApp group is a very good example on this. So if we ourselves are not alien to this act, how can we guide our student against it?
- In this era of insecurity, among the students, especially the younger ones, instead of using the social media as a good opportunity, people have now developed the habit exposing their lives on social media by giving details of all their daily activities on social media including their travels and unknowingly making themselves vulnerable.
- Students don’t use the social media as they supposed to. Majority of students don’t even use social media for academic purpose. You find many youths on Instagram and not Twitter because twitter basically deals with intellectual postings, unlike Instagram, where peope go there for like and followers. So a lot need to be done so that our youths’ mindset will changed for them to understand that social media is beyond posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, It can also be utilized for academic purposes. There are a lot of platforms they can use on social media for their academic benefits.
- I want to make a little addition to the second presentation. I did my first and second degree on the usage of social media for cooperate recruitment. Universities now in Nigeria are making serious efforts to train students on entrepreneurship, but the mentality of white collar job is still in us. So student even the post graduate ones will want to hear how they can use social media to get lubricate jobs.
- Our students need to understand that job interviewers are now interested in the history of your postings on social media platforms, this is why they asked for social media handles. So if your postings are negative, how do you expect them to hire or employ you? So we need to be sensitive of what we post on our social media and the comments we make on friends’ postings as well.
- Plenary: Where Do We Go from Here?
- Social media is just like the film industry in Kano, we can’t terminate it. We should therefore keep it in good shape. Our religious leaders should go online, endorse the good side of it and speak out against or sensitise on the negative use of the social media and the ill it may cause.
- We need to be creative enough to become drivers and creators of innovations not just the passengers and consumers of innovation.
- Youths should partner with other stakeholders like the government and other relevant stakeholders to come up with strategic ways in which the social media could be used for societal development.
- We need a societal orientation to become drivers of change.
- We need to have stakeholders on social media apart from the youths, the elders need to join the social media.
- The activists need to take up the challenge of following up of whatever agenda they set. Most start but do not have the courage of making it end with the desired result.
- We must continue to create awareness and inform people the importance of social media to our lives.
- Networking is very important. Students need to utilise the social media for networking to make whatever mission they have stronger and more effective.
- CITAD deserves commendation for it good work, but it also needs to do more on training youths on the positive use of social media.