Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana) Dr. Kojo Asante has stated that the adoption of social media in mobilising citizenry support for the #FixTheCountry campaign prompted government to respond immediately.
Speaking as guest at a public forum on press freedom organised by the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Dr Asante said government’s knowledge of the power of social media compelled it to engage actively in an effort to counter-respond to the online campaign through marketing promotions.
He further stated: “The modern forms of government inform that it tunes into social media and is aware of impressions that are being formed by people making up their minds with contents they receive online.”
He added that more people are joining the bandwagon online due to benefits such as low transaction cost, which includes protesting from the comfort of their homes while reducing risks of being physically assaulted and ultimately making the campaign more attractive.
The virtual forum was dubbed ‘#FixTheCountry: Protest Movement Practices and Contentious Politics in a Digital Age’.
Dr Asante opined that although social media has proven to be a very active space for mobilising support for campaigns such as #FixTheCountry, there is however no concrete guarantee between online medium protest and achieving protest objective of public accountability and development.
“There is no empirical research to prove and assure results although it gets the grievances of the people to be heard and may stop government to react in the short term but not necessarily in the medium to long term.”
In terms of the form of messaging used in pushing the campaign on social media platforms, Dr Asante stated that he believes the campaign goes beyond the systematic and developmental problems the country faces on a regular basis.
According to him, the campaign revealed a sense of frustration amongst the Ghanaian populace and a deep mistrust in the political arrangement of the State in delivering basic public services to its citizens.
However, the government’s counter response of #FixYourself must be accommodated as it also plays into the idea of becoming a citizen but not a spectator.
By Gabriel Odonkor|Accra,Ghana