Dear Young Influencer: Choose Your Words. Be Mindful Of Your Reputation

What is the biggest advice to give a young person entering the Nigerian political space?

Some may say having the right godfather, in the case where you are contesting for a position, is a must. You may be warned to be ready to trade your integrity and values for “a little” duplicity. Of course, you must have a confident source of money because you will burn a lot.

But from the fallout of Oby Ezekwesili’s withdrawal from the presidential race last week, the most important thing is to watch what you say and to whom you say what to.

One of Dr Ezekwesili’s biggest supporters, in her short-lived campaign, was Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. Those familiar with the tech scene have no need of an introduction to him, having played founding roles in Andela and Flutterwave. Everybody in Nigeria tech knows Iyin and he has good networks beyond the shores of Nigeria.

He absolutely threw his weight behind Madam Oby’s campaign, many times appearing to be the lone warrior defending her against taunts of trolls who dismiss her chances and accuse her of all things absurd and fabricated.

But staking his influence almost came at the cost of integrity, with the allegation by the ACPN that Ezekwesili was plotting to be Finance Minister in Buhari’s new tenure. They pointed to Iyin as the source of this gossip.

The accusations did not make sense and both Iyin and Mrs Ezekwesili issued denials in no uncertain terms. Their reputations made their denials easily believable, ending the matter. Only those who saw some political profit in shaming them dragged it on social media for a while, but that did not last.

Moral of the story: Politics is still a dirty game featuring actors capable of springing the most pungent of accusations. Social media and technology make this more possible than before as there are more methods of creating material for defamation. There is a certain trap for young people in seeking to be influential and viral that they potentially become less mindful of the need to be particular about how they engage.

Choose your words carefully. Not all DMs are safe spaces for dropping off tips. Even if tweeted in error and deleted in seconds, a valid screenshot is enough to ruin a hard-fought reputation. ACPN had no material proof with which to ruin Iyin but you imagine there are many young people tied indefinitely to certain slimy godfathers because records and receipts exist of things they have said. Don’t be that unfortunate person.

At last check this evening, it does seem Iyin has deactivated his Twitter. Given the risk to one’s reputation that could come with it, taking time off is a valid experience some of us may consider as well, especially if you do not absolutely need it for your job and life. You may actually live more cheerfully if you try it.

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One Reply to “Dear Young Influencer: Choose Your Words. Be Mindful Of Your Reputation”

  1. Tema says:

    Great read! Thanks

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