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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora