Eric Dumo

Chukwuma Martin is experiencing some of his best moments as a business owner lately. A young and gifted fashion designer, the Abia State-born entrepreneur has found new ways of marketing his services and win over new clients by the day. From a pastime three years ago to a major money-spinner today, the 29-year-old is growing his income base by the minute.

“While I was in the university, I learnt how to make clothes from a designer near the house I was living. Before six months, I had acquired the basic skills on the job and started making my own clothes myself.

“However, upon graduation I was encouraged to take the vocation as a business and by the grace of God, things have been moving very fine for me since I took this path. But I must confess that Facebook and Instagram have helped grow my business a lot. Many of the clients I have today saw and fell in love with my work online. In fact, I get lots of messages from new customers who see my posts on social media every time and contact me. I won’t lie to you, using these platforms to showcase my designs has impacted positively upon my business. It’s been a really great period for me,” an excited Martin told Saturday PUNCH. crazy-thingsIdowu Olalere, a painter, also told Saturday PUNCH that his customer base has never dipped since he started displaying his unique and attractive designs on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

According to him, since his younger sibling – Alaba – encouraged him to make his works visible online, he has never fallen short of patronage, raking in good money in the process.

“I have been into painting for several years but it was until my younger brother pushed me to display my designs on the social media that new life came into my business. It was as if that was all I ever needed to truly sell myself to the world. Today, I get more offers from clients than I can handle all alone. In fact, recently I had to get two other guys to work with me. That is how much the business has grown,” he said, smiles beaming brightly on his face.

While the social media has helped improve the businesses of Martin and Olalere, it has made staying more closely in touch with family, friends and associates a lot better for Bimbo Odubajo, a stock broker.

According to the 45-year-old father of three, being on the internet for the most part of any day has helped him communicate easily with people without even making a call on his telephone, saving some reasonable amount of money in the process.

“I created a Whatsapp group for my family recently and through that, all of us have been able to constantly stay in touch even without necessarily calling each other on the phone,” he said. “As a stock broker, I am online for the most part of the day and as a result, a lot of the clients I deal with relate with me either on Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter. In fact there are a number of professional groups that I belong to on these platforms and interact with a wide number of people every day. For me, the social media represents an easier and cheaper means of communication,” he said.

For Halimat Ahmed, it was through the help of the social media that she connected with her long-lost secondary school mate, Bilhamin Yusuf, a 32-year-old bank worker, who she is to get married to in January 2017.

The 29-year-old Ilorin, Kwara State-born laboratory scientist, told Saturday PUNCH that for bringing her the biggest happiness of her life so far, the social media would always occupy a special place in her heart.

“I and Bilhamin’s love story tells me of how much power we carry all about in our laptop computers and smartphones without even realising it. Even though we were secondary school mates, I never expected that a day would come when we would connect again so easily since we graduated in 2002.

“But through the grace of God and the help of Facebook, we were able to connect again two years ago. In January 2017, we’ll become husband and wife by the mercies of God. This, for me, is one of the powers and great advantages of the social media. I would continue to hold this innovation in high esteem,” she said.

But while dozens of Nigerians continue to leverage on the opportunities and varieties the social media presents to continue to make new meanings out of their lives, a growing number, perhaps carried away by the limitless window for cheap popularity, use the platform to seek attention by all means. From posting distasteful photographs and raunchy videos to sparking controversies through all sorts of morally questionable means, the Nigerian social media space has been taken over by a ‘crazy’ and ‘hedonistic’ tribe all out to spread a new type of ‘religion’.

For example, in October, a video of a young girl smoking marijuana and dancing vigorously to a song made the rounds after she posted it on her Facebook page.

The young girl said to be from Delta State, according to reports, claimed to love smoking ‘weed’ because life, in her view, is too short and she must enjoy herself while she’s still young.

Her action was greeted with diverse reaction from Nigerians with many calling for law enforcement agents to track and send her to a rehabilitation centre.

Shortly after that, the world was treated to perhaps one of the nastiest sights of 2016 when a sex tape by a former beauty queen from Anambra State, Chidinma Okeke, surfaced on the internet.

The footage, which showed the nude young lady in company with another woman masturbating with a cucumber and having oral sex, remains one of the most discussed topics of the year, damaging Okeke’s image and reputation in no small measure.

In September, two ladies were seen getting naughty at a beach they had gone to have a good time with friends.

The ladies, lying on each other suggestively, attracted heavy criticisms from a lot of people with some accusing them of being lesbians.

As if that was not bad enough, two months earlier in July, a young girl uploaded a photograph on Instagram, drawing the ire of a lot of users on the social networking platform almost immediately.

Two young men were seen excitedly grabbing the girl’s breasts in the photo, not minding what consequence could follow. The location and identities of the actors is yet to be ascertained.

It was almost a similar story in June 2016 when another unnamed young girl posted  a video of her with her boyfriend sitting on a bed shortly after a steaming sex session, according to her.

A Facebook user, Teddy Skitt, who also shared the short video that went viral at the time, revealed that the unidentified girl lived in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, even though she is originally from Imo State.

The unperturbed young girl visibly having a great time as shown on her face in the video, captioned the footage: “Good morning. Boo made my night. I love u baby.”

In May, another young lady perhaps driven by the desperation to make a name by all means, posted a nude photograph of herself on Instagram, becoming one of the hottest topics on the social media space for several weeks.

While scores of internet users lambasted and condemned her for the ‘silly’ act, she won for herself a large fan base with several men offering her different amounts of money in exchange for sex.

In March, an emotional female fan of music twins – Psquare – recorded herself crying for the two young men to come together after a split that shook the industry and rattled many of their followers.

The lady later identified as Patience Erdoo Yisa, an up-and-coming actress and hair stylist, claimed in the video that she couldn’t read and concentrate on her exams as a result of the singers’ separation.

While there was a backlash from many who saw the post as a cheap attention-seeking venture by the young lady, a handful others hailed Yisa’s courage and love for the musicians, describing it as heroic.

Interestingly, the footage did not fail to get the attention of the superstar brothers, who are now back together as a unit – Yisa has been a beneficiary of their soft side following the public display of emotion for them. She got financial assistance from one of the twins after the rent of her hair salon expired, according to a recent social media post by her.

Apart from videos and photographs displaying nudity and pervasiveness, the craze to attract attention and be the topic of discussion on the social media among Nigerians continues to take new and even more disturbing dimension by the day.

For instance, earlier this month, a young man took marriage proposal to a bizarre new level when he asked his fiancé the four-word poser every single woman longs to hear – “Will you marry me”.

In the video footage that has since gone viral, the unnamed man with blood all over his head is seen lying on a busy road while his friend revealed to the heartbroken lady that her man had been killed by a car.

After crying and trying fruitlessly to get the man back to life, the woman was left shell-shocked after her lover suddenly sprang back to life, presenting a ring and asking her to marry him thereafter.

The strange stunt, which has remained one of the most trending issues on the social media today, has attracted reactions from far and near with scores applauding and denouncing the idea.

Images and videos of individuals posing with wads of cash and other expensive items including cars, jewellery, clothes, and shoes have become common feature in the Nigerian social media space in recent times, too.

While actors in such posts claim to be testifying to God’s goodness in their lives, critics say it is merely to attract attention and gather a particular kind of reputation in the minds of feeble followers.

“The unregulated nature of the social media in Nigeria has given birth to a lot of disturbing trends on the Internet and especially among young people today.

“Sometimes I wonder if people have brains at all by the time I see certain things they post online just to garner attention and appear to be what they really are not.

“The danger of this sad phenomenon is that it continues to gain popularity among the young people who appear to be losing what is left of their morals and values by the day.

“I think there must be a re-orientation by relevant government agencies and even non-governmental organisations to refocus the minds of a lot of our young people. It is a serious problem and something must be done about this immediately,” Sociologist, Dare Ilesanmi, pointed.

Esther Onochie, rights promoter and responsible living advocate, told Saturday PUNCH that the deviant behaviour of some Nigerians on the social media was a reflection of all that was wrong with the country.

According to her, the underdevelopment of Nigeria is not far-fetched from the dearth of morals and values in the society – something she says is now manifesting in different forms.

“For me, there is no difference between this sad trend and what is happening to Nigeria as a country. Since mediocrity became the order of the day rather than merit and hard work, everything in this nation began to crumble.

“Look all around you and tell me where we are getting it right as a society of sane people. Why is it that with all our education and religiosity, things keep getting worse by the day? Since we lost our conscience as a nation, every aspect of our lives has been infected too.

“The youths or today’s generation may continue to deviate because the morals that would have guided them on the right path had been abandoned in favour of the Nigerian way of doing things. Corruption has seized us so much that there is rot everywhere you turn to.

“We must go back to our morals and value system as a people if we must get out of our present situation. Apart from the decadence we now see people display openly on the social media, there are a lot of areas we must correct to get this society working properly. It is a huge task, I hope there will be collective will to tackle this problem,” she said.

Copyright PUNCH.