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Nigerian Governor Reportedly Pays Bloggers for Meet-Up

A group photograph of delegates and the Dr Fayemi at the #Ekiti State Social Media/Bloggers Interactive Forum. [Image by Olumide (@gboukzi) and used with his permission]

A group photograph of delegates at the #Ekiti State Social Media/Bloggers Interactive Forum with Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti State (middle with wine red cap). Photo by Olumide (@gboukzi). Used with his permission

In a rather unprecedented move, the government of Ekiti State in Nigeria invited some bloggers and social media enthusiasts to meet with the state Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is up for re-election in early summer this year, with the aim of giving Nigerian bloggers a direct opportunity to assess the developmental strides in the state and also to engage the governor.

As was appropriate for a social media meet-up, the forum was announced via the Ekiti State government's Twitter handle. Some celebrated the state government's recognition of social media and blogging.

Others took issue with the news that that bloggers who attended the event were paid 50,000 Nigerian Naira (about 307 US dollars). 

Given that ‘brown pocket envelope’ syndrome has been the bane of traditional journalism in Nigeria and many of the bloggers are avouched critics of the government and any waste of public funds, conversation online zeroed in on the perceived double standards. 

Public commentator Feyi asked: 

Influential Nigerian political Twitter commentator Chike did the arithmetic of double standards:

Mr Ebube D Patriot, a member of the ruling party, posited:

Sports journalist Temisan said: 

But some tweets were just sarcastic. For instance, Emeka, a government party tweep, said:

Nonetheless, not everyone was partisan in their analysis of the meeting. Mr Mobility (@Mister_Mobility), a mobile content curator, speaker and blogger, wrote the following post:    

1. Government is waking up to the power of social media 

[...] a government has recognised the power of bloggers and social media and have created an opportunity to engage. This is a good move. We can expect more state governments to follow suit…

2. The question of propaganda

Some people are rightly bothered that such a forum is just another avenue to push government propaganda. Yes; that is likely so. But here is how it works. Invited bloggers are under obligation to report exactly what they see and hear – even if it is propaganda…

3. The question of payment

I have no idea whether or not the invited individuals were paid for the exercise, but I would hope that they were! People expecting bloggers not to be paid are odd. None of them work for their employer or clients for free…

4. The question of objectivity

When someone is hosting you and maybe also paying you, there is the question of how objective you can be. This is where people who understand business have no problems. They can separate issues. As mentioned above, news reporting is different from writing opinion. Separate the two and there are no issues…

5. The question of ethics

Hosting a bloggers’ forum is no more unethical than calling a press conference or having a TV media chat. It is the same thing. Only the platform is different. There is nothing unethical about the Ekiti State Government hosting a social media or bloggers forum.

Others saw the forum as a good thing. On Twitter, Nedu was surprised by the uproar about the meet-up:

One blogger who attended the event endorsed the governor for re-election: 

 

I am impressed by how prudent and transparent Kayode Fayemi has been in the execution of projects in Ekiti State. Contracts are awarded at very modest and verifiable amounts, an example being the laptop project in which each unit costs about N60,000. [...]

Kayode Fayemi has done well over the past three years and I urge the good people of Ekiti to give him a chance to continue the good work he has started by voting him as their governor for a second term. I urge them to be vigilant and hold him accountable at all times. As he goes about his campaign, visiting cities, towns and villages in the state, he will make promises and commitments, and they must hold him to these from day one of his second tenure.

My name is Ogunyemi Bukola (@zebbook), and I endorse John Kayode Fayemi for a second term as governor of Ekiti State.

Another user neither supported the Ekiti bloggers meeting nor the traditional media good governance tour by the Minister of Information Labaru Maku. But he did not begrudge the bloggers who honoured the invitation: 

However, other members of Nigerian social media and blogosphere had other problems with #JKFeedback, as the meet-up's hashtag was called. For instance, Twitter user Mr. Kermit argued that bloggers are not needed for the people of Ekiti to assess the government's pace of development. The citizens of the state can see it for themselves:    

This same line was toed by O'Femi: 

Opinion River thought it was mere window-dressing by the Ekiti State government:   

Anther user called it was shameful: 

Attai predicted newspaper headlines:

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  • Michael Chima Ekenyerengozi

    Everybody has a price, but only the best will get the prize.
    Many of the bloggers have little or no influence, so they need the handouts to makes ends meet.

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