Update (2011): So I’ve been getting comments saying its very possible to get a topic to trend on twitter. Yes this is now actually very easy due to the number of Nigerians who now use Twitter. This post was written in 2009. If the #LightupNigeria relaunched with the same type of enthusiasm it had a few years ago, it will definitely trend worldwide.
The #lightupnigeria campaign started sometime in July on Twitter. According to wthastag.com, it is:
A viral movement of Nigerians demanding action to solve the chronic electricity crisis in the country.
Nigerians are frustrated, and this is just a way to express dissatisfaction and frustration at the situation of things.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest nation. One major problem facing Nigeria is unstable power supply. The erratic power supply is almost a bigger hindrance to the country’s progress than corruption. With stable power supply, Nigeria could easily join (and probably pass) countries like Brazil, India, China, Mexico and South Africa as a Newly Industrialised Country.
I grew up in Nigeria and even though I don’t live there right now, I’ve spent about 3 months there this year and still experienced almost zero power supply in Lagos and Abuja. I was lucky to have stayed with an aunt who had the generator on every night all through till the morning. Once the gen went off I had to get my butt out of the house as quick as possible and I usually spent most of the day at the Silverbird Galleria just because there was steady power there (or at least a steady gen) and fast internet. All my work is on the internet. I CAN NOT function without it! I cant get business done in Nigeria and I’m here sitting abroad getting as much done as I can while I’m here cos there’s no power in Nigeria, even though most of my clientele is in Nigeria! I know how much money my parents spend on generators and diesel.
Ok so back to #lightupnigeria. I, personally, have not been typing that hashtag on Twitter. I probably haven’t typed it more than 10 times in total. I’m sorry! Now it’s not that I don’t support the movement, and it’s not that I’m a hater, but maybe I’m just too lazy to type #lightupnigeria after every tweet, or after every other tweet. I’m an “as little stress as possible” type of guy. I’m very hard working don’t get me wrong, in fact people who know me well know I’m a workaholic, but I want that hard work to be as efficient as possible. There’s hard work, and there’s smart work. To all those who are typing it though, more grease to your fingers!
What I dont support though, is how some people diss or express disapointment in others not taking part in this hashtag campaign. Some people have even started seeing me differently just because I don’t type the hashtag. You can afford internet or a blackberry and you’re calling youself patriotic because you’re typing a hashtag? Some Nigerians have never held a blackberry or used the internet in their lives! You for go carry ladder dey pull power cable now. If you don’t like the fact that I don’t type the #lightupnigeria hashtag, please feel free to go and hug a transformer. LOL. We all had frustrations about the power crisis in Nigeria before there was twitter! And I don’t think there’s anybody who is completely pleased with the situation cos it affects us all. So nobody should tell me any BS about not being patriotic or being a hater cos I dont type #lightupnigeria 1000 times a day.
Now what am I getting at? What’s my point? Well it seems different people have different reasons and motives for supporting the movement as much as they do. Of course we are all unhappy with the unstable power supply and want to play our own little roles in making a change blah blah all that good Obama-sounding stuff. People have designed numerous flyers and graphics, there have been numerous media mentions, a Facebook group, t-shirts and all that. There’s even a website up at www.lightupnigeria.org, a very impressive one too. But are there any other targets (or sub-targets) we’re tryna reach here? Apart from the ultimate one which is fixing our power problems. Personal goal or a common goal? For fame or popularity? Genuine motive or ulterior motive? Glorified heroism? Or just for general awareness? Do you just type it cos everyone else is and its kinda “cool” right now? Well whichever way that goes one target or goal that I’ve heard about is to make the #lightupnigeria hastag a trending topic on Twitter, which is what I’m tryna address in this blog post. That sounds like a good target doesnt it? Well yeah it does but the only problem is ITS NOT POSSIBLE! At least not anytime soon. I’m sorry but I’m just tellin it as it is. You see, there are not enough Nigerians on Twitter just yet to make this happen, even if every single one of us put #lightupnigeria at the end of every tweet. I mean I know celebrities like @iamdiddy, @aplusk and @souljaboytellem dont find it hard at all to make the trending topics list but these people have over 1 million followers. I mean if 5% of their followers type a hashtag that’s still at least 50,000 people. Now I dont think there’s 50,000 active Nigerians on Twitter yet (keyword: yet, before people bite me). But there soon will be the way I see it. The fact that there’s still a somewhat close circle or at least loose ring of the same Nigerians tweeting back and forth on Twitter means there’s not yet that many Nigerians on there. Another fact is that Trending Topics only last for minutes or hours. Is this enough time to “light up nigeria”?
So what’s the way forward with #lightupnigeria? How in the world can this hashtag ever make it on to the Trending Topics list before there are enough Nigerians on Twitter to do so? Afterall #iranelection made it right? Well the Iran Election was international news and people from all over the world were talking about it and typing that hashtag. But we’re Nigerians now, aren’t we? We always find a way around everything (LOL). So here are a few ways to do ojoro and make #lightupnigeria a trending topic on Twitter:
- Cause a big scene and do something news-worthy. Remember the old women from Ekiti who walked through the streets topless? Well all our female #lightupnigeria fighters should feel free to try this route. Maybe if we had younger women doing it CNN just might drop in to cover the story and #lightupnigeria goes worldwide! Even though this still doesn’t fix our power issues.
- Rally the support of Twitter celebrities. Imagine @souljaboytellem or @iamdiddy or @aplusk or @oprah asking everyone to type in #lightupnigeria? Their “followers” are sure to follow. This will probably trigger option#1 above too and attract international media coverage. So think of it as a 2-in-1 without the need to take any clothes off. One way of getting this done without actually knowing any of these celebs is for everyone who types in #lightupnigeria right now to add @iamdiddy to it to attract Diddy’s attention and maybe if in 1 day he gets 500 @ replies with #ligthtupnigeria in them, he’d get a bit curious. Oprah is probably the best celeb to target with this but I’m not sure she checks her Twitter herself.
- Continue the current hustle and hope a miracle happens or Twitter’s servers erroneously make #lightupnigeria a trending topic. The problem with this option is that it’s human nature for people to get tired. The longer it takes for #lightupnigeria to trend the fewer mentions there will be. Even though every time power goes off I’m sure those fingers will start itching again to type #lightupnigeria. It’s kinda like the modern way to say “UP NEPA” isn’t it? LOL. That’s why I would recommend option #2 above to save you all some resultless finger-muscle-building. At least if your finger’s will get stronger over #lightupnigeria lets see results abi?
Right now the #lightupnigeria campaign (both on and off Twitter) is already gaining momentum and going strong. But option #2 above will be a smart way to make it grow a lot faster. Now how will all this translate into stable power supply? Well we all know our President is already on the matter, even though he has made promise after promise, maybe this will speed things up a bit even if its by a few days. Maybe the campaign can also gather international pressure on the Nigerian government to fix the issue.
Now I don’t want to go into how much of corruption is involved in the current power crisis, how much money is being made from diesel and generator sales in Nigeria or discourage anybody’s efforts, but the power issue is a lot more serious than many Nigerians can ever imagine. I’m just keeping it 100% here. The level of corruption is absurd and Nigeria is not exactly a country where public voice is ever heard (yet, keyword: yet). America just had historic elections in which the first ever black president was elected. How it happened we don’t know but we all hope Nigeria will get there someday, where the voice of the people can and will make real impact on the direction of the country. That’s why whoever is currently actively involved in this campaign should keep doing whatever he/she is doing, because if nobody decides to do something, nothing will happen.