" ITREALMS: Fuel Subsidy Removal protests: Nigerian Tweeps cautious of State agents monitoring

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fuel Subsidy Removal protests: Nigerian Tweeps cautious of State agents monitoring

Proponents of social media aspect of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as tools for revolutionary strike action which commenced across the country on Monday have cautioned Nigerians to be wary of agents of the State monitoring online conversations.

Tweeps is a conjunction of Twitter and Peeps resulting into ‘tweeps,’ which is commonly used to refer to the Twitter flowers of someone or Tweet enthusiasts.

ITRealms Online gathered that proponents of nationwide protest against the removal of fuel subsidy by the Nigerian president on January 1, 2012, including the famous Enough-is-Enough Nigeria (EiENigeria), OccupyNigeria and Save Nigeria Group among others.

The coordinating civil society groups enjoined protesters to ensure they use technology to plan but note that agents of the State are monitoring conversations.

“Treat sensitive information with caution,” the group told Tweet followers.

They further advised Tweeps who are using Short Messaging Service (SMS) to first connect their account to their mobile numbers, saying that subscribers on Airtel or MTN could send START to 40404, while those on Glo could send START to 20644 to connect.

They equally said that Tweeps using this module would be required to complete a one-time login with your username (twitter handle) and password, explaining that “No downloads” is needed, although each SMS will cost you N10.

According to the proponents, SMS allows 160 characters, compared to Twitter is 140, hence, they advised protesters to keep their tweets below 140 characters so that it will be delivered.

“Please use popular hash tags, for instance the #FuelSubsidy or #OccupyNigeria in your tweets so that any emergency requests could be picked up for action,” the group advised.

In addition, the group cautioned those who may be using a public computer to send sensitive information, clear the cache so no one could gain access to information.

For most browsers, experts in the group counseled that if you press “Shift+Ctrl” then “Delete”, you will get the “Clear Browsing Data” option. Clear as required, adding that protesters could keep sensitive information a bit more secured by making sure they only send such to people they know and trust, otherwise, they should use Direct Messaging.

ITRealms Online also gathered that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has promised to be on standby to assist with legal issues during the strike, even as they warned Nigerians to stay nonviolent and report every suspicion to protest coordinators.

Meanwhile, current tension in the land over the removal of fuel subsidy has forced new media enthusiasts in the country to carry their grievances to the internet by relying on social media networks to share grievances and strategies for the total strike.

While some use Facebook, others chose Twitter, YouTube and Yfrog to name a few of the social media networks on the Internet to distribute information.

This came as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) have variously denied rumours making a round that services, especially on the Blackberry offering would be cut off to avert impending revolt by Nigerians using mobile technology devices in communicating during the strike.

Even as NBC said every station has the right to cover protest, but must ensure that the interest of the nation takes prime position.

ITRealms Online investigations at the weekend revealed that since the proclamation of the removal of fuel subsidy on Sunday, January 1, 2012 by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, Nigerians have taken solace on the Internet to share information especially their hardship following the removal.

Whereas some Nigerians have asked the Jonathan government to cut government waste rather than removing fuel subsidy as his New Year gift to Nigerians, others insisted that charity must start at home with the Presidency cutting on the cost of governance at the Aso Villa.

A public statement made available to ITRealms Online by some civil society organisations, government, they said should make petrol affordable, maintaining that it’s the only thing government do as it does not provide water, electricity, good roads, good health care facilities or good educational opportunities.

The civil society group also said that the removal has forced an increment which has doubled across the country including the cost of transportation, food, health care, and cost of running businesses in addition to the cost of generating electricity through the generating sets, whereas most salaries is now worth at least 35 per cent less as goods and services have tippled on average.

According to the group, although the minimum wage remain N18,000, the government at all levels have not implemented this wholesomely, contending that the government could save money by cutting waste and tackling corruption, most of which exist in the public service.

They noted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently prosecuting former Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, his counterpart from Oyo State, ex-police offer, Adebayo Alao-Akala among others for over N200 billion.

Equally, they argued that the government disburses N250 billion per year as ‘security votes’ to the President and Governors, which they could spend at will.

The 2012 budget, they pointed out has allocated approximated N1 billion to purported ‘feeding’ for the president and the vice president, while the same budget allocated N1.7 trillion wage bill and N675 million to generate power in the Aso Villa and VP’s residence respectively.

They, therefore, urged Nigerians to join the protests in their cities, send a Short Messaging Service (SMS) to share their opinion on 0816666222 and 08120006622 as well as send an electronic mail to info@eienigeria.org.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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