The Social Media And The Clamour For Security Sector Reforms In Nigeria Between 2015 And 2019

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The Social Media And The Clamour For Security Sector Reforms In Nigeria Between 2015 And 2019


The study examines social media and the clamour for security sector reforms in Nigeria between 2015 and 2019.

The study adopted qualitative method and historical/analytical design was used in analyzing its data. Data were collected through secondary sources which include newspapers, archives, books, conference proceedings, etc.

The findings revealed that, Nigerians particularly the young ones, to a great extent, are involved in the campaign for security sector reformations through the social media. The fears exuded by this category of individuals on the social media in engaging the issues concerning Nigeria’s security sector is alleviated by the anonymity advantage provided by the social media. Social media has become an important tool for setting the discussion on the security sector reformation and for bringing about change that were hitherto impossible.

The study concluded that, the social media has proven to be a useful in controlling the actions of the ruled and the rulers. Social media is fast changing and setting trends and agendas on topics such as security matters. The study further recommends that: The only way to curb uprising, particularly those surrounding issues in the security sector is for all concerned stakeholders to justifiably carry out their duties in the most responsible manner;. The need to launch more productive discussions, development and sharing of best practices to mitigate issues relating to corruption among police officers, highhandedness, sexual harassment, illegal detention, illegal hacking of phones and other devices, and other issues identified, cannot be overemphasized.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The growing use of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, African news applications and other forms of social media in Nigeria has increased citizens’ awareness of political events, changing perceptions both nationally and internationally and giving ‘less celebrated actors’ a voice in global and local discourse. For example, increasing Twitter use is said to be linked to citizens’ interest in challenging misrepresentation by the international media in terms of how violence and election campaigns are reported. Similarly, in Nigeria, social media activity has reportedly been encouraged as a result of the Nigerian mainstream press’ reluctance to report sensitive issues, or critique the conduct of Nigerian government officials, powerful individuals, institutions or corporations. Twitter, in particular, is a form of social media that has revolutionized political discourse and enabled the Nigerian population to communicate in new ways. Like almost every social media platform, Twitter is easily accessible through a mobile phone and can give ordinary citizens a voice in international online discourse. Social media platforms can facilitate radicalization by promoting content with emotional appeal that taps into the grievances of users and reinforces their frustrations.

However, a strong degree of uncertainty about the news circulating on social media appears to transpire from keywords and expressions used by users (e.g. cannot verify, fake, claim), suggesting that the establishment of trusted institutional accounts could facilitate the spreading of reliable news and carefully crafted messages in times of crisis, limiting the potential for social media to be used as a vector for fake news and terrorist dis- or misinformation. The structure of online communities identified around different groups and dates suggests that there is an opportunity to use social media as a vehicle to present counter-narratives and alternative messaging to undermine wrong propagandas.

One platform that provides for information, collection and publication is digital technology, it allows a site for dialogue and debate, and a venue for lobbying and fundraising (Rolfe, 2012). Web 2.0 which stems from digital technology is known for its interactive platform and includes blogs and social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Harlow (2011) cited Boyd and Ellison (2007) who defined social network sites (SNS) as an online service for users to create a public or semi-public profile, build a network with other users with whom they share a common link, and navigate other users’ profiles and networks. From the definition cited by Harlow, social media was not created with activism in mind; however, through the avenue created for discussions ranging from issues including causes to events, to advocacy that otherwise might not gain attention from traditional media, online media has become the most common entrance to online social activism.

The Nigerian Security Sector is considered to be one of the most important sectors in the nation as it directly pertains to the safety of not just infrastructure and material possessions but most importantly, the safety and protection of the lives of citizens and residents in the country.

One could argue that it is in fact the most important agency the nation has as any state that cannot provide security is said to be a failed state. A recurring discussion among groups of citizens is the essence of security institutions and how functional these institutions are. It is in fact a global discussion, and a veritable medium which allows people from different countries of the world to participate in such global discussion simultaneously is social media.

The Prevention and Education Committee of the Task Force (2014) prepared and presented a finding on which showed that recruiting an audience is often the easy part of social media awareness campaigns. This finding proves true in relation to the correlation between social media and the reforms of the Nigerian security sector as little has come out of the numerous campaigns which have been carried out against the country’s security agencies and for the reformation of these institutions.

While it has become almost very easy to keep an online audience engaged through constant dialogues and continuous postings on campaigns raised, the use of social media has also become a vector in trivializing imperative issues. Dewey (2014) took to social media platform Twitter to argue that the recent welter of internet interest has oversimplified and sentimentalized the country’s issues and also failed to achieve anything worthwhile.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

A 2018 Daily Trust nationwide poll indicated that 65% of Nigerians believe that the country is not secure. Dismal security conditions persevere as terrorist groups continue to spring up and attack civilians and even military officers serving especially in the north eastern part of the nation. Sadly, while issues like economic performance and corruption among government officials continue to headline discussions, issues regarding the security sector continue to be often overlooked. Page (2019) showcases a classic example of this reminiscing on the 2019 election campaigns where insecurity was not a headline grabbing issue.

Akpan, Ering and Adeoye (2013) state that the media as the fourth estate of the realm is susceptible to manipulation positively and otherwise, regardless of place and time. As government officials continue to sidestep growing security issues, the masses take to social media platforms as a means to air fears, grievances and frustrations while calling for reformations of the sector.

Unfortunately, despite its role in discouraging political apathy and encouraging political involvement and economic development, social media has also led to a number of less desirable impacts usually pushed through false narratives in formats of pictures, videos, texts and audio clips published online. Beyond the frontier security, there is now a need for citizens to ensure that there is societal security by ensuring that only verifiable claims are passed out through various mediums – especially social media platforms and online news agencies.

Hence this study seeks to examine the importance of social media in the reformation of the Nigerian security sector as well as the dangers online media purports through false claims and an aggregation of information through deceit and wide exposure and to suggest ways to ensure that social media is not used for nefarious purposes through developing working strategies.

1.3 Research Objectives

The main objective of this research is to examine and critically analyse the social media and the clamour for security sector reforms in Nigeria between 2015 and 2019.

Other objectives include:

  1. Determine the social media platforms used by Nigerians in discussing the Nigerian security sector.
  2. Examine how social media platforms affect the security sector in Nigeria.
  3. Analyse the security challenges caused by false claims about the security sector in Nigeria.
  4. Determine the extent to which Nigerians are involved in the campaign for security sector reformations through social media.
  5. Examine the challenges of checkmating social media in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

Based on the aforementioned objectives, the following research questions have been posed:

  1. What social media platforms are used by Nigerians in discussions about the security sector?
  2. Have social media platforms affected the security sector in Nigeria?
  3. What is the security challenge caused by false claims about the security sector purported on social media?
  4. How much are Nigerians involved in reformation campaigns for the security sector on social media?
  5. What are the challenges of checkmating social media in Nigeria?

1.5 Scope of the Study

This research critically analyses social media and the clamour for security sector reforms in Nigeria between 2015 and 2019. A 2019 Global State of Digital report by Hootsuite shows that there are currently 98.39 million internet users in Nigeria which showed a 4 million increase compared to January 2018. Of the 98.39 million Nigerian internet users, 54% access the internet on a daily basis while only 12% (24 million) have active social media accounts (PulseNG, 2019).

Stat Counter (2019) shows the most popular social media platforms in Nigeria are Facebook (49.8%), Twitter (24.38%) and Instagram (11.26%); this explains why the social media platforms of focus in this research are Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

While numerous campaigns have been created on security sector reforms in Nigeria, only the #EndSARS and #EndImpunity campaigns will be looked at as case studies, this is because these campaigns were the most active campaigns regarding calls for security sector reformation on social media platforms. The use of hashtags (#) which precedes every campaign title will be studied for its role in creating awareness on social media.

In addition to these campaigns, instances of false information in regards to activities in the security sector will be analysed to effectively ratify the damage such misinformation may cause.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is significant because it gives an insight to the level of awareness on security sector reforms and seeks to examine social media as a tool for creating awareness as well as inducing related actions.

This research work and its findings will be of paramount importance to officers of the security sector who are the major targets of reformation and misinformation. It will educate them properly on how to engage with the citizenry through social media. The work is also beneficial to all members of society who actively and passively engage through social media platforms and forums to glean knowledge, share information and discuss pressing issues; it will serve as a guide that will ensure that no further damage is done to the security sector and the society at large as it so stands.

1.7 Methodology

This study employed qualitative research method. Data for this study were derived from secondary sources such as; articles, editorials, journals, textbooks and newspaper publications.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

Social media:

Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. It comprises of user generated content and interaction between users. Users in this context are not experts but everyday people. Social media includes Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Users do not need to have any level of expertise to operate social media.


A vehement expression of collective feeling or outrage against something.

Security Sector:

All security institutions and structures whose duty is to protect the society from crime, disorder and violence.


The act of making an improvement, especially by changing the structure or behaviour of something.


Activism in the context of this work, entails the actions of a group of like-minded individuals coming together to create awareness, change the status quo, advocating for a cause globally. It is using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. The campaign can happen simultaneously in different places, countries and locations.


A word or phrase preceded by the hash sign (#) used on social media. It is used to identify messages on a specific topic and link them together.

1.9 Chapter Outlay

This research is structured into three chapters. Chapter one sets the foundation for the research through the presentation of a background to the study, statement of the problem, research objectives, research questions, significance, methodology, scope of the study and operational definition of key terms. Chapter two examines reviews on relevant conceptual theoretical literature and presents theories to the problem of the study. Chapter three explores the roles, impacts and effects of social media on security challenges.

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