At midnight on July 14, 2009 a group of young Nigerians suddenly began to express their discontent with the appalling electricity situation in Nigeria. This small group of Twitter acquaintances started a massive demonstration on social media aimed at the frustrating electricity situation. Frequent electrical power blackouts are a major indicator of Nigeria’s infrastructure problem and have long been an impediment to growth.
As noted previously, Nigeria is struggling to meet domestic electricity demands and that creates problems, not just for individuals but also for businesses of all sizes. It is important to note that economic development is intricately intertwined with the sustainable provision of energy, therefore the Nigerian economy has faltered along with its energy situation. Beginning on Twitter, the LUN campaign set off to sensitize and mobilize Nigerians from all walks of life, breaking down confusing technical jargon and using anecdotal evidence to which people could relate. The LUN group held several discussions around strategies and activity plans using Skype, Blackberry group chat, email and Twitter.
Since most of the campaign was Twitter-based, the Facebook page was devoted mainly to sharing stories about electricity or to share campaign videos.
Perhaps the most important radio appearance was the appearance of Light Up Nigeria on the 30th September 2010 BBC World Service broadcast. Sadly, most Nigerians assumed that wealth from oil would automatically translate to useful infrastructure, development and economic growth.
One thing it achieved, however, was particular attention devoted to electricity before and after the 2011 general elections. Certainly, there were major challenges to the quest for progress, but LUN’s smart strategy focused on maximizing online platforms to trigger awareness and built capacity to apply pressure in a way that political actors could not ignore. In fact, economists say that solving the electricity problems could raise gross domestic product (GDP) growth from its current 7 percent a year into double-digits.
Despite showing zero improvement in electricity generation during his presidency, Obasanjo continued to insist, with barely a month left in office, that he was “committed to providing Nigerians with uninterrupted electricity” and invoking the grace of God in doing so. He even inaugurated an Energy Council in February 2008 with a target of delivering 11,000 megawatts by the end of 2011. If you are a student, you cannot read without electricity, and you are forced to depend on unreliable, untenable alternative sources like candles and lanterns.
Online media has been comparatively free from restrictions, though a blogger was detained in January 2011 for questioning the wasteful expenses of a northern Nigerian state.[10] The Nigerian authorities do not filter online content, and while access to information technology is still limited for many Nigerians, the number of internet users nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2011. The number of BlackBerry users appears to be growing, particularly among young Nigerians, though the service costs about US$20 per month. The intention was to drive movement peacefully and not, by any stretch to “blame anyone”.[22] The movement was not aiming to be a fight against corruption in any direct sense.
The group undertook explorations into the various investments in power over time, and went to lengths to get data about power generation and distribution in other countries. Within an eight-week period, the campaign extended to Facebook, YouTube and other new media platforms. On occasions where there was need for instant responses or where immediate decisions need to be finalized, the coordinators used Skype for voice or Blackberry messenger service for text.
Although electricity supply tripled from a meager 1500 megawatts when the campaign started to just over 4500 megawatts by end of 2012, the campaign did not achieve its ultimate goal of ensuring a supply of uninterrupted power supply to every part of Nigeria.
Most likely for the first time, energy occupied the front burner in all political campaigns in any general election in Nigeria. Everyone was focused on the campaign and what it could achieve, but the passage of time might have caused an erosion in energy or determination.
The result of LUN’s campaigns was that electricity became a front-burner issue during the 2011 Nigerian general elections. Outlets were quickly formed in the United Kingdom and the United States, two countries each with a large Nigerian presence.
Until Nigeria addresses these issues South Africa, with its superior industrialization processes and well-maintained infrastructure, will continue to be the leading economy in Africa.
Nigeria was hoping to produce 6,000 megawatts of power by the end of 2012, up from the current vacillating figure of 1,500 megawatts. LUN gave Nigerians a way of saying, “we are tired of empty promises by successive governments to tackle the electricity problem. The group also did a comparative assessment of how the economies of the different countries compared to that of Nigeria, particularly, how functional power supply influences other sectors and national economic growth.
With simple language and shared experiences across the country, it was not long before many young Nigerians signed onto the campaign. Other proposals included: regular evening meetings around the country where participants gather with torches, lanterns or other light sources in a neighborhood with no electricity. This was one of the many humorous ways in which cartoons and graffiti were used as part of the campaign. Except for a few sponsored clips, all the videos were low-budget amateur recordings on laptop or hand devices.
There is no consensus on why the movement put the brakes on its own grinding wheel, even though it had assembled a combination of short and long-term strategies to move from a campaign project to an instrument of change that could affect millions of Nigerians.
Since lack of electricity is a problem that affects everyone, LUN’s campaign theme was easy to understand. In the US alone, there were multiple contact groups covering major cities like New York, Atlanta, Houston and Washington. So now it is time for citizens to take action and generate the popular force that can drive the political resolve to solve the problem”.
In November 2008, a widely circulated YouTube video showed a Navy admiral and several other military officers severely beating a woman whom they deemed too slow in making way for their convoy.[20] Following public outcry, the woman received legal aid from the state government and sued the officers for assault and battery. They also encouraged citizens to become vigilant and prevent sabotage of power installations across the country, which official security agencies seemed unable to police adequately.
The words that make up the tag are self explanatory to any Nigerian, or anyone that has spent a good two weeks in Nigeria and has experienced, firsthand, the impact of lack of electricity in Nigeria. Some of the quick-win ideas were to ask all supporters to wear a black band or dress (representing the lack of electricity) on every last Friday of every month until progress could be shown.
He emphasized that despite billions of dollars of sales of oil and massive degradation of the earth of the Niger Delta region where oil is extracted, Nigeria has little to show for it. Other actors in Nigeria television, video and theatre quickly threw their weight behind the campaign. Use of these platforms saved a lot of time and cost, yet they were effective tools for building strong coordination and understanding among the nucleus of conveners who probably first met on Twitter and were based in far-flung locations. Almost all international media outlets produced documentaries examining specific consequences of poor electricity; often relating it to massive corruption and Nigeria’s position as 7th largest producer of crude oil in the world.
There were also appearances on international radio stations, which broadcast on SW frequencies and have much wider reach. Even though figures vary, there was general accord that investments should cover four areas: power generation, transmission, distribution and alternative energy. If you live in an apartment, you have probably experienced the darkness or the noise of the generators from neighbors and if you own one, you have actually experienced the cost of installing and running a generator.
Finally, group members suggested producing and selling official mementoes (clothing items, books, music albums and other merchandise) to raise funds for a committee that would manage the group’s activities, but also keep the initiative visible and allow its reach to spread further than Nigeria’s shores. Reach is further enhanced as a result of use of the Hausa language, which is widely spoken across a large expanse of geographical space in northern Nigeria and in other parts of West Africa. It was not a political campaign so participants found sufficient reason to attend the meetings. Later campaigns such as Enough is Enough, have grown out of that experience and have become more organized and given voice to many who have never had such an outlet in the past. There was no need for any financial inducement as is the practice for most political events in Nigeria. Several other videos posted on the channel tell pretty much the same story and call for citizens’ actions.
In fact, an army of political change agents began to raise their heads bringing to the fore a new thinking, concerns and breaking imaginary barriers. Looking at the concise history of the “LightUpNigeria” (LUN) movement, which started in 2009, this case study explores how a common societal challenge can galvanize people’s support and solidarity. In the course of the Twitter exchanges that ensued that same night, the slogan Light Up Nigeria (LUN) was mentioned.
The movement was promoted with a core mission to “advocate stable electric power supply for all Nigerian homes and businesses through effective citizen social communication and strategic involvement in civic processes”.
In late July and through all of August 2009, the leaders of the LUN movement drew other like-minded young people—many of whom were visible on Twitter—into the group and began to reach out to people all over Nigeria.
Those who were part of the initial discussion on Twitter set out individual tasks for one another. Successive Nigerian governments have cashed-in on crude oil exports rather than investing in plants to refine fuel for domestic use or developing a natural gas system for domestic consumption, which means a large majority of the population lives in poverty and without power. In the first 8 years of post-military governance, President Obasanjo had spent close to US$16 billion with nothing to show for it other than promises, which were never fulfilled. President Umar Musa Yar’Adua wanted successes in electricity supply to be the main yardstick by which his administration is measured, and addressing the electricity crisis was one point on his vaunted seven-point agenda.

Another LUN campaigner, Henry Okelue added in another interview, “the citizens of the country are suffering under the load of powering themselves either their domestic activities, business ventures or social events. Since 1999, when Nigeria returned to civilian governance after almost 30 years of military rule, freedom of the press and the space for free expression have increased significantly. While smartphone users can access the Internet on their mobile devices, specific handsets such as Nokia’s range of phones and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry provide bundled data services to mobile subscribers. The video-sharing website YouTube, social networking site Facebook, micro-blogging application Twitter, and various international blog-hosting services are freely available and among the most popular websites in the country.
The Nigerian blogosphere includes both Nigerians living abroad and those based within the country.
Part of the LUN group’s demand was to push for legislation that addressed power supply, calling for both Federal and State Governments to adjust budgets in a bid to solve the electricity problem.
Although a theory of change was not developed nor was any structure or communications strategy defined, the nucleus of the campaign team did have a clearly defined advocacy goal or outcome: convincing the government to provide uninterrupted power supply and eliciting the support of the general public in pushing for that demand. Naturally, there were the naysayers, but also crucial were those who feared that LUN would die the same death as many other initiatives that started with the best of intentions but failed to maximize upon their success.
From this perspective, LUN was expected to lead the demand for fundamental rights, but also become an educational campaign. Figure 1. Archiwiz’s flowchart representation of the effect of lack of electricity on his personal life. Until Light Up Nigeria, there had been no recorded example of a campaign of this magnitude started online and, largely, remaining online. Use of Facebook    Eight weeks after the Light Up Nigeria movement held its first discussion on Twitter, the group created a Facebook profile to further amplify its campaign message. Radio    The Light Up Nigeria movement attracted much interest and goodwill from mainstream media agencies, particularly radio. Nigeria’s economy had been growing at 7 percent per annum since 2004, but that growth has not translated to any meaningful improvement in the living standards of Nigerians. One picture that went viral for many days, and is still being circulated till today, depicted a man sitting on the top of an electricity pole in the middle of an unidentified town. Beside the core campaign videos, music videos were also produced by both established and upcoming artists.
Entertainment celebrities as key proponents of the campaign agenda provided the opportunity to explore entertainment events and social functions as spaces to reach out to citizens. Group Skype and Blackberry Meetings    As there was no source of financing for its activities, campaign coordinators relied mainly on telephone calls, exchanging emails or text messaging. Nigerians from all walks of life and those in Diaspora were all involved in the online campaigns.
Light Up Nigeria proved to be successful at gaining attention online (as evidenced by the more than 20,000 group members amassed on Facebook in a span of twelve weeks, from online posts alone), on television (with artist Eldee doing a television interview on the subject), and in the traditional press and online blogs around the world. O’seun Odewale has spent nine years engaged in local and international social development work across the West African sub-region.
His research experience spans the academic and development sectors, covering both the natural and social sciences. In the development sector his focus areas include human rights, governance and political processes, regional integration and human security (security sector governance and architecture). Born in Lagos, Nigeria, O’seun holds degrees in Chemistry (Medicinal Chemistry) and Chemical Engineering Technology. Disaster is probably (hopefully!) on your mind recently, what with all the earthquakes that have been striking California and Chile in the past few weeks. Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer.
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. Town hall meetings, peaceful protests, radio shows, posters, graffiti, cartoons, pictorials, religious and cultural groups were used to reach out to the “not-so-tech-savvy” communities. This declaration spurred probes by both chambers of the National Assembly, which revealed much corruption and ineptitude in managing the US$10–16 billion that had been poured into the power sector under the previous administration of Olusegun Obasanjo. In a country where the government is mostly unaccountable to the people, a campaign such as LUN helped provide hope for those who had given up on the government and no longer believed that individuals could effect change. Weekly Twitter meets (Tweetmeet) were conducted around topical issues on power, but in a humorous way that drew large participation. Consequently, there were calls for long and short term planning to transform the rallying cry into one that generated concrete results.
It was important to reach out to Nigerians, who in 2009 were more heavily represented on Facebook than on Twitter. It was not long before international media agencies like CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera and VOA began to cover specific activities of the movement, giving it unprecedented attention and further expanding the the buzz around the campaign. Just when it was time to follow up on the initial success of the campaign, the nucleus of the conveners seem to have found fresh interests in other ventures. As a first of its kind of collective campaign in Nigeria, LUN provided the inspiration for many other campaigns and was part of the building blocks for the Enough is Enough campaign, which led Nigerian youth to demand free, fair and credible elections in 2011. In what was then a usual occurrence, the public electricity supply company, officially known as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), had initiated a power outage around Surulere—a metropolitan residential and commercial area of Lagos—where Mr. President Yar’Adua went on to promise (and he repeated this several times) that by December 2009, power generation would increase to 6,000 megawatts. Ghana, a population of 20 million generates twice that amount which equates to about a 100 megawatts per capita while in Nigeria we have to settle for barely less than 7 megawatts per woman, man and child. Short-term measures focused on the need for Nigerians to be educated about their right to light. Of course, there were online discussions around political developments in the country, and there was the outrage about the video of military officers molesting an innocent woman.
Early postings on the LUN Facebook page included people who volunteered to support the movement and be part of the campaign, even though no group message was posted until many weeks after the page went up.
In the video, he expressed frustration about how many areas in Nigeria go for weeks without electricity or how Nigerians return home to darkness after the workday.
The songs came in variety of genres including pop, rap and core Afro hip-hop all of which had massive appeal among young Nigerians.
He is currently a a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
This, however, would only scratch the surface of the minimum of 40,000 megawatts needed for a nation of about 160 million people. It will be important to state that it takes 60 watts to light a domestic electricity bulb, so we are not even getting enough to power a single bulb.
The weekly topics, therefore, mainly presented a propitious forum for participants, if connected, to share their daily experiences with interrupted power. Such education must, however, extend to Nigerians who do not have electricity, do not use the Internet, or watch television.
Their where photos would be taken and posted online; and also highlighting areas where local and state government manage to provide regular electricit.
Lagos-based, Mike Asukwo had several of his cartoons posted and shared on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry in some of the LUN campaigns.
During these events or cinema shows, a representative of Light Up Nigeria is allowed a few minutes to address the audience.
All the major parties were unequivocal in their deposition that stable electricity supply is a major plank of a functional economy. In particular, those who live in the Niger Delta area have nothing to show for the oil wealth that lies beneath their feet. Furthermore, according to the government’s 2008 estimates, the nation needed US$85 billion to revamp its power sector. Movement leaders would need to work with such organizations to spread the message that all Nigerians, regardless of tribe, religion or income have a right to light, thereby increasing awareness of the problem and maximizing the number of potential supporters who will hopefully be empowered to demand electricity from their elected representatives.
Henry contributed his skills in editing videos and multimedia to the service of the movement. Campaign activities devolved into a one-man show, making many of the core team to abandon ship, or so it seemed. As the power supply had been interrupted and the standby generator normally used as a backup failed (a common feature around Nigeria), the man’s surgery was cancelled.
The politics and elections of 2011 might have influenced a slight shift of focus as politicians tried to court formidable structures as the movement then represented.
In late 2009, the Federal University of Technology, Minna, hosted the first meeting where students were motivated to join the movement on Twitter and Facebook.
Dabiri, a popular hip-hop artist and music producer, took to Twitter to vent his anger at the incessant and unbearable power outages in his area.
It concludes that, even though the movement did not ultimately reach its goal, LUN paved the way for other voices to speak out, digitally, across Nigeria. Nigeria has had extremely unreliable and continuously deteriorating electrical power for as long as much of the population can remember. Within minutes, Light Up Nigeria was turned into a hashtag that later became the brand identity behind which tens of thousands of Nigerians queued to call attention to the desperate electricity situation in the country. In fewer than twelve weeks from its first appearance on Twitter more than nineteen thousand Nigerian youth around the world—who have frequently fretted over developments in Nigeria—had subscribed to the campaign on Twitter and Facebook, the two main platforms that were creatively used to amplify and curate the campaign messages.

Aside from the various tiers of government, the campaign also focused advocacy efforts on businesses and investors who, according to the movement, “empowered by a new Act deregulating the electricity sector in Nigeria, can contribute profitably to help generate power to fill Nigeria’s [electricity] requirements”. The movement quickly established itself as free of affiliation with any political campaign or partisan organization. In fact, campaign leaders began to receive inquiries from outside the country asking how to participate in activities of the group.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal,[6] “big companies like Procter & Gamble Co. Currently we generate less than a thousand megawatts of electricity for 148 million Nigerians. These protests further expressed the seriousness of the power problem thus bringing it closer to the political elites.
Young Nigerians in particular could not fathom how, without resorting to the sorts of conflicts or crises in countries like Rwanda and Liberia, Nigeria could not be better than what it was when it gained independence from Britain five decades ago. This was critical in a Nigerian social and political context where growth and development issues are easily appropriated through religious, economic and ethnic lenses. Education would help lower the complacency of many Nigerians and dispell the attitude that there was little to be done to overcome the incessant electricity shortages. Radio is a powerful communication tool in Nigeria because it has more penetration than most other media platforms.
The significance of this date on the eve of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence (October 1, 2010) cannot be overemphasized. But because of neglect and apathy at many civic levels, these improvements have not happened.
To emphasize this correlation, one of the cartoonists who worked actively for the LUN campaign depicted a country that was growing in size but powered by gasoline-fuelled generators indicating a non-sustainable economic growth. The man, with a phone to his ear, tells a story of the struggle for a quality GSM network to make calls. Bankole Omisore talking about how young Nigerians born in the late nineties assume that having electricity is a luxury. They share drama, humour, research, pidgin (localized Nigerian English), and attempt to connect the group’s messages to everyday experiences of the ordinary people in Nigeria.
He has five years of field experience in Elections Observations and Monitoring in twelve member states of ECOWAS and other parts of Africa, UNOWA youth employment mapping in West Africa and inclusion of young people in processes for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) under the United Nations Millennium Campaign African office situated in Nairobi. A disaster supply kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. The LUN movement, using social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, encouraged Nigerians around the world to see electricity not a luxury but a basic necessity, and called for making dependable power supplies a rights, governance and development issue. Obasanjo’s first promise was at the inauguration of his first term in office where he committed to provide uninterrupted electricity within 6 months.
It is even more despicable if you find yourself as a patient in any of the government hospitals or you are undergoing surgery and power supply is interrupted. Both short-term and long-term strategies to increase visibility of the campaign were suggested.
Amara Nwankpa speaking to BBC’s Komla Dumor stated that the independence anniversary would be more of a reflection than a celebration for a majority of Nigerians. Notable among these are Performing Musician Association of Nigeria (PMAN) 2010 elections in Lagos, Silverbird and Ozone cinemas, SWE Bar Nightclub, Lagos and several outings at the Play Nightclub, Abuja. Nonetheless, his drawings have provided succinctly instructive depictions of the problems in Nigeria. Evidently, this groundbreaking online movement, propelled by mid-level professionals, university graduates and tech-savvy youth in the online communities, was still dogged by lack of structure, coordination, financial sources or subscribed membership. The ones on electricity have received wider spread because of the army of volunteers who supported the campaign on several social media platforms.
Their Facebook posts often elicited comments or responses that veered into other important, but sometimes unrelated, issues. Such videos, expressing discontent, call on government to do everything possible to ensure that power supply is improved to an average of 300 watts per capita. Nigeria belongs to all of us and if we do not speak out now, it is the same burden we will all have to bear. As of 2009, Nigeria was poised to celebrate five decades of independence but has never had a constant supply of electricity. Our voice may be small now, but as the group grows and the word is spread, the government will hear our words and something will be done. In the course of the following weeks (in mid-September 2009), the number of subscribers on Facebook and participation in the weekly Twitter debates on electricity grew by the thousands.
Nevertheless, the overall quality of mobile service remains poor, with users frequently complaining about their inability to enjoy data services. It was not difficult to attract an almost cult followership to the group’s agenda since nearly every Nigerian in the country had been affected by mismanagement of the power sector.
In the movement’s determination, it was ready to push for a tangible change that, in their own words, “everyone can feel for the first time in the history of the country”. The significance of the campaign success is best illustrated by one community outreach volunteer who commented, “if electricity generation and supply increase, we will have more money to build schools and hospitals and we will not have to inhale dangerous generator fumes daily”. The LUN campaign piggybacked on other campaigns of international proportions to feature some of the activities of the movement on these media agencies.
The presidential manifestoes or campaigns of the political parties began to treat energy as more than an infrastructural agenda; it became a governance issue. In addition, he has additional volunteer and extra-curricula experience in campaigning, mobilization and civic education with the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the West African Students’ Union (WASU).
Whether it's preparedness for floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, or fires, the key to survival in disasters is planning. During those times, especially the blizzard of 2000 (missed a week of school) and Hurricane Isabel (missed a week of school, half the county still out of power for a month even though they got the schools running quickly).
The connection of what seems like a stunt to the electricity campaign was that the man could only have climbed the pole because it carried no electricity due to the terrible power situation. Today’s non-violent (and often online) activists have evolved their protest tactics away from anger, resentment, and rage towards a new, more incisive form of activism rooted in humor and sarcasm rather than resentment and rage, and the ominous scowls of past revolutions.
Videos were produced for almost every situation, highlighting the importance of electricity to everyday living. The central theme of these videos was to encourage every Nigerian to join the movement and to speak up about the plight of living in darkness. The messages were nuanced for artisans, professionals and every segment of the Nigerian population. He was part of the push and planning of town hall meetings and exhibition at public events to solicit support of those not online.
Odewale is also a former Director of Training and Protocol to the Junior Chambers International (JCI), an international collegiate youth growth club also known as Jaycees. You might be prepared for the next financial emergency, for the next market emergency, but I’m talking about a life-threatening emergency, like a tornado or an earthquake.
During Hurricane Isabel, my family was out of power for 3 days and we were out of school 4 days.
Government missed that target under the pretext that the growing militancy situation in the Niger Delta region affected the supply of gas to power generating stations located outside the region. In a March 2009 feature, the VOA’s flagship “TV to Africa” program, using Nigeria as a guinea pig, suggested ways to improvise battery-powered torches. Other foreign companies have pulled out of Nigeria, citing high energy costs as one of the primary reasons for doing so.” These numbers do not even reflect the energy costs spent by small business owners or individuals. Besides, the problem in Nigeria is not one of limited resources because the resources are abundantly available. Sadly, a huge chunk of this is supplied to preferred quarters including government facilities (mainly seat of Federal and State Governments) and elites who could afford to bribe corrupt electricity agency officials. Those who run businesses know how much it cost to run a generator to provide the services they have advertised.
Because inconsistent electricity services affects almost every Nigerian, it did not require the usual time to spread to mainstream electronic (radio and TV) and print media. The easiest way to reach those segments of the population would be through religious and cultural organizations.
There were few online figures whose daily routine included analyzing topical issues presented in traditional media reports. It's best to assume that in the event of an emergency or natural disaster, roads will be inaccessible by vehicles, and public transportation will be shut down.
So, I for one, don't think it's necessary all teachers learn this because in some cases, such as having no power, it would be useless.

Disaster preparedness for hurricane sandy
Earthquake plans for families


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