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17.05.2019 Feature Article

The Role Of Social Media In Strengthening Public Institutions In Nigeria: A Binary Option

"I believe the benefits provided by social network sites such as Facebook have made us better off as a society and as individuals, and that, as they continue to be adopted by more diverse populations, we will see an increase in their utility. Anecdotal evidence of positive outcomes from these technologies -- such as political activities organized via Facebook or jobs found through LinkedIn -- is well-known, but now a growing corpus of academic research on social networks sites supports this view as well...Social technologies never have predictable and absolute positive or negative effects, which is why social scientists dread questions like these. In considering the effects of social network sites, it is clear that there are many challenges to work through -- the increasing commercialization of this space, the need to construct strong privacy protections for users, and safety issues -- but I believe the benefits we receive as a society provided by these tools far outweigh the risks."…Nicole Ellison, 2008 in "Is MySpace Good for Society?

INTRODUCTION
As we inch towards 2015 – the target date of the Millennium Goals, and as the trumpet reaches a deafening pitch for Nigeria to join the league

of the first 20 industrialized economies in the world by 20: 2020, one central tendency that comes to mind is the weak institutions, which cannot carry the weight of fundamental reforms we seek to embark upon as a nation.

At Nigeria’s 51st Independence anniversary, President Goodluck Jonathan underscored the need to fix public institutions, adding that strengthening existing institutional frameworks was panacea for the decay and corruption that characterize the system. President Jonathan expressed optimism that Nigerians have the capacity to transform the nation into a world class economy but prescribed the building of strong institutions as the antidote to her current socio-economic and political malaise. The president said this much:

��If we fix a number of institutions that we must fix, it may be painful but we have to do that… I believe in the next 10 years or so, we should be able to run our economy without oil… if we rely on oil, of course, oil is also a wasting asset, you cannot replace it easily”.

The truism is that in Nigeria, most reforms are either partially successful or monumental failures. This is largely attributable to the weak institutions, which lack the capacity to implement and sustain such reforms. Policy interventions and implementation mechanism are often vitiated by weak institutions. Weak institutions are at the root of low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Genuine efforts at re-engineering the bureaucracy and government apparatus have only recorded minimal success. Now, Social Media platform can be deployed to play a role in strengthening the institutions for efficient and effective policy packaging and implementation.

The last failed state index published by a Foreign Policy Magazine in collaboration with Fund for Peace, ranks Nigeria 14th worse than Niger, Guinea Bissau, Cameron, Tanzania and many other countries. Nigeria is confronted with numerous challenges: rising unemployment; insufficient power and energy supply, dwindling educational standards, mounting insecurity, dismal social infrastructure, high profile corruption, rising inflation and low level of industrialization among others.

Some Eurocentric scholars are of the view that Nigeria is a failed state. This is partly because of the nation’s inability to provide public service. There is erosion of legitimate authority by a section of the State, widespread corruption and criminality and sharp economic decline. Among the socio-economic and political indicators of a failed state are:

• Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced people.

• Legacy of vengeance – seeking group
• Chronic and sustained human flight such as brain drain

• Sharp and severe economic decline occasioned by poverty

• Uneven economic development along group lines

• Progressive deterioration of public services

• Widespread violation of human rights
• Rise of factionalized elites with often predatory interests

• Glorification of criminal gangs and widespread brigandage

• Criminalization or de-legitimization of the state among others

In Nigeria, while it can be argued that the State may be “failing” because the Niger Delta insurgency appears to be under control now, but the Boko Haram menace and the pervasive morass of kidnapping, killing, robbery and internecine fights have all conspired to make people believe that a Sovereign National Conference may be necessary to nurture our fledgling democracy. Amidst all these national questions, Nigeria’s approach to leadership is no less troubling. Like Achebe said in the Problem with Nigeria, Nigeria’s problem is bad leadership and there is massive evidence on ground that Achebe’s assertion is correct. States that are considered as “failed states” are seen as a threat to the international system, which is premised on normality of States.

Many Nigerians are alarmed that in the 2012 edition of Failed States Index,(FSI), the nation was placed at the 14th position on the Index. The reason is that the Boko Haram insurgency has included the nation in the “league of infamy” but most Africans see the indicia as mischievously contrived by some Western Countries to promote and subtly create the impression that African economies are lagging. The question of whether Nigeria is a failed Stateor not, has occupied the front burner of political disputations since 2005.The controversy may rage on in the foreseeable future.

STRATEGIES FOR STRENGTHENING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA

Social Media represents the democratization of information and the equalization of influence. Therein lies both the challenge and opportunity for organizations. Nowadays, anyone can create, publish, and distribute ideas, observations, news, and information. Content can now travel around the world through a myriad of connected channels and people faster than the time it took you to read this sentence….. Online social networking can facilitate identity exploration, provide social cognitive skills such as perspective taking, and fulfill the need for social support, intimacy, and autonomy….This requires constant reflection on which they are, on who they want to become, and on their values, strengths, and weaknesses….Brendesha M. Tynes,--2007

In every developing nation, strengthening public institutions must of necessity,begin with the political system. There is a symbiotic relationship between the political system and the economy. Political power holders have a responsibility to make policies to create a conducive atmosphere for private investment to thrive, which in turn create jobs, pay taxes and resuscitate the economy. Even socio-economic issues like employment, poverty reduction and wealth creation depend on the institutional framework carrying them. Successive administrations had undertaken some reforms to rejuvenate the sluggish economy but the monster of corruption and weak institutions have vitiated such sustainable economic growth and development on the short run.

In Nigeria, since the past four decades of democratic governance, the value system is skewed is favour of materialism. Integrity, honesty, hard work and morality have no place in public life. The political system has bred a workforce that is not very productive. This has been compounded by the diminishing quality of education – which lack adequate funding, research and innovation According to Mankiv (2001) , the productivity of a society is determined by many variables: physical and human capital, natural resources, technological skills and knowledge. A nation enjoys higher standards of living if the population is productive. This cannot be said of Nigeria, with dearth of industrialization, insecurity, inadequate infrastructure and an inclement work environment that de-motivates investors.

Fifty-two years after independence, there is inadequate investment in human capital and this militates against productivity and fuels poverty, which in turn breeds and social crisis. The Units Department of State Report on Human Rights 2005 opined that Nigeria needs vocational and technical projects to develop the requisite skills needed by investors, industries and companies that would accomplish the vision 2020 agenda. Since statistics show that about 70% of Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day, technical and vocational skills would enable most youths to be entrepreneurs, employers of labour or to be self-employed. Today, the Nigerian nation is harassed by inadequate agricultural and rural development, epileptic power supply, lack of clean water, functional and affordable healthcare etc that are capable of catalyzing development. There is also consensus that fixing Nigeria’s economy will require a holistic approach because effective institutional reforms do not happen overnight.

On corruption, Nigeria has established institutions: the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and many others. However, unbundling corruption will be near impossible without establishing mechanisms for effective checks and balances to monitor both the leaders and followers. . These are institutions established to foster public integrity. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) keeps personal records of assets of public office holders; the ICPC’s mandate is to review public sector system and procedures in order to curb corruption while EFCC combats money laundering, 419 crimes, financial terrorism and fraud in the financial sector. Invariably, there is overlap of functions but they inspire public confidence.

In the court of public opinion, the corruption profile of public office holders is on the rise – an indication that the anti-graft agencies are not effective.In 2006, Nigeria earned #3.8 trillion from oil exports between January and August. In August 1, 2008, it was revealed that $16billion sunk into the power sector by the OBJ administration unfortunately went down the sinkhole of corruption.

Dike (2005) had asserted that greed and leadership incompetence have conspired to provoke Nigeria’s socio-economic and political crisis. Only the regeneration of our values, public morality respect and responsibility including self-discipline can be the Panacea to our national moral decadence.

In Nigeria, public service delivery is generally poor because of a weak bureaucracy. Gambari (2008) asserted that the civil service performs three basic functions: supporting the policy making function of government at the federal, state and local government; facilitating or regulating the private sector; and providing managerial leadership for operating public sector enterprises.

Thus,the civil service, rather than play the role of an engine of growth has become a liability stifling and vitiating the implementation of government policies. Successive administrations have attempted to reform the civil service but the desire for professionalization is bastardized by ethnic considerations, crude politicking and struggle for supremacy about allocatable values. William Easterly (2006) enunciated fragile states are plagued by two factors namely: political identity fragmentation and weak national institutions. According to him, poor institutions have adverse effect on growth and policy implementation. In such fragile nations, the creation of political bureaucratic structures such as the Army, Police, Judiciary and the civil service is usually supported by an ideology that legitimizes existing social order through prescribed rule of law.

On the contrary, nations with strong institutions have less of ethnic diversity and are likely to be vulnerable to the centrifugal forces of pull and tear. In Nigeria, there is low level of trust, high level of political fragmentation and these characteristics help to squander built-up social capital while dislocating attempts at cohesion and integration.

The judiciary – another very significant arm of government is the beacon of hope and a bulwark of democracy. The judiciary not only arbitrates disputes but also serves as a pivot for national stability. This is why the judiciary is supposed to inspire confidence and respect by standing on a moral high ground to ensure the rule of law is adhered to. However, because of the inextricable link between the executive organ and the judiciary, there is observable opportunism, corruption and neo-patrimonialism which rubbishes the temple of justice especially in matters that are political in nature. Political brigands and conflict entrepreneurs contrive illegalities and subject the judiciary to unnecessary pressure. Of course, a politicized judiciary is a midwife of tyranny, misgovernment and economic retrogression. In Nigeria, the judiciary and its institutional infrastructure are in need of reform so it can promote accountability and maintain its independence.

Perhaps, one of the worst hit areas in Nigeria’s political economy is the institution for economic governance. Macro-economic reforms have been carried out to insulate depositors and investors of loss and to enforce contractual obligations. Whereas it is germane to admit that the reforms have ossified aspects of the financial institutions, public confidence index is still very low. The reforms have not addressed unemployment, social security, access to affordable healthcare services, housing, wealth creation and poverty reduction. This is where entrepreneurial leadership is required.

Leadership is a critical variable in the building of the Nigerian nation. Leadership exists at two levels. Firstly, the personal qualities of the leader count. Personal qualities such as integrity, honesty, commitment and competence are very critical to good leadership. Secondly, a leader has followers hence the collective vision, focus and desire for development is also essential. Nigeria needs leaders at all levels that are committed to the rule of law; tolerant, ability and integrity are in dire need. As a nation, we must not relent in the struggle for quality leadership. Nation building is a collective responsibility hence we must have men who are ready to stand up to be counted when it matters most. We must realize that only a functional economy and a sustainable security can constitute the pillars of an enduring nation. Nations are built by men, honest men, men with vision, dependable character, and integrity. These ingredients are the superstructure of our national greatness.

Nigeria could not consummate the aspirations of vision 2010. The nation has also shoved aside the lofty objectives of the New Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, NEEDS, - with emphasis on wealth creation, poverty reduction and value – re-orientation. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a 2015 target are becoming elusive, as there is nothing on ground to show that we are inching near the goals of the MDGs. Many scholars now opt for a paradigm shift.

The present administration has made concerted efforts to reform some national institutions with a view to re-invigorating them. It was for that reason that the Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and agencies headed by Steve Oronsaye was set up. Principal among the recommendations of the Committee is the scrapping of 102 statutory agencies from the current 263; abolition of 38 agencies; merger of 52 and reversion of 14 to departments in the ministries. The report also recommended the discontinuation of government funding of professional bodies and councils. This recommendation is in synch with the observation of the Central Bank of Nigeria that the civil service is over-staffed, and there appears to be an alarming 45, 000 “ghost” workers in 251 MDAs. In addition, it was reported that the Civil Service has contributed to the culture of corruption, cronyism and red-tapism in the country.

Earlier, a Presidential Advisory Committee chaired by Gen. T.Y Danjuma, had in January 2011, called for “a more effective and optimal use of national resources and advised the Federal Government to government to restructure and rationalize to eliminate waste or fund layers of inefficiency.

By summoning the political will to implement the Oronsaye report, the Federal Government will spare successive governments the waste of resources and time in setting up similar committees. If the government of the day is serious about the planned restructuring, it knows exactly what to do to prune the cost of the civil service without constituting any committee.

While the Federal Government Minister advised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke, to review the a third committee was set up by President Jonathan to review the public sector reforms committee headed by Ahmed Fika. The problem is that this duplication of Committees has created the impression that the recommendations may end up in the archives where they meet the dead reports of yesteryears.

The high cost of servicing the public sector is antithetical to economic growth. Most of these Parastatals perform overlapping functions and compete for supremacy. For instance, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps tend to compete with the police force and even the Federal Road Safety Commission. It leaves no one in doubt that the functions of some Ministries are duplicated. The proliferation of parastatals and the near redundancy of some of them are a product of greed and corruption- which are national malaise.

INSTITUTIONAL IMPERATIVES FOR PARADIGM SHIFT
The political economy of a nation depends on the strength of her institutions. Like a bridge, the strength of materials determines the type of vehicles that can cross the bridge, so does the institutions and the carrying capacity of reforms. The obstacles of fixing the institutions can be overcome when we invest in appropriate strategies and models for effective economic management. Nigeria should now focus more on long-term growth with a view to improving the lives of the people.

First, Nigerian policy makers must clarify the position and role of macroeconomic policy in the country. Second, leaders must define and maintain goals and orientations with a view to reducing, poverty, unemployment and to engineer growth. Third, government must minimize waste by avoiding duplication. Fourth, there must be improved co-ordination and cooperation between the public and private sector. Finally, for purposes of efficiency, government must clarify institutional roles and carefully understand the impact of macroeconomic policy on the wellbeing of the people.

The central kernel of democracy is to provide mechanisms and processes through which citizens can collectively participate in the management and governance of their society. This social pact between the elected and electorate can be consummated through observance of accountability, which requires elected representatives to not only work with the consent of their constituency but must also inform the members of the constituency of whatever decision and the basis for such decision. Law making processes must embrace the concept of open hearing for the people to appreciate the import of such laws and the nuances of their operation.

One of the functions of the legislature is an oversight role on the executive. The purpose is to ensure that public resources are appropriated and prudentially used to produce the desired results. Here, the Social Media in conjunction with Civil Society can play the role of ombudsman to access baseline information, attend public hearings and set up mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

The problem of legal instruments as tools for demanding accountability is that it is both costly and slow. This is why members of the constituency can mobilize and initiate the processes of the recall of a member who has performed below expectation. Even though the recall process is cumbersome, the very process of mobilizing is enough pressure on the member. Social Media can be used as a platform for such mobilizations.

Whereas, the Social Media can be used to expand Governance Transparency, which is a precondition for accountability, Facebook, Youtube, Myspace, Goggle Plus, Linkedln, and other major social media tools can be deployed to demand for accountability. This way, the anti-corruption crusade can be deepened. Fifthly, they must clarify institutional roles and emphasize efficiency in the execution of policy goals (inception, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and research and development). Finally, they must carefully and continuously study, understand, and consider the impact of macroeconomic policies on the people and the economy as a whole.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR STRENGTHENING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS
The power of social media in proffering solution to national problems cannot be over-emphasized. Apart from networking and sharing ideas, social media tools can be used to facilitate communication to improve governance. Educational institutions can use social media to effectively establish their reputation as a cutting-edge research institution, recruitment process, and build relationship between staff, student and the community. Social media can be used to create the profile of each department for purposes of sharing exclusive information, improve service delivery, announce deadlines and updates. Social media can be used to strengthen educational institutions by announcing important deadlines for assignments, discuss topical concepts and to work through issues students may experience in the classroom. It is an efficacious communication tool for showcasing features of admitted students, provide helpful hint and manage administrative processes. Social media can be use to connect with stakeholders such as external clientele, researchers, alumni and coordinate donations in institutions.

In a crisis-ridden society like Nigeria, social media tools can be deployed in managing crisis. Scott (2013) opines that numerous disasters have shown that social media could be deployed to get in touch with people through phone lines for emergency communication. Individual voice can be heard with the inclination to support campaign on social networks. Social media creates room for increased visibility. It also makes connections easier through information sharing. Social media accomplishes more at little or no cost.

Even financial institutions such as banks use social websites to heal the malaise affecting financial institutions. Banks popularize their services by focusing on target customers to encourage them save for retirement, invest in education and maintain customer relationships. Through E-commerce marketing, banks use social networks for social communication for online surveys to develop a financial life cycle for their customers and identity. Through social media researches, banks identity which features and benefits would give them a competitive edge. Social Media is also used to market products by engaging customers through twitter accounts, ATM accounts and to get feedback on what customers feel about their services. .

More importantly, financial institutions are using social media as a way of becoming more transparent to customers, and build their trust. Social networks and websites empower individuals by using blogs, facebook pages and websites to acceleratechange in transaction. With financial transparency, banks could potentially mitigate risks, manage a controlled and closely monitored approach and theses yield spill-over benefits.

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, posits that corruption undermines the institutions responsible for advancing nation’s social, economic and political goals. UNDP therefore suggested an institutional approach with built-in four strategies. The strategies are: reducing the discretionary powers of public office holders; improving law enforcement; civil service reform and increasing transparency and citizens’ oversight. If Nigeria’s leadership can be strong enough to adopt these strategies, institutions will be strengthened.

Over the years, the emphasis has been on civil service reforms, which tended to promote stakeholders in urban governance. The traditional approach did not establish a link between government, capital and civil society. At the national level, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides legitimacy for governments as expressed through the constitution. While the role of national governments set the standards and the institutional framework for development, the private sector’s legitimacy is based on its role of creating jobs and employment, which in turn generates taxes to fund government programmes.

Nigeria’s Senate President David Mark (2012) said that the emergence of social media like facebook twitter, blackberry messenger, YouTube, Google Plus etc have changed the face of media practice by making information sharingeasier, faster and quicker, but social media has become a threat to the ethics of media practice and good governance. He suggested that schools of mass communication and journalism should review their curricular to include the operations of social media. The Senate President tacitly see as unleashing terror on society by an angry hungry practitioner who transfer aggression on government and politicians – who are victims of social media onslaught.

Whereas the assertions of the Senate President may be correct, Social Media has made government more transparent, open and public office holders more accountable. Even in the law making process, civil society now demands public hearing to know if the legislators are protecting the people or consummating their electoral promises. Legislative demands contained in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) presume that government and public institutions can be held accountable for actions.

Enterprise social networking has also improved business strategy. Most enterprises now engage in collaborating with social media service providers such as Google, Microsoft; Yahoo etc for integration and information sharing. Share points are very effective deployments to customer’s premises. Amy (2013) avers that since the advent of social media, financial services have leveraged on the tools, you can deploy a social media strategy to boost your business without raising any red flags.

Social media is also used by government for poverty alleviation programmes through ICT. Poverty reduction programmes are being monitored via radio, newspaper, mobile phones and communicated to the beneficiaries. At all levels of government, views and channels and communications are being reinforced through information sharing – which in itself has generated substantial amount of employment. Through the use of social media information sharing, the technical support can be solved by strengthening sustainable poverty reduction strategy which are essential components of poverty reduction. The Women and Youth Employment Scheme (W-YES) needs to be focused to create sustainable employment.

Social media can be used to beam a searchlight on the National Assembly and the entire Leghislature as it is done in USHAHIDI. Ushahidi platform is a collaborative project created by volunteers and managed by a core team. Ushahidi was a website initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya, but since then it transformed into a Collaborative Platform where people can phone-in, make comments and monitor the parliament. Such a platform can be established to monitor the activitiesof law makers at all levels.

Social media can be used to expose contractors in the power sector. Social media tools like the facebook can be used to publish contract details such as name of contractor, contract sum, mobilization paid; target date for completion rate etc. then stakeholders can mobilize to put pressure on such contractors to complete the jobs. Social media can take a step further to x-ray the process of award of contracts to see if it is transparent and due process is followed.

On corruption, social media tools could be deployed to publish the list of corrupt persons, form alliance with international agencies such as Transparency International, Amnesty International, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Group of State Against Corruption (GRECO) to enforce travel ban, freezing of accounts offshore, outright confiscation of property and to push for the trial of such corrupt persons.

The social media can empower the Public Complaints Commission and the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to pursue litigations to secure convictions to serve as a deterrent. Social media can be used as a platform for mobilizing regional and continental agencies to make legislations to strengthen and bridge the gap between implementation of anti-corruption laws and the crusade for due process. Corruption is endemic and ubiquitous in all spheres of life. It is the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.

The benefit of corruption is immense and detrimental. It costs lives, freedom and health of people; it affects the development of the nation and hangs a negative stigma on the nation internationally.

Corruption thrives where temptationco-exists with permissiveness.Where institutional checks on power are missing, where decision making remain obscure, where civil society is thin on the ground, where great inequalities in the distribution of wealth condemn people to live in poverty that is where corruption flourishes… source book and our Corruption Online Research and Information System (CORIS 2006).

There is no doubt that with the popularization of the social media and coupled with the intensity of anti-corruption movements around the world, the carcinogenic virus of corruption will be curtailed.

Whereas the National Assemblyis expected to bridge their communication and collaborative gap with global agencies, NGOs must be empowered to intensify the crusade if not in the law courts, in the Court of Public Opinion. Members of anti-graft agencies should also build their capacities to grapple with the strange, innovative ways the scourge is perpetrated. Public office holders should also discharge moral and selfless service to the nation. Since corruption is globalised, new options and more efficacious strategies must be evolved to address the scourge. It demands on overall, holistic strategy to fight the monster.

SOCIAL MEDIA, PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND THE BINARY OPTION

It is incontrovertible that every nation adopts its own growth and development strategy on the basis of her geography, historical, economic, political and socio-cultural realities. Essentially too, each country must develop or strengthen institutions and bureaucracies to support its development agenda. Sadly, this has not happened in Nigeria because her institutions are weak.

Many nations have embraced ICT as a means of promoting transparency and strengthen national institutions. The use of social media is central to this purpose. Social media will bring to the front burner information accountability – that is the extent to which representatives provide information to their constituencies. There is representational accountability – that is the extent to which deliberations at both executive and legislative levels can be addressed. Then the extent to which legislators ensure the performance of their oversight functions on using the resources to promote the welfare of the people is also critical to governance accountability.

Social media is a survey tool as well as advocacy weapon in influencing stakeholders. Social media practitioners on facebook and blogs can engage in blind advocacy - that is a technique of advocacy without a specific person, institution in mind.

With the use of social media;
• The public can compel public office holders to give period account of their stewardship.

• They can demand for more access to information flow from government to the citizens in the spirit and letters of the FOIA. Here, all relevant information on income and expenditure should be published on the internet.

• There is also a need for social media practitionersto push for civil society participation in the budget making process and other laws that are critical to the wellbeing of the people.

• Social media can be deployed to increase interface between elected representatives and their constituencies through town-hall meetings and other interactive platforms.

• Social media has created awareness so much so that the citizens will demand for consultative approach to governance.

• Social media can get information across to the people through established channels such as electronic newsletter, list-servers, discussionforums; text messaging etc. it is a vital tool for mobilization. The aforementioned issues require effective coordination and the building of formidable platforms for action.

Strengthening public institutions through the instrumentality of social media requires a multi-pronged approach. The development of a state is hinged on the ability to promote and sustain human capacities and structural transformations. In its 2011 Economic Report on Africa, ECA, the critical role of structural transformation in delivering macroeconomic and sectoral policies is underpinned by strong institutions. Social Media can be used as an instrument of mobilization. This is evidenced in what Evgeny Morozov points out:

“the challenge of anyone analyzing how the Internet may affect the overall effectiveness of political activism, is first, to determine the kind of qualities and activities that are essential to the success of the democratic struggle in a particular country or context and second, to understand how a particular medium of campaigning or facilitating collective action affects those qualities and activities.”

Here lies the binary option. Our leaders have an option to allow laissez-faireism to flourish or change the business –as –usual scenario in the light of current realities. Since the foundation for economic transformation is underscored by visionary leadership, efficient bureaucracy and the right development strategy, we have the burden of maintaining the no-grow status quo or overhaul the system to build globally competitive institutions for efficiency and effectiveness. Another binary option lies in our collective resolve to aggregate the effort of governmental and non-governmental actors to fight corruption to a standstill or allow this unedifying situation to drag the nation to the slippery slope of failure. We have a duty to raise the awareness on the cankerworm or allow the monster to eat the future of our children. We shall gain a lot if we set up a social media platform to monitor the activities of those we have elected or remain passive and allow the unending plunder to continue. It is a fact that developing nations invest in human capital as well as embrace the New Innovation System (NIS). Again, we have another binary option to keep the nation safe to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or allow insecurity walk on four legs to diminish the potentials of our great nation. We have to choose between public – sector led growth or private sector – driven development.

There is a five-pronged strategy framework for promoting transparency and institutional abuilding. First is assessment and monitoring the strength of the institutions. Second is to have access to information with a view to measuring stakeholders’ access to information and participation in decision-making. Third is emphasis on ethics and integrity. Ethics helps to clarify adherence to commitments to public truth. Fourth is to clarify institutional reforms – which involve streamlining administrative procedures that can promote participation and accountability. Finally, there is need for targeting specific issues as rallying points for positive change

With specific reference to facebook, which is powered by a billion users, people around the world employ the use of facebook which makes it a worldwide commodity.No doubt, Facebook is the most powerful social media and social networking site. Facebook can be use to connect with institutions, Ministries and agencies for updates of their programmes and communicate gray areas. Inter-ministerial relationships can be engendered. This can open windows of communication, collaboration, synergy and complimentarity. Fan pages, and blogs can be opened for the public to make comments on how to strengthen institutions and increase productivity.

CONCLUSION
Linz and Stephen (1999) suggest five interrelated variables that must exist for democracy to exist. That include: the rule of law to guarantee citizens freedom; functional state bureaucracy to deliver public goods, institutionalized economic society. . In this direction, Social Media can help to strengthen these variables and confer legitimacy on them. Essentially too, the readiness of the stakeholders to play their legitimate roles depending on the ability of the State to follow institutionalized procedures. In Nigeria, Democratic Institutions are very fragile and often unable to protect and promote sustainable democracy. This where Social Media can mobilize and facilitate popular participation by creating awareness, tenacity of purpose, interest aggregation and building master-mind alliances.

Social Media is capable of strengthening democratic institutions through a gradual process of public awareness, advocacy, and transparency practices and compelling public office holders to be accountable. Democracy means participation-which is sine qua non to good governance. Political participation must involve the citizens in decision-making. Social Media platforms like the facebook and Youtube can be used for roust political debate on national issues and create awareness among the electorate. Thus, Social Media can increase the scope of agenda setting, marketing of political ideologies and popular participation. Social media for public participation in a nascent democracy can be very rewarding, as it engenders good governance.

To utilize Social Media tools effectively and properly, you must absolutely generate spontaneous communications in direct response to what others are saying or to what is happening in that moment. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged. Monitor, engage, and be transparent; these have always been the keys to success in the digital space……Aliza Sherman,

In the final analysis, if we deploy social media infrastructure maximally to promote transparency and demand for accountability; Nigeria’s weak institution will be rejuvenated to place our national economy on a fast orbit of development. We can use ICT infrastructure to put government policies on the cyberspace to encourage open budgeting and to reconfigure the architecture of government to encourage zero tolerance for corruption, the citizens will insist on participating in the business of government. The people, netizens will then own the process of policy articulation and erect the building block of a system where every public office holder is accountable to the people in the spirit of true democracy.

"I believe the benefits provided by social network sites such as Facebook have made us better off as a society and as individuals, and that, as they continue to be adopted by more diverse populations, we will see an increase in their utility. Anecdotal evidence of positive outcomes from these technologies -- such as political activities organized via Facebook or jobs found through LinkedIn -- is well-known, but now a growing corpus of academic research on social networks sites supports this view as well...Social technologies never have predictable and absolute positive or negative effects, which is why social scientists dread questions like these. In considering the effects of social network sites, it is clear that there are many challenges to work through -- the increasing commercialization of this space, the need to construct strong privacy protections for users, and safety issues -- but I believe the benefits we receive as a society provided by these tools far outweigh the risks."…Nicole Ellison, 2008 in "Is MySpace Good for Society?

INTRODUCTION
As we inch towards 2015 – the target date of the Millennium Goals, and as the trumpet reaches a deafening pitch for Nigeria to join the league of the first 20 industrialized economies in the world by 20: 2020, one central tendency that comes to mind is the weak institutions, which cannot carry the weight of fundamental reforms we seek to embark upon as a nation.

At Nigeria’s 51st Independence anniversary, President Goodluck Jonathan underscored the need to fix public institutions, adding that strengthening existing institutional frameworks was panacea for the decay and corruption that characterize the system. President Jonathan expressed optimism that Nigerians have the capacity to transform the nation into a world class economy but prescribed the building of strong institutions as the antidote to her current socio-economic and political malaise. The president said this much:

“If we fix a number of institutions that we must fix, it may be painful but we have to do that… I believe in the next 10 years or so, we should be able to run our economy without oil… if we rely on oil, of course, oil is also a wasting asset, you cannot replace it easily”.

The truism is that in Nigeria, most reforms are either partially successful or monumental failures. This is largely attributable to the weak institutions, which lack the capacity to implement and sustain such reforms. Policy interventions and implementation mechanism are often vitiated by weak institutions. Weak institutions are at the root of low Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Genuine efforts at re-engineering the bureaucracy and government apparatus have only recorded minimal success. Now, Social Media platform can be deployed to play a role in strengthening the institutions for efficient and effective policy packaging and implementation.

The last failed state index published by a Foreign Policy Magazine in collaboration with Fund for Peace, ranks Nigeria 14th worse than Niger, Guinea Bissau, Cameron, Tanzania and many other countries. Nigeria is confronted with numerous challenges: rising unemployment; insufficient power and energy supply, dwindling educational standards, mounting insecurity, dismal social infrastructure, high profile corruption, rising inflation and low level of industrialization among others.

Some Eurocentric scholars are of the view that Nigeria is a failed state. This is partly because of the nation’s inability to provide public service. There is erosion of legitimate authority by a section of the State, widespread corruption and criminality and sharp economic decline.

Among the socio-economic and political indicators of a failed state are:

• Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced people.

• Legacy of vengeance – seeking group
• Chronic and sustained human flight such as brain drain

• Sharp and severe economic decline occasioned by poverty

• Uneven economic development along group lines

• Progressive deterioration of public services

• Widespread violation of human rights
• Rise of factionalized elites with often predatory interests

• Glorification of criminal gangs and widespread brigandage

• Criminalization or de-legitimization of the state among others

In Nigeria, while it can be argued that the State may be “failing” because the Niger Delta insurgency appears to be under control now, but the Boko Haram menace and the pervasive morass of kidnapping, killing, robbery and internecine fights have all conspired to make people believe that a Sovereign National Conference may be necessary to nurture our fledgling democracy. Amidst all these national questions, Nigeria’s approach to leadership is no less troubling. Like Achebe said in the Problem with Nigeria, Nigeria’s problem is bad leadership and there is massive evidence on ground that Achebe’s assertion is correct. States that are considered as “failed states” are seen as a threat to the international system, which is premised on normality of States.

Many Nigerians are alarmed that in the 2012 edition of Failed States Index,(FSI), the nation was placed at the 14th position on the Index. The reason is that the Boko Haram insurgency has included the nation in the “league of infamy” but most Africans see the indicia as mischievously contrived by some Western Countries to promote and subtly create the impression that African economies are lagging. The question of whether Nigeria is a failed Stateor not, has occupied the front burner of political disputations since 2005.The controversy may rage on in the foreseeable future.

STRATEGIES FOR STRENGTHENING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA

Social Media represents the democratization of information and the equalization of influence. Therein lies both the challenge and opportunity for organizations. Nowadays, anyone can create, publish, and distribute ideas, observations, news, and information. Content can now travel around the world through a myriad of connected channels and people faster than the time it took you to read this sentence….. Online social networking can facilitate identity exploration, provide social cognitive skills such as perspective taking, and fulfill the need for social support, intimacy, and autonomy….This requires constant reflection on which they are, on who they want to become, and on their values, strengths, and weaknesses….Brendesha M. Tynes,--2007

In every developing nation, strengthening public institutions must of necessity,begin with the political system. There is a symbiotic relationship between the political system and the economy. Political power holders have a responsibility to make policies to create a conducive atmosphere for private investment to thrive, which in turn create jobs, pay taxes and resuscitate the economy. Even socio-economic issues like employment, poverty reduction and wealth creation depend on the institutional framework carrying them. Successive administrations had undertaken some reforms to rejuvenate the sluggish economy but the monster of corruption and weak institutions have vitiated such sustainable economic growth and development on the short run.

In Nigeria, since the past four decades of democratic governance, the value system is skewed is favour of materialism. Integrity, honesty, hard work and morality have no place in public life. The political system has bred a workforce that is not very productive. This has been compounded by the diminishing quality of education – which lack adequate funding, research and innovation According to Mankiv (2001) , the productivity of a society is determined by many variables: physical and human capital, natural resources, technological skills and knowledge. A nation enjoys higher standards of living if the population is productive. This cannot be said of Nigeria, with dearth of industrialization, insecurity, inadequate infrastructure and an inclement work environment that de-motivates investors.

Fifty-two years after independence, there is inadequate investment in human capital and this militates against productivity and fuels poverty, which in turn breeds and social crisis. The Units Department of State Report on Human Rights 2005 opined that Nigeria needs vocational and technical projects to develop the requisite skills needed by investors, industries and companies that would accomplish the vision 2020 agenda. Since statistics show that about 70% of Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day, technical and vocational skills would enable most youths to be entrepreneurs, employers of labour or to be self-employed. Today, the Nigerian nation is harassed by inadequate agricultural and rural development, epileptic power supply, lack of clean water, functional and affordable healthcare etc that are capable of catalyzing development. There is also consensus that fixing Nigeria’s economy will require a holistic approach because effective institutional reforms do not happen overnight.

On corruption, Nigeria has established institutions: the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and many others. However, unbundling corruption will be near impossible without establishing mechanisms for effective checks and balances to monitor both the leaders and followers. . These are institutions established to foster public integrity. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) keeps personal records of assets of public office holders; the ICPC’s mandate is to review public sector system and procedures in order to curb corruption while EFCC combats money laundering, 419 crimes, financial terrorism and fraud in the financial sector. Invariably, there is overlap of functions but they inspire public confidence.

In the court of public opinion, the corruption profile of public office holders is on the rise – an indication that the anti-graft agencies are not effective.In 2006, Nigeria earned #3.8 trillion from oil exports between January and August. In August 1, 2008, it was revealed that $16billion sunk into the power sector by the OBJ administration unfortunately went down the sinkhole of corruption.

Dike (2005) had asserted that greed and leadership incompetence have conspired to provoke Nigeria’s socio-economic and political crisis. Only the regeneration of our values, public morality respect and responsibility including self-discipline can be the Panacea to our national moral decadence.

In Nigeria, public service delivery is generally poor because of a weak bureaucracy. Gambari (2008) asserted that the civil service performs three basic functions: supporting the policy making function of government at the federal, state and local government; facilitating or regulating the private sector; and providing managerial leadership for operating public sector enterprises.

Thus,the civil service, rather than play the role of an engine of growth has become a liability stifling and vitiating the implementation of government policies.

Successive administrations have attempted to reform the civil service but the desire for professionalization is bastardized by ethnic considerations, crude politicking and struggle for supremacy about allocatable values. William Easterly (2006) enunciated fragile states are plagued by two factors namely: political identity fragmentation and weak national institutions. According to him, poor institutions have adverse effect on growth and policy implementation. In such fragile nations, the creation of political bureaucratic structures such as the Army, Police, Judiciary and the civil service is usually supported by an ideology that legitimizes existing social order through prescribed rule of law.

On the contrary, nations with strong institutions have less of ethnic diversity and are likely to be vulnerable to the centrifugal forces of pull and tear. In Nigeria, there is low level of trust, high level of political fragmentation and these characteristics help to squander built-up social capital while dislocating attempts at cohesion and integration.

The judiciary – another very significant arm of government is the beacon of hope and a bulwark of democracy. The judiciary not only arbitrates disputes but also serves as a pivot for national stability. This is why the judiciary is supposed to inspire confidence and respect by standing on a moral high ground to ensure the rule of law is adhered to. However, because of the inextricable link between the executive organ and the judiciary, there is observable opportunism, corruption and neo-patrimonialism which rubbishes the temple of justice especially in matters that are political in nature. Political brigands and conflict entrepreneurs contrive illegalities and subject the judiciary to unnecessary pressure. Of course, a politicized judiciary is a midwife of tyranny, misgovernment and economic retrogression. In Nigeria, the judiciary and its institutional infrastructure are in need of reform so it can promote accountability and maintain its independence.

Perhaps, one of the worst hit areas in Nigeria’s political economy is the institution for economic governance. Macro-economic reforms have been carried out to insulate depositors and investors of loss and to enforce contractual obligations. Whereas it is germane to admit that the reforms have ossified aspects of the financial institutions, public confidence index is still very low. The reforms have not addressed unemployment, social security, access to affordable healthcare services, housing, wealth creation and poverty reduction. This is where entrepreneurial leadership is required.

Leadership is a critical variable in the building of the Nigerian nation. Leadership exists at two levels. Firstly, the personal qualities of the leader count. Personal qualities such as integrity, honesty, commitment and competence are very critical to good leadership.

Secondly, a leader has followers hence the collective vision, focus and desire for development is also essential. Nigeria needs leaders at all levels that are committed to the rule of law; tolerant, ability and integrity are in dire need. As a nation, we must not relent in the struggle for quality leadership.

Nation building is a collective responsibility hence we must have men who are ready to stand up to be counted when it matters most. We must realize that only a functional economy and a sustainable security can constitute the pillars of an enduring nation. Nations are built by men, honest men, men with vision, dependable character, and integrity. These ingredients are the superstructure of our national greatness.

Nigeria could not consummate the aspirations of vision 2010. The nation has also shoved aside the lofty objectives of the New Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, NEEDS, - with emphasis on wealth creation, poverty reduction and value – re-orientation. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a 2015 target are becoming elusive, as there is nothing on ground to show that we are inching near the goals of the MDGs. Many scholars now opt for a paradigm shift.

The present administration has made concerted efforts to reform some national institutions with a view to re-invigorating them. It was for that reason that the Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and agencies headed by Steve Oronsaye was set up.

Principal among the recommendations of the Committee is the scrapping of 102 statutory agencies from the current 263; abolition of 38 agencies; merger of 52 and reversion of 14 to departments in the ministries. The report also recommended the discontinuation of government funding of professional bodies and councils. This recommendation is in synch with the observation of the Central Bank of Nigeria that the civil service is over-staffed, and there appears to be an alarming 45, 000 “ghost” workers in 251 MDAs. In addition, it was reported that the Civil Service has contributed to the culture of corruption, cronyism and red-tapism in the country.

Earlier, a Presidential Advisory Committee chaired by Gen. T.Y Danjuma, had in January 2011, called for “a more effective and optimal use of national resources and advised the Federal Government to government to restructure and rationalize to eliminate waste or fund layers of inefficiency.

By summoning the political will to implement the Oronsaye report, the Federal Government will spare successive governments the waste of resources and time in setting up similar committees. If the government of the day is serious about the planned restructuring, it knows exactly what to do to prune the cost of the civil service without constituting any committee.

While the Federal Government Minister advised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke, to review the a third committee was set up by President Jonathan to review the public sector reforms committee headed by Ahmed Fika. The problem is that this duplication of Committees has created the impression that the recommendations may end up in the archives where they meet the dead reports of yesteryears.

The high cost of servicing the public sector is antithetical to economic growth. Most of these Parastatals perform overlapping functions and compete for supremacy. For instance, men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps tend to compete with the police force and even the Federal Road Safety Commission. It leaves no one in doubt that the functions of some Ministries are duplicated. The proliferation of parastatals and the near redundancy of some of them are a product of greed and corruption- which are national malaise.

INSTITUTIONAL IMPERATIVES FOR PARADIGM SHIFT
The political economy of a nation depends on the strength of her institutions. Like a bridge, the strength of materials determines the type of vehicles that can cross the bridge, so does the institutions and the carrying capacity of reforms. The obstacles of fixing the institutions can be overcome when we invest in appropriate strategies and models for effective economic management. Nigeria should now focus more on long-term growth with a view to improving the lives of the people.

First, Nigerian policy makers must clarify the position and role of macroeconomic policy in the country.

Second, leaders must define and maintain goals and orientations with a view to reducing, poverty, unemployment and to engineer growth. Third, government must minimize waste by avoiding duplication. Fourth, there must be improved co-ordination and cooperation between the public and private sector. Finally, for purposes of efficiency, government must clarify institutional roles and carefully understand the impact of macroeconomic policy on the wellbeing of the people.

The central kernel of democracy is to provide mechanisms and processes through which citizens can collectively participate in the management and governance of their society. This social pact between the elected and electorate can be consummated through observance of accountability, which requires elected representatives to not only work with the consent of their constituency but must also inform the members of the constituency of whatever decision and the basis for such decision. Law making processes must embrace the concept of open hearing for the people to appreciate the import of such laws and the nuances of their operation.

One of the functions of the legislature is an oversight role on the executive. The purpose is to ensure that public resources are appropriated and prudentially used to produce the desired results. Here, the Social Media in conjunction with Civil Society can play the role of ombudsman to access baseline information, attend public hearings and set up mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

The problem of legal instruments as tools for demanding accountability is that it is both costly and slow. This is why members of the constituency can mobilize and initiate the processes of the recall of a member who has performed below expectation. Even though the recall process is cumbersome, the very process of mobilizing is enough pressure on the member. Social Media can be used as a platform for such mobilizations.

Whereas, the Social Media can be used to expand Governance Transparency, which is a precondition for accountability, Facebook, Youtube, Myspace, Goggle Plus, Linkedln, and other major social media tools can be deployed to demand for accountability. This way, the anti-corruption crusade can be deepened. Fifthly, they must clarify institutional roles and emphasize efficiency in the execution of policy goals (inception, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and research and development). Finally, they must carefully and continuously study, understand, and consider the impact of macroeconomic policies on the people and the economy as a whole.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR STRENGTHENING PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS
The power of social media in proffering solution to national problems cannot be over-emphasized. Apart from networking and sharing ideas, social media tools can be used to facilitate communication to improve governance. Educational institutions can use social media to effectively establish their reputation as a cutting-edge research institution, recruitment process, and build relationship between staff, student and the community. Social media can be used to create the profile of each department for purposes of sharing exclusive information, improve service delivery, announce deadlines and updates. Social media can be used to strengthen educational institutions by announcing important deadlines for assignments, discuss topical concepts and to work through issues students may experience in the classroom. It is an efficacious communication tool for showcasing features of admitted students, provide helpful hint and manage administrative processes. Social media can be use to connect with stakeholders such as external clientele,

researchers, alumni and coordinate donations in institutions.

In a crisis-ridden society like Nigeria, social media tools can be deployed in managing crisis. Scott (2013) opines that numerous disasters have shown that social media could be deployed to get in touch with people through phone lines for emergency communication. Individual voice can be heard with the inclination to support campaign on social networks. Social media creates room for increased visibility. It also makes connections easier through information sharing. Social media accomplishes more at little or no cost.

Even financial institutions such as banks use social websites to heal the malaise affecting financial institutions. Banks popularize their services by focusing on target customers to encourage them save for retirement, invest in education and maintain customer relationships. Through E-commerce marketing, banks use social networks for social communication for online surveys to develop a financial life cycle for their customers and identity. Through social media researches, banks identity which features and benefits would give them a competitive edge. Social Media is also used to market products by engaging customers through twitter accounts, ATM accounts and to get feedback on what customers feel about their services.

More importantly, financial institutions are using social media as a way of becoming more transparent to customers, and build their trust. Social networks and websites empower individuals by using blogs, facebook pages and websites to acceleratechange in transaction. With financial transparency, banks could potentially mitigate risks, manage a controlled and closely monitored approach and theses yield spill-over benefits.

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, posits that corruption undermines the institutions responsible for advancing nation’s social, economic and political goals. UNDP therefore suggested an institutional approach with built-in four strategies. The strategies are: reducing the discretionary powers of public office holders; improving law enforcement; civil service reform and increasing transparency and citizens’ oversight. If Nigeria’s leadership can be strong enough to adopt these strategies, institutions will be strengthened.

Over the years, the emphasis has been on civil service reforms, which tended to promote stakeholders in urban governance. The traditional approach did not establish a link between government, capital and civil society. At the national level, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides legitimacy for governments as expressed through the constitution. While the role of national governments set the standards and the institutional framework for development, the private sector’s legitimacy is based on its role of creating jobs and employment, which in turn generates taxes to fund government programmes.

Then Nigeria’s Senate President David Mark (2012) said that the emergence of social media like facebook twitter, blackberry messenger, YouTube, Google Plus etc have changed the face of media practice by making information sharingeasier, faster and quicker, but social media has become a threat to the ethics of media practice and good governance. He suggested that schools of mass communication and journalism should review their curricular to include the operations of social media. The Senate President tacitly see as unleashing terror on society by an angry hungry practitioner who transfer aggression on government and politicians – who are victims of social media onslaught.

Whereas the assertions of the Senate President may be correct, Social Media has made government more transparent, open and public office holders more accountable. Even in the law making process, civil society now demands public hearing to know if the legislators are protecting the people or consummating their electoral promises. Legislative demands contained in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) presume that government and public institutions can be held accountable for actions.

Enterprise social networking has also improved business strategy. Most enterprises now engage in collaborating with social media service providers such as Google, Microsoft; Yahoo etc for integration and information sharing. Share points are very effective deployments to customer’s premises. Amy (2013) avers that since the advent of social media, financial services have leveraged on the tools, you can deploy a social media strategy to boost your business without raising any red flags.

Social media is also used by government for poverty alleviation programmes through ICT. Poverty reduction programmes are being monitored via radio, newspaper, mobile phones and communicated to the beneficiaries. At all levels of government, views and channels and communications are being reinforced through information sharing – which in itself has generated substantial amount of employment. Through the use of social media information sharing, the technical support can be solved by strengthening sustainable poverty reduction strategy which are essential components of poverty reduction. The Women and Youth Employment Scheme (W-YES) needs to be focused to create sustainable employment.

Social media can be used to beam a searchlight on the National Assembly and the entire Leghislature as it is done in USHAHIDI. Ushahidi platform is a collaborative project created by volunteers and managed by a core team. Ushahidi was a website initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya, but since then it transformed into a Collaborative Platform where people can phone-in, make comments and monitor the parliament. Such a platform can be established to monitor the activitiesof law makers at all levels.

Social media can be used to expose contractors in the power sector. Social media tools like the facebook can be used to publish contract details such as name of contractor, contract sum, mobilization paid; target date for completion rate etc. then stakeholders can mobilize to put pressure on such contractors to complete the jobs. Social media can take a step further to x-ray the process of award of contracts to see if it is transparent and due process is followed.

On corruption, social media tools could be deployed to publish the list of corrupt persons, form alliance with international agencies such as Transparency International, Amnesty International, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Group of State Against Corruption (GRECO) to enforce travel ban, freezing of accounts offshore, outright confiscation of property and to push for the trial of such corrupt persons.

The social media can empower the Public Complaints Commission and the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to pursue litigations to secure convictions to serve as a deterrent. Social media can be used as a platform for mobilizing regional and continental agencies to make legislations to strengthen and bridge the gap between implementation of anti-corruption laws and the crusade for due process. Corruption is endemic and ubiquitous in all spheres of life. It is the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.

The benefit of corruption is immense and detrimental. It costs lives, freedom and health of people; it affects the development of the nation and hangs a negative stigma on the nation internationally.

Corruption thrives where temptationco-exists with permissiveness.Where institutional checks on power are missing, where decision making remain obscure, where civil society is thin on the ground, where great inequalities in the distribution of wealth condemn people to live in poverty that is where corruption flourishes… source book and our Corruption Online Research and Information System (CORIS 2006).

There is no doubt that with the popularization of the social media and coupled with the intensity of anti-corruption movements around the world, the carcinogenic virus of corruption will be curtailed.

Whereas the National Assemblyis expected to bridge their communication and collaborative gap with global agencies, NGOs must be empowered to intensify the crusade if not in the law courts, in the Court of Public Opinion. Members of anti-graft agencies should also build their capacities to grapple with the strange, innovative ways the scourge is perpetrated. Public office holders should also discharge moral and selfless service to the nation. Since corruption is globalised, new options and more efficacious strategies must be evolved to address the scourge. It demands on overall, holistic strategy to fight the monster.

SOCIAL MEDIA, PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND THE BINARY OPTION

It is incontrovertible that every nation adopts its own growth and development strategy on the basis of her geography, historical, economic, political and socio-cultural realities. Essentially too, each country must develop or strengthen institutions and bureaucracies to support its development agenda. Sadly, this has not happened in Nigeria because her institutions are weak.

Many nations have embraced ICT as a means of promoting transparency and strengthen national institutions. The use of social media is central to this purpose. Social media will bring to the front burner information accountability – that is the extent to which representatives provide information to their constituencies. There is representational accountability – that is the extent to which deliberations at both executive and legislative levels can be addressed. Then the extent to which legislators ensure the performance of their oversight functions on using the resources to promote the welfare of the people is also critical to governance accountability.

Social media is a survey tool as well as advocacy weapon in influencing stakeholders. Social media practitioners on facebook and blogs can engage in blind advocacy - that is a technique of advocacy without a specific person, institution in mind.

With the use of social media;
• The public can compel public office holders to give period account of their stewardship.

• They can demand for more access to information flow from government to the citizens in the spirit and letters of the FOIA. Here, all relevant information on income and expenditure should be published on the internet.

• There is also a need for social media practitionersto push for civil society participation in the budget making process and other laws that are critical to the wellbeing of the people.

• Social media can be deployed to increase interface between elected representatives and their constituencies through town-hall meetings and other interactive platforms.

• Social media has created awareness so much so that the citizens will demand for consultative approach to governance.

• Social media can get information across to the people through established channels such as electronic newsletter, list-servers, discussionforums; text messaging etc. it is a vital tool for mobilization. The aforementioned issues require effective coordination and the building of formidable platforms for action.

Strengthening public institutions through the instrumentality of social media requires a multi-pronged approach. The development of a state is hinged on the ability to promote and sustain human capacities and structural transformations. In its 2011 Economic Report on Africa, ECA, the critical role of structural transformation in delivering macroeconomic and sectoral policies is underpinned by strong institutions. Social Media can be used as an instrument of mobilization. This is evidenced in what Evgeny Morozov points out:

“the challenge of anyone analyzing how the Internet may affect the overall effectiveness of political activism, is first, to determine the kind of qualities and activities that are essential to the success of the democratic struggle in a particular country or context and second, to understand how a particular medium of campaigning or facilitating collective action affects those qualities and activities.”

Here lies the binary option. Our leaders have an option to allow laissez-faireism to flourish or change the business –as –usual scenario in the light of current realities. Since the foundation for economic transformation is underscored by visionary leadership, efficient bureaucracy and the right development strategy, we have the burden of maintaining the no-grow status quo or overhaul the system to build globally competitive institutions for efficiency and effectiveness. Another binary option lies in our collective resolve to aggregate the effort of governmental and non-governmental actors to fight corruption to a standstill or allow this unedifying situation to drag the nation to the slippery slope of failure. We have a duty to raise the awareness on the cankerworm or allow the monster to eat the future of our children. We shall gain a lot if we set up a social media platform to monitor the activities of those we have elected or remain passive and allow the unending plunder to continue. It is a fact that developing nations invest in human capital as well as embrace the New Innovation System (NIS). Again, we have another binary option to keep the nation safe to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or allow insecurity walk on four legs to diminish the potentials of our great nation. We have to choose between public – sector led growth or private sector – driven development.

There is a five-pronged strategy framework for promoting transparency and institutional abuilding. First is assessment and monitoring the strength of the institutions. Second is to have access to information with a view to measuring stakeholders’ access to information and participation in decision-making. Third is emphasis on ethics and integrity. Ethics helps to clarify adherence to commitments to public truth. Fourth is to clarify institutional reforms – which involve streamlining administrative procedures that can promote participation and accountability. Finally, there is need for targeting specific issues as rallying points for positive change

With specific reference to facebook, which is powered by a billion users, people around the world employ the use of facebook which makes it a worldwide commodity.No doubt, Facebook is the most powerful social media and social networking site. Facebook can be use to connect with institutions, Ministries and agencies for updates of their programmes and communicate gray areas. Inter-ministerial relationships can be engendered. This can open windows of communication, collaboration, synergy and complimentarity. Fan pages, and blogs can be opened for the public to make comments on how to strengthen institutions and increase productivity.

CONCLUSION
Linz and Stephen (1999) suggest five interrelated variables that must exist for democracy to exist. That include: the rule of law to guarantee citizens freedom; functional state bureaucracy to deliver public goods, institutionalized economic society. . In this direction, Social Media can help to strengthen these variables and confer legitimacy on them. Essentially too, the readiness of the stakeholders to play their legitimate roles depending on the ability of the State to follow institutionalized procedures. In Nigeria, Democratic Institutions are very fragile and often unable to protect and promote sustainable democracy. This where Social Media can mobilize and facilitate popular participation by creating awareness, tenacity of purpose, interest aggregation and building master-mind alliances.

Social Media is capable of strengthening democratic institutions through a gradual process of public awareness, advocacy, and transparency practices and compelling public office holders to be accountable. Democracy means participation-which is sine qua non to good governance. Political participation must involve the citizens in decision-making. Social Media platforms like the facebook and Youtube can be used for roust political debate on national issues and create awareness among the electorate. Thus, Social Media can increase the scope of agenda setting, marketing of political ideologies and popular participation. Social media for public participation in a nascent democracy can be very rewarding, as it engenders good governance.

To utilize Social Media tools effectively and properly, you must absolutely generate spontaneous communications in direct response to what others are saying or to what is happening in that moment. Be yourself. Be conversational. Be engaged. Monitor, engage, and be transparent; these have always been the keys to success in the digital space……Aliza Sherman.

In the final analysis, if we deploy social media infrastructure maximally to promote transparency and demand for accountability; Nigeria’s weak institution will be rejuvenated to place our national economy on a fast orbit of development. We can use ICT infrastructure to put government policies on the cyberspace to encourage open budgeting and to reconfigure the architecture of government to encourage zero tolerance for corruption, the citizens will insist on participating in the business of government. The people, netizens will then own the process of policy articulation and erect the building block of a system where every public office holder is accountable to the people in the spirit of true democracy.

John Idumange
John Idumange, © 2019

This author has authored 43 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: JohnIdumange

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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