Home Community Insights Revisiting Nigerian Past Social Mobilization Initiatives

Revisiting Nigerian Past Social Mobilization Initiatives

Revisiting Nigerian Past Social Mobilization Initiatives

Taking collaborative acts for collective benefit is challenging in practically every civilization. This has been mostly attributed to potential conflicts of interest or ulterior motives that people typically have when they are in public places. Sometimes people believe that performing activities with collective rewards is expensive since some of the beneficiaries may not even contemplate putting in their own resources to realise the benefits. In other words, some recipients relied on people who are patriotic and willing to ensure collective well-being over individual ones. 

Meanwhile, when a society is rapidly depleting its social, economic, and political principles, the patriotic ones must maintain their motivational drive in order to motivate others. According to our analysis, this appears to be what Nigeria and its people have previously experienced during Mass Mobilisation for Social Justice and Economic Recovery, War Against Indiscipline, Green Revolution Nigeria, Operation Feed Nation and other initiatives. However, it is currently nearly impossible for a substantial number of persons to embrace and uphold the principle. 

According to our analyst’s observational study, the majority of Nigerians are less interested in actively participating in social reengineering and change projects. While social networks have extended outside physical settings, our analyst notes that some Nigerians have rarely used their digital platforms to stimulate collective involvement and actions aligned with the government’s social mobilisation programmes. 

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Writing about Nigeria’s War Against Indiscipline in 1984 using a television commercial aired on national and state stations, Clifford May of the New York Times says “In the first scene, an office worker is shown sprawled across his desk, fast asleep. In the second, a secretary paints her fingernails, oblivious to the telephone ringing on her desk. A voice asks, ”How do you spend your working day?” To drive the point home, the camera shifts to a Nigerian air-traffic controller efficiently coordinating arrivals and departures, and then to baggage handlers energetically loading a Nigeria Airways jetiner.

The commercial is one of several promoting the ”War Against Indiscipline,” declared in March by Tunde Idiagbon, one of the two top men in the military Government that overthrew Nigeria’s civilian administration in a coup last Dec. 31. ‘Started People Thinking’”

“Meanwhile, scores of businesses in the country have embarked on wars against indiscipline at the workplace, pasting WAI posters on the walls and pinning WAI buttons on the lapels of their most exemplary workers. Television newscasters wear WAI badges on their traditional robes, and even the hosts of Saturday afternoon children’s programs urge their viewers to ”fight the WAI.”

May further states that the campaign for the initiative was robust to the extent that participating agencies used slogans such ”Is there any dead body abandoned in your street?” to encourage collective participation. A PhD thesis, carried out a few years after the initiative started, also documented public reactions to the campaign, noting that perception and belief about WAI seemed to be mediated by Nigerians’ socio-cultural experience. 

“The impact of WAI messages varied in relation to their relevance to different sections of the audience. It was also found that the practice of WAI ideas was influenced if the messages were perceived as real possibilities. Finally, in their reception WAI messages had both intended and unintended effects on all categories of citizens, who participated in the study.”

Leveraging Appropriate Social Mobilisation Principles

Similar to the PhD study, a number of scholarly works and studies from non-governmental organizations identified institutional and behavioural elements that influenced both the favourable and unfavourable results of the aforementioned endeavour. The public’s high degree of mistrust towards political and military leadership resulted in a lack of cooperation with the agencies and persons tasked with making sure the programs were executed effectively. It also became apparent that execution was impacted by a lack of sufficient financial resources. 

Our analyst observes that there is a need to vary the social mobilisation principles being employed for the design and implementation of social mobilisation initiatives that the present and future governments would conceive and carry out. One of the guiding principles is the willingness of the government and its accountable ministries, agencies, and departments to develop initiatives that are more tailored to specific socioeconomic groups and political perspectives. 

It is also critical that reputation-related behaviours are entrenched in communication infrastructure and materials utilised for collective mobilisation. To stimulate a chain of acts, both infrastructure and materials must be employed in accordance with what people believe and should do. 

When social mobilisation initiatives match people’s behaviours with how they genuinely see or would like to see themselves, they typically yield greater results. Using the framework of people’s personal networks and the platforms that support them makes social mobilisation initiatives more likely to succeed.

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