Before 2011 and 2012, most people in Cross River State had felt their voice never counted in the State. Many citizens complained about the activities of government in the confines of their homes, or within the earshot of trusted family members and friends.
Over the years, Cross Riverians were scared to speak out and even demonstrate on the streets, or even checkmate the excesses of government as they do now, many were scared that if they speak out they would be killed or maimed. And so everyone kept a huge silence on issues affecting them and their hopes dashed because of fear and the lack of an enabling environment to speak out and voice out their views.
But thank God for the Internet and the Freedom of Information Act signed by former President Jonathan that has made things easier for Nigerians and the people of Cross River State in particular.
The new media has broken the chain of silence in Cross River State, the new media has helped in government communication to the general public and the governed communicating to the government. Cross River State, has joined the rest of the global community in this new trend of governance that has taken over the cyberspace of Nigeria politics.
Youths, old and young, rich and poor have keyed into the new media, by participating in the governance process of the State. And by so doing, government can no longer take the People for granted because times have changed. The governed now know that their voice and views matters. And when they speak it reaches the establishment.
Before 2012, Cross River State was out of the news. Our people lacked publicity and Cross River people were yearning for a bail out from darkness. From the traditional media that had poor reportage and couldn’t deliver to the people. The over reliance on the radio, newspaper and television wasn’t good for our State because of the strict censorship by government. The traditional media gave the government what it wanted to hear and kept the people in darkness.
However, with the use of Information Technology in Cross River State, our people keyed into the medium by communicating via mail, sending messages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging etc. Our people keyed in immediately making life better and easier by contributing their quarter.
Late in 2012, the prolific Agba Jalingo hit the cyberspace with his www.crossriverwatch.com. He created a soft landing for other new media outlets that came on board. He worked assiduously in making sure news and information was proliferated in all quarters of the State.
Seeing his good work, other online medium joined in such as www.calitown, www.paradisevoice.com, www.undergroundwatch.com, www.negriodhaven.com, www.crossriverdaily.com, crossrivereyes.com, martyeteng.com, calabarblog.com, mycrossriver.com and many more. Making new media the center stage for communication in the State.
Seeing the importance of the new media, the people of the State used it effectively during the last elections selling and promoting their preferred candidates. The medium has been properly utilized by the people of Cross River. Both government and private individuals have used the medium to send messages and add value to the State. Which is very welcoming and commendable.
Seeing the importance and the role the new media played in the last elections, the Governor of the State keyed into the technological trend by appointing young men who are technologically savvy as his aides, this trend saw to the appointment of Mr. Eval Asikong as Personal Assistant on Social Media and Mr. Inok Solomon as Personal Assistant on Media.
It is true that social media has come to stay in Cross River State and with the appointment of Eval Asikong and Inok Solomon, it shows that the Ayade led administration has identified the importance of the medium in bringing governance to the people of the State. But a lot has to be done in proliferation of information in the State because most persons in our rural areas do not have access to the Internet. Radio and television still need to be empowered to meet the yearning of our people who do not have access to the internet.
Cyber activities have come to stay in Cross River State, and it has a lot to do towards impacting on governance. It needs to be embraced by everyone in the State because it stands as the catalyst needed to reach the government and the governed.
Prince Thomas Abi Jr. is a Public Affairs Analyst /Social Commentator
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