From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The people of the Southeast geopolitical zone, have been urged to fully embrace the social media as a tool to bring development to the region.
The call was made during the 8th Professor Celestine Onwuliri Memorial Lecture titled: “The Role of Social Media in Human Capacity Development and the Development of Igboland” convened by the former Supervisory Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Onwuliri.
The lecture attracted a global audience, including media professionals, students, parents, teachers, political scientists, clergy, traditional rulers, legal and medical practitioners, engineers, information technology specialists, human and women’s rights activists, community development experts, members of civil society, among others.
In attendance were His Royal Majesty, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Revd (Prof) Godfrey Igwebuike Onah; former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih; Elected Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitral Tribunal, London and Chairman of the Occasion, Professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN); a United States-based Pharmaceutical Executive and International Scholar, Professor Eddie Oparaoji, who doubled as the guest speaker, amongst others.
The Presenters and discussants examined the issue of social media, its ubiquity, growth, accessibility, pros and cons, and its viability as among a veritable tool for human capacity development and the development of Igbo land.
In a communique signed by Dr. Chinemerem Dan Onwuliri and Dr Jude Iheoma, Program Committee Chair/Moderator and Program Coordinator respectively, the participants said the application of social media tools remained a viable approach to facilitating the development of the southeast, economically, politically, culturally and educationally.
They added that the benefits of the social media must be rigorously explored by government and the private sector in order to ensure the development of the region.
In the communique, the participants stated that the “aku ruo ulo” paradigm should be the subject for #hashtag activism online to raise the consciousness of Igbos all over the world on the need to think and look homewards for investments, development and expansion of their current businesses and economic concerns.
The personalities which graced the occasion also called for the establishment of Professor Celestine Onwuliri Institute, for translating developmental concepts to Actions.
“This will be a think tank of sorts where scholars, experts, practitioners can come together and think up the next best actions based on conversations or outcomes of the memorial lectures and other scholarly activities. The institute or center will also be a place of pilgrimage that will bring innovators to Mbaise,” the communique read.
The participants also called on the government to pragmatically approach suggestions by some actors who believe social media use should be banned or restricted, with utmost caution, as the platform’s positives far outweigh the negatives.
They further asked that governments at all levels should create and expand avenues to increase teaching and learning about the beneficial and technical aspects of social media use and its application to local economic growth by increasing awareness of the beneficial use of new media tools by the populace.
Politicians and leaders of southeast extraction, the participants also said, should embrace the social media platforms as a means of engaging with constituents and Nigerians as well, so as to secure their voices as relevant to the issues concerning the people during their time in office and beyond.
They also called on the people of the Southeast to explore, facilitate and/or sponsor long distance learning opportunities for knowledge and/or skills acquisition through social media platform.
The participants also called for the exploration and implementation of youths/schools targeted awareness campaign on how to get the best out of social media.
In his opening remarks, Azinge said the late Professor Celestine Onwuliri was “a Nigerian genius whose work made huge impact on the community and the country at large.”
While welcoming the dignitaries, speakers and guests who participated in the conference, Azinge also appreciated Professor Viola Onwuliri for her steadfastness in continuing the legacy of her loving husband and touching lives through the activities of the Professor Celestine Onwuliri Foundation (PROFOUND).
On her part, Professor Onwuliri spoke on the need to use the social media to promote the Igbo language in order to ensure grassroot appreciation and development.