Thought farts of Nigeria social media

Social media has been incredibly useful tool in disseminating information in recent years especially in the case of Nigeria where useful information is scarce. This development has enabled lots of people who normally would not be involved in events around the country to now participate in the discussions of issues that affect their lives and in turn we have seen significant increase in the number of youths involved in social activism for the common good –  grateful for the freedom of information and the invention of social media.

Now here is the tricky part – lots of Nigeria youths now have smart phones so they are on all kinds of apps connecting to friends and like-minded people both within and outside of the country with a few clicks. Maybe this is time to remind ourselves about the importance of being responsible especially in the way that we share information on very sensitive and important matters.

On Ebola virus – a couple of friends the other week decided to play a prank on people by sending messages that shower with salty water would prevent people from getting Ebola virus. One of the girls went ahead and sent instant message via BBM to her contacts. Within hours the false claim went viral like wildfire and annoyingly some local radio stations aired the information as if the claim was true.

It is very easy to assume no one would believe this sort of advice but the reality was many people did. On Saturday the 9th, a few hours after the prank broke I spoke to my dad to chat and by off chance asked if he heard about the false claim of salt shower – he did on the radio but didn’t think the claim was true. My mother always had evening shower so I asked her, she cheerily replied, “of course I just had a salt shower! better to be safe, abi?” I asked why she would do that knowing fully well she is on no-salt diet. She answered “the radio says so.” Oh, well that was a very bad joke that some irresponsible girls played on each other to see how gullible Nigerians were and not an official information from the health authority. My mother who is in her late seventies wondered why the radio station would announce such unverified claim. Thank goodness, the prank wasn’t that people should drink 100g of salt with water – could be worse. Maybe mother should have cross-checked the news.

With power of social media, comes responsibility. Time for Nigeria youths to read information received before forwarding/retweet? You will be doing less tweets/whatsapp/Facebook etc per day but at least information passed on to the masses will be for social good – that should be the best way of making use of social media.

I encountered another Nigeria social activist the other day who thinks the scare of Ebola virus in Nigeria has been taken out of proportion. Her thinking was that there are so many other contagious diseases floating around us for decades and we have not been wiped out yet using HIV/AIDS as an example. I was a bit concerned about this activist because she has 2,854 Facebook likes – with social media thought farts, lots of damage can be done here if her followers took her too seriously.

The difference between Ebola and HIV/AIDS in simpler term is that Ebola kills in a matter of weeks from the date of infection while HIV/AIDS kills slowly given plenty of time for the patients to get help and hope to live a bit longer, patients have low mortality rate with access to antiretroviral drugs while Ebola has 90% mortality rate for those infected – both contagious but more so for Ebola.

In Nigeria we do not take anything seriously until it gets out of hand. A couple of months ago, President Jonathan made confession that his administration has been handling Boko Haram insurgency with kid gloves two weeks later, #BringBackOurGirls occurred, lots of other killings have been going on before and after that incidence and only yesterday or so were 100 boys kidnapped.

While government in all arms seem to be taking Ebola seriously now by setting up emergence clinics in every state which is a fantastic news. I do know that even if we took the cue from February when the first case broke out in Guinea, it still wouldn’t be out of proportion because we would have prevented needless deaths.

Social media has been fantastic but now we really do need to be responsible users too and at least read the text before passing it along.

I spotted “Thought Farts” from reading Opinionated Man  post on the use of twitter, I immediately knew where the phrase best suited!

GEJ best move ever – Resident doctors suspension when is ASUU’s turn?

If all Nigerians did not attend the National Conference – Nigerian doctors too, must have delegates to iron out their grievances with the Nigeria Minister of Health therefore doctor’s indefinite strike is inhumane and they rightly deserved to be suspended.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to suspend Residency Training Programme for Doctors in Nigeria is one of the best moves he has made up to date.

IMG-20140814-WA0000Let me be clear, there is a lot that I wish could be better with the present administration especially the way that Boko Haram case is being handled is heart breaking considering the number of needless waste of innocent lives and of course that ongoing call to #BringBackOurGirls make it all the more difficult to understand what our leaders are doing.

The move to suspend resident doctors is not just about the doctors alone, it is about what the suspension represents to the ever dwindling professionalism of all Nigeria professionals in the way they resolve conflicts.

Nigeria, for the best part of twenty years has seen a huge decline in quality of our medical health system. We all blame the government for the mess. Maybe rightly so, but don’t everyone has responsibility? Nigeria doctors’ strike this time started July 1st because of some issues around titles and a whole other debates around consultants entitlements that needed to be ironed out with federal government. As always, the language used was that the doctors were going on “indefinite” strike until their demands were met. They do this all the time. Ebola news started making rounds in February this year, the doctors were well aware of this and the fact that we are close neighbour with the countries affected was not enough to bring NMA to reason. Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian entered Nigeria July 20 and died three days later of Ebola infection – still that was not enough for the doctors to call off their strike. Where is the humanity in doctors’ strike action? Didn’t they swear oaths to save lives? 

The only victims here are the people whose lives were at stake in our public hospitals. GEJ and his family fly abroad on Health Tourism to take care of their health issues. How hard was it to call off the strike so as to safe lives first and perhaps have delegates to continue dialogue with the government?

Why does it take everyone to go on strike and indefinite one at that to have a dialogue with the government? And the most annoying  part was that after agreement has been reached, there will be a few more weeks whereby the same body will embark on yet another word-fight on their salary during the strike – not unusual to go back on strike just so they could be paid for when they were on initial strike actions – it is a vicious cycle – must end.

Nigeria Medical Association is not alone is using strike actions as the only way to demand results from the government.

Nigeria Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is notorious for this. ASUU and the Nigeria government are responsible for the state that the country education is today – mess.  For the last fifteen years, Nigeria universities have not been in school for a whole session without the need to close up the school. If it wasn’t the lecturers demanding for more pay/resources, it will be students protesting for all manner of causes, the end result – strike. We need to find better way to resolve conflicts without making everyone in the society pay for the “sins” they did not commit. This year, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) students have been home for more than two months because students protested the new fee hike. Last year, the same university and other federal universities in the country was closed for six months because ASUU wanted pay increase.

In the short term the losers were the students but in the long run, the whole society loses as we have graduates who are not well equipped for the job market.

Can GEJ please sack the lecturers too next time they embark on strike? I am sure it is any minute from now – it’s the only pastime that they know how to.

Doctors are already home and do this a lot needless to think GEJ suspension of resident doctors will affect Ebola epidemic – If the doctors genuinely cared, then they need to show it to the people by doing their job and assigning delegates to sort out their issues with appropriate authority.

If GEJ suspended/sacked ASUU – wouldn’t  be the end of the world as education sector can not possibly be any worse than it is now.

Now, maybe it is time for everyone to break the silence and demand GEJ to live up to the post that he is in. The system is already broken, it will require everyone to play their parts.

In this instance, it is hypocrisy blaming GEJ.