Today several Government agencies are on social media. In the US and Canada where I spent 35 years, the police departments were the first to appear on them. Toronto Police Service was the first law enforcement agency to get on social media specifically Facebook and Twitter. They used it to interact with the public and the turnout was initially low as some citizens were scared of commenting on a police page.
Later the audience grew and every topic was discussed. I remember leaving Canada and the TPS released statements that “she has the ability to bring people together on social media that we as a department couldn’t do”. I was a police volunteer convincing people to speak out on gun violence, police brutality and even the death of an officer caused by an alleged criminal.
In Africa, the Nigerian Senate, many Governors, Senators and members of government are on social media, many with verified accounts. Not every single one but quite a large amount. The Nigerian government has signed up most federal agencies on Twitter and Facebook and with the small amount of followers, their voices are still heard by the public. From the Federal Ministry of Information to the Federal Road Safety Corps, many healthy and robust updates are made daily that affect the quality of life of the public. We are still demanding the Federal Ministry of health back on twitter as well as the NAFDAC food and drug health sector.
Kenya is another country in Africa that has excelled on social media. President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Twitter and Facebook and so is Margaret Kenyatta his wife and First Lady who participates in many daily events. However Nigeria’s wife of the president Aisha Buhari only uses Twitter and not Facebook. State government agencies are also very prominent on social media in both countries and they still have to promote their presence to the public.
During the Ebola crisis, the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health was using Facebook with a closed wall. The public could not speak out on the disease and what was happening in their communities. I called them to let them know and it was opened later as knowing how to use social media is important. If you are a government agency, you want to be heard by the public. By the end of 2017, more African government agencies will eventually have a social media platform.