News / Africa

Twitter Protest Takes Aim at Nigeria's World Economic Forum for Africa

Policemen take down evidence at the scene of a car bomb attack in Nyanya, Abuja, May 2, 2014.
Policemen take down evidence at the scene of a car bomb attack in Nyanya, Abuja, May 2, 2014.
Heather Murdock
Nigeria will be hosting the World Economic Forum for Africa this week, drawing more than 1,000 delegates, including many heads of state.  But with hundreds of schoolgirls still held captive by Islamist militants, some activists say security forces should not be focused on protecting the capital.  The activists are planning an online protest to out-Tweet the forum.
 
Schools and government offices in the Nigerian capital will be closed for three days this week during the World Economic Forum for Africa - commonly referred to as WEFA.
 
FILE - Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, August 24, 2012.FILE - Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, August 24, 2012.
x
FILE - Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, August 24, 2012.
FILE - Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, August 24, 2012.
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says security will be on high alert, after nearly 100 people were killed in two bombings at a bus station in the past month just outside the city.
 
“We are going to do the maximum necessary to make sure that our guests are safe and protected," she promised.

April 15 was also the day more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamist militants.  Most of them remain missing.  
 
Okonjo-Iweala says, like most Nigerians, she is more concerned with the rescue of the girls than the outcome of the forum.
 
“We are all saddened as a nation that our girls are missing," she said. "For me personally as a mother of four children, including one girl, and as a Nigerian this is painful for us to bear.  And I want to tell you a far more important issue to us than anything else.”

Distraction from real problems

But some activists say the forum is a distraction from Nigeria’s real problems, especially the missing girls.  
 
Executive Director Yemi Adamolekun, of the Nigerian human rights organization Enough Is Enough, has been demanding the rescue of the girls.  She says the forum should be postponed until the girls are found.
 
“It is very important for us that we do send a strong message that WEFA cannot be more important than the lives of Nigerians.  Even if it is one girl,” she said.  

Militants known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.  The group has been blamed for thousands of deaths in the past five years, mostly in the northeast.  And despite almost a year of emergency rule in the region, the violence appears to be spreading.  
 
Tweet strategy

To protest the World Economic Forum for Africa, Adamolekun says her group plans to out-Tweet the forum, hoping to keep hashtag  #WEFA from "trending", which means becoming one of the hottest topics on Twitter.
 
"For us we believe in the power of social media," she explained.  "A lot of people say ‘Oh you are just chatting online.’  But we do believe that its extremely powerful and we have seen it work.  It is a space that we control and we tend to do that.  For WEFA for example one of our things we plan to do is to make sure that WEFA does not trend."

Enough is Enough has been tweeting hashtag  #BringBackOurGirls to its nearly 47,000 followers.  

The hashtag (#), one of several associated with demands to rescue the girls, has reached tens of millions of people and drawn international attention to the kidnapping.  Adamolekun says she hopes hashtag #BringBackOurGirls will be re-tweeted more than hashtag #WEFA during the forum.
 
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to save the girls.  He says Nigeria is seeking international assistance to address its security problems.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: X from: Lagos
May 05, 2014 3:47 PM
This is a load of BS. Do the people tweeting think they are dealing with reasonable human beings? Have they stopped to ask themselves if those decrepit old fossils even use or pay attention to Twitter. This cannot be the best we can come up with. If they are going to be dealt with they need to be hit hard. Our disgraceful president and senate are playing us for fools and we are just there passively taking everything. Boko Haram is just the tip of the iceberg- if we do not act and take back what is ours then there is more trouble to follow. If we continue to focus on our petty differences we would not move forward as a country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs