The immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan yesterday narrated how Isoko people have put Facebook to judicious use and as instrument of development, urging others to learn from it.
The former Governor made the explanation while paying tribute to a Facebook advocacy group, Umeh Needs Road (UNR) on his official Facebook account.
According to him, “I had opened my Facebook sometime back. I was not really active on it. As Governor, I used to go in once in a while, but hardly posted anything serious and hardly contributed to debates. My friends where quite few.
“Some time in August 2011, I remember accepting a friend request from One “Duncan”. I thought it was the same Duncan that gave me headache in my 1st election ( that Duncan is my friend now). It turned out to be Barr Afahokor Akpovienehe Duncan, whom l did not even know then.
“While looking through his posts, I saw a message “If the 7km road to Umeh is tarred, the agricultural produce from Umeh can feed Nigeria” (May not be the exact words he used). That message attracted my attention and I started exchanging messages with him.
“By the next day, when I came back to my Facebook page, he had opened a Facebook group called “Umeh Needs Road” (UNR). I immediately joined and the debate on the road started. I was up until about 3am from about 11pm. Some of the participants doubted if I was the one personally handling the page.
“Anyway, by 3am I had made up my mind to personally go and check the road by morning. I put a call through to my SSG that night and by about 9am that morning, we were on the Umeh road.
“However, we couldn’t go far because the road was virtually not passable. That was the beginning of the process that led to the construction of the road/bridge, that involved virtually everyone in the group.
“The day to day info on the construction was always in the group. Some other issues outside the road were also raised, which I or my officials had to respond to. The Umeh people were deeply involved and they were enthusiastic. They also got a brand new school.
“Fast track to early this year, there was the 1% only budget provision for Isoko. I understand that the Isoko Monitoring Group, had alerted UNR officials on this. Immediately UNR started the ADVOCACY and every Isoko son and daughter got involved.
“The result? Again the Delta State Governor -Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, was forced to come down to Isoko. Today, the gain is the on-going construction of Erowa and Irri Grammar School roads, and of course resumption of work on the Asaba-Ughelli dualisation.
“As I sat at the commissioning of Isoko House at Oleh on Saturday, it occurred to me that UNR had again brought the Governor, closer to the Isoko people, as the early completion of the Isoko House was also one of the gains of that advocacy.
“Social media advocacy through UNR brought two Governors to Isoko. UNR has been involved in other areas of advocacy especially on health issues.
“In UNR, there are well laid down rules and regulations. No insults, no hate posts, no abusive words, no blackmail, no rumour mongering.
“There are lessons for all of us to learn from the success of UNR in advocacy. Either as individuals or groups, let our social media advocacy yield positive results because around the world, it is constructive engagement that brings about government or international agencies’ attention.”