By Joel Popoola
Nigeria’s largest social media platform is finally fighting fake news – but not in Nigeria
Whatsapp is Nigeria’s biggest social network and can be found on the phones of 85% of Nigerian social media users, but too often the platform is used to spread dangerous misinformation.
During the last Ebola outbreak, Whatsapp users were told to bathe in saltwater to protect themselves from the deadly disease. As a result, at least two people died.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has been no different, with raw onion, olive oil, garlic and shaving all preposterously peddled as a “miracle cure” in a pandemic which has already claimed the lives of almost 1000 Nigerians.
This week, the app has finally taken action to stop the spread of fake news on its platform by introducing a magnifying glass icon next to messages forwarded at least five times.
By clicking on the icon users can quickly search the internet to see if the claims are true.
But not in Nigeria.
So far, only users in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are able to use the fact-checking service.
If people weren’t already using the internet to verify claims like ”the disease which has killed over 700,000 people around the world can be stopped in its tracks by leaving an onion on your carpet” before forwarding them to their friends and family, I’m not sure how much an emoji is likely to change – but at least it’s something.
But it is incredible that over 20 million Nigerian users are being excluded from this service – not least given the comparatively low levels of digital literacy in our nation compared to countries where the fact-checking facility is being rolled out.
Ultimately, Nigeria needs a high profile national digital literacy campaign to help social media users to better critically consider the information they see online.
With so much political information being shared online – much of it just as unreliable as the medical advice above – our democracy depends upon it as much as our health and safety.
This campaign must come hand-in-hand with a renewed effort to build a digitally-skilled workforce for the twenty-first century – with the World Bank estimating that less than one percent of African children currently leave school with basic programming computer skills.
We also need to remove data charges from online educational resources.
Whatsapp is Nigeria’s biggest social network simply because users do not need to use much data to access it. The fact the government remains indifferent to calls to make this the case for learning resources, especially when so many youngsters need helping catching up with their schooling after the disruption of the coronavirus, is impossible to understand.
Until then, we need social media companies to take the necessary steps to protect their users from fake news and harmful half-truths. And at the Digital Democracy campaign, which I lead, we’re already doing our bit.
Our free Rate Your Leader app allows voters to get vital information direct from their elected representatives, person to person, straight from their smartphone.
If they think the information they get isn’t reliable or honest, they can rate the source of that information accordingly, directing their neighbours to information sources which are reliable and credible.
At the same time, politicians can get potentially life-saving messages straight to people in their communities, as well as building a more accurate picture of what matters most to the people they serve.
My inspiration for the app came after spending time in Britain, where local politicians are much easier to contact than we are used to in Nigeria. I even managed to meet the Speaker of the British Parliament as a Nigerian living 300 miles away from London!
A lot of the time in Nigeria, we have no idea who our local leaders are and how we are supposed to contact them – and many of them seem happy to keep it that way!
Apps like Rate Your Leader are designed to tackle this, and help move our nation towards a new era of democratic transparency and accountability.
The digital age has the potential to reconnect people and politics without politicians or the people they serve ever having to leave their sofas.
Sadly, when it comes to being signposted to trustworthy information online, it is hard to escape the sense that the major social networks are once again allowing Nigeria to fall behind.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner and is the founder of the free Rate Your Leader app. You can reach Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola or on Joel@rateyourleader.com
Food for Living: A Solid Relationship Precedes Success
By Henry Ukazu
Dear Destiny Friends,
Relationships are very vital for our success. It is rather unfortunate that many people don’t understand the rationale behind, as well as the influential nature of having a dynamic relationship. It is imperative to note that we are all products of relationships. We relate with our spouses, children, friends, family, colleagues, and humanity in general. It is often advised to be civil to all, social to many, and familiar to few. However, having the ability to nurture these relationships is very important in life. But of more important is being able to decipher how to relate to each, and knowing the exact persons you admit into a relationship. Note that a wise man once said “be careful who you let into your ship because some people will sink the whole ship just because they can’t be the captain”. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Notwithstanding, we are not unaware that relationships are very important in our lives. We are all products of relationships. We are created as relational beings. We live for relationships. Little wonder when God wants to bless us, he uses people. Of course, when the devil wants to mess us up, he also uses people. Relationships will either make or mar us, so it is wise to ensure that we don’t allow toxic relationships, and we don’t take beneficial relationships for granted.
Before you relate to anyone, you must relate with yourself. You can never relate cordially with others if you cannot relate with yourself. A better relationship with yourself begins with understanding yourself. If you cannot relate to yourself, you will find it difficult to relate with others. Many people don’t understand themselves and therefore, find it difficult to relate with others.
Every relationship is literally different. Just as our faces look different, our attitudes, behaviours, character and instincts are different. Every relationship needs different ingredients to thrive. A business relationship needs trust, discipline, understanding and honesty to thrive, while a marital relationship needs romance, honesty, tolerance, understanding, communication, compromise, trust, sacrifice, and compatibility to thrive.
Just to let you how powerful a relationship is, in some social parlance, it is often said that if God wants to bless a man, he sends a man and if he wants to destroy a man, he sends a woman. Relationships come in different ways; your relationship with your wife can make or mar you. If you marry the wrong person, your life will take a different route, but if you marry right, he/she will attract opportunities, blessings, and a good support system for you.
In business, the ability to meet your clients and customers where they are is critical to your success. People will do business with you if they trust and like you. Building relationships doesn’t entail relating only with the high and mighty in society. It does not mean relating with only productive people. Yes, these sets of minds are very resourceful and should be generally used for evaluation, but do you know that a good relationship with a security officer, cleaner, cook, artisan, and the low class in the society can be the icing on your cake that will change the course of your life. This is because they may have access to your potential investor.
In order to have a fruitful relationship, it is important to study emotional intelligence because it will go a long to manage the vicissitudes of life in addition to letting you know if the relationship is for you or not. Emotional intelligence deals with self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, social management, and then empathy. These are very important for a successful relationship, and need to be well managed.
As human beings, we are products of two major factors 1. Nature – how we were born and 2. Nurture – How we grow (parents, environment, school, friends, experiences, etc.). These two factors put together determines our make and personalities. Emotional intelligence will help you to nurture your relationship.
We all desire to have a fruitful relationship, no doubt. It can be in our personal or professional capacity. However, it is important to note that there’s no formula or script for any successful relationship; one needs to be deliberate and intentional to make it work. A relationship is simply like a gift that’s yet to be open. No one sees the full picture of a gift, the same is applicable to a relationship. You can hardly tell the surprise character or attitude your partner can spring up during your relationship. Therefore, an individual’s level of emotional intelligence will determine a lot. Good emotional intelligence will help you to be aware and manage your partners’ emotions, creating a room to accommodate mistakes and learning to forgive.
In order to have a successful marital relationship, here are some bullet points to avoid
1. The urge to control your spouse, partner, people, etc. Resist this urge nor matter how hard it tries to raise its ugly head. For instance, if you are the provider for the family and you are a female, resist the urge to control or manipulate your spouse. Any form of manipulation is witchcraft.
2. Avoid the need to always be right at all costs. Generally, in marriage, there’s no winner and loser. You either win together or lose together. The best way to approach this issue is by applying the best interest judgment. Both parties must hear each other and select the best point.
3. Resist the temptation to retaliate and not forgive. Avoid the habits of digging up past hurts and wounds to retaliate. In marriage, you are bound to hurt each other, the ability to tolerate is very vital to the success of your marriage.
4. Resist the urge to criticize far more than you encourage: Marriage needs appreciation and support to grow. However, if you are to criticize, you must do it constructively. If you are criticized objectively, two things are possible; if it is untrue, ignore the urge to be irritated, but if it is true, it is not a criticism, it’s a lesson; learn from it.
5. Communicate how you feel. Communication is the life wire of any marital relationship. Without communication, the marriage dies just like a plant dies without water. Communication works in different forms for different people. Communication helps to build intimacy in marriage. Words are very important in marriage, in fact, they can ignite a fire that can lead to the dissolution of a marriage if the wrongly used.
Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a mindset coach and public speaker. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via email@example.com
Developing Yourself for Effective Leadership (Pt. 1)
By Tolulope A. Adegoke
“It is the role of every wise man or woman to help one another to put the ‘kid’ in the ‘king’ to sleep in the day, when work calls, and to wake the ‘kid’ in the ‘king’ at night when it is time to rest. This is an indication that only a ‘teachable’ spirit can help us build and re-build ourselves to the perfect stature as ordained by God Almighty for the true display of the authentic leadership role that Man has been called to display before other creations. It is, therefore, clear to us, as peoples, corporates and nations; that true leadership starts from within because no one can give what he or she doesn’t have in possession. Your world ‘within’ awaits you, so as to be able to furnish your world ‘without’”. – Tolulope A. Adegoke
The book of reveals Proverbs 24:3-5,7 (KJV) reveals that: “3through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: 4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 5A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength. 7Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.”
It is pertinent to note that every house, home or relationship is built and maintained by Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding.
Wisdom – is a divine encounter into strategic realms to flourish, which is mostly imparted on you when you seek God for it. James 1:5 (KJV) unveils that: “whosoever lacketh wisdom, let him ask from the Lord that giveth it liberally” – that is why it is the combination of two major words: Wise and Dominion which equals toWIS(e)DOMinion (that is, only the wise dominates). These operational words elevate you into kingdoms or territories as a commander (goodly and Godly Manifestations). Wisdom comes in packaged ideas that look so little because it operates just like dynamite. It comes in small packages, such that you would almost ignore it or underrate it at first; but if adopted guarantees DOMINION which could be split into Do–MINI–ON and On.
Knowledge – This is the combination of three (3) simple words, which are: To KNOW, to Lead, to be LED by counsels, instructions or principles you have been exposed to either by reading (books), experiences or tutelages (Mentorship) or teachings from higher vessels, as these would give you EDGE over others
Understanding – Two cogent words and meanings can be derived here: Under, which connotes submission, while Standing could be said to be elevation, that is, consistently forging as a result of our daily subscriptions to sitting at the feet of masters to learn, observe and do (act) or apply with imparted wisdom in dimensions and realms for desired results beyond the ordinary as long as you remain humble and meek (open to be consistently filled the right values and not being full of your “will” (self). Until you come under knowledge, you will not successfully stand, let alone soar! Until you come under the tree of knowledge, you are likely to die under the scorching heat of ignorance!
So, developing effective leadership starts from empowering yourself, your home, family, before you can advance into the corporates and nations. That’s why God made Adam, first, then later created Eve from what has been made. He started a family, first and later made nations out of them. You must therefore engage the above principles called: Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding to build yourself, first; so as not to become a disaster or a burden to yourself and your partner and even to those connected to you in life and destiny (which may be called generation).
You also need to understand that your life, home, relationships and whatever that you may be building at the moment can only be glorious to the degree of your personal or individual development. It is most important that you build yourself, first.
Take for example, the sensitive roles being played by Deborah, Esther, Sarah, Ruth, amongst others in the Holy Book; you would realize that it took the wisdom (powered by grace) for them to have succeeded, not only for themselves but for their entire generations. The Book of Proverbs 14:1 (KJV) shows us that: “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” In other words, it requires Godly wisdom to build and re-build a house, whether it is a man or a woman. Every wise man or woman maximizes the effects of his or her husband; so it is our duty, to start from within before we launch out to the outside world. It is wise to save yourself first, within, before you go out to save another so as to be able to stand the tests of time. It is important to understand that in every kid, there lies a king; and in every king there lies a kid (the same goes for the Queen also). So, it is the role of every wise man or woman to help one another to put the ‘kid’ in the ‘king’ to sleep in the day, when work calls, and to wake the ‘kid’ in the ‘king’ at night, when it is time to rest. This is an indication that only a ‘teachable’ spirit can help us build and rebuild ourselves to the perfect stature as ordained by God Almighty for the true display of the authentic leadership role that Man has been called to display before other creations. It is, therefore, clear to us, as people, corporates and nations that true leadership starts from within because no one can give what he or she doesn’t have in possession. Your world ‘within’ awaits you, so as to be able to furnish your world ‘without’.
Thank you all for reading.
Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (Awakening The Giant Within You) byTolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin
INEC is Wrong: We Need More Digital Democracy to Build Trust in Our Political Process
By Joel Popoola
The Independent National Electoral Commission has apparently turned its nose up at electronic voting, claiming Nigerians don’t trust our democracy enough for it to work.
They are quite right that Nigerians simply do not trust our political leaders or institutions.
But this is a classic example of “what came first, the chicken or the egg”. And I think INEC is wrong. It is not the case that a lack of trust makes digital democracy impossible. In fact, digital democracy like electronic voting is exactly what Nigeria needs to build trust in our democracy.
Speaking at an event in Ondo State, INEC director Nick Dazang argued:
“The main issue in our election is that of trust. Once we continue to do things transparently and stakeholders, including politicians, media, political parties, observers and civil societies trust INEC, you don’t even need to use sophisticated technology for election”
Dazang claimed that electronic voting is too easily hacked to be trusted by voters.
This of course implies that putting bits of paper in a box and trusting the person watching the box to deliver it to the right place and then trusting the person counting it to count it correctly – or at all – is a foolproof and incorruptible system! If that was true, perhaps Nigerians would trust our democratic processes!
On his main point, Dazang is quite right. What Nigerian democracy needs most is urgent practical steps to address our trust crisis.
72% of Nigerians believe the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes our country well – and six-in-ten say it describes Nigeria “very well”.
Only 39% of Nigerians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in our country, while 60% say they are not satisfied.
And – probably as a result – our voter turnout is the worst in West Africa, 34.8% at the last presidential election compared to 68.6% in Ghana.
Electronic voting can guarantee confidentiality, ensure that only eligible – and living! – voters vote and that the votes they cast actually reflect their choices, and are counted.
And as a year of remote working as a result of COVID-19 has demonstrated, software solutions allowing the secure digital transfer of confidential information are widely available and easy to use, with a year’s worth of relentless international testing to prove it!
A central element of the trust crisis in Nigeria, and across Africa in general, is an absence of credible elections.
Using new technology to address the practical problems which detract from the credibility of our democracy is an opportunity we need to seize.
Other advantages of an electronic system include the faster delivery of election results, increased trust in elections through minimisation of human error and even long-term cost savings.
This is just one of the ways we can take advantage of technology to improve the transparency of and trust in our political process – while making our democracy work faster and more efficiently.
At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we are also working to bring electors and elected closer together.
We’ve developed a free smartphone app – Rate Your Leader – to use smartphone technology to allow elected officials to interact directly with confirmed voters in the divisions they serve – and to do so in a way which makes insulting communication difficult, and dishonest communication undesirable.
This way politicians and people can use Rate Your Leader to engage person-to-person, and understanding each other’s needs and positions. This way, leaders can find out rapidly what matters most to the people who elect them, and collaborate to address those issues. And voters can even rate their politicians for their transparency and accessibility.
And that in turn builds transparency and trust, which are such scarce commodities in our political process.
For INEC to be publicly spurning electronic voting is particularly disappointing following its announcement that in May 2020 that it intended to “pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time, (and) work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”
Universal electronic voting is clearly not viable in a country where many still lack access to reliable and secure internet. But there is nothing stopping us from starting down the path towards becoming Africa’s first truly digital democracy.
Because in 2021, democracy is digital.
More Nigerians own a smartphone than Permanent Voters Card (PVC). And as our experience of Rate Your Leader proves, it isn’t just the most effective and efficient way of conducting political activities, it’s the way that the electorate wants to carry out those activities.
Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app. You can follow Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola