This Is How We’ll Sustain The Ginger: A Zikoko Citizen Manifesto

October 15, 2020

How do we start this?

Let’s start with a random day: you’re in a car or a bus, on your way home from work. It’s late. You’re eager to get home, eat and unwind in front of your favourite Nollywood web series. It’s dark. The street lamps are dead (typical). You see the flashlights before you see them, the men in uniform. Your mind is still on food. “Hay God,” you mutter as they start to slow down your vehicle. You know what they want. You say a silent prayer. You start to hide your iphone. You watch as they cock their guns, these men in uniform, and listen to their harsh voices telling everyone to get down. You’re scared, thinking at once of the multiple things you’ve not done with your life, the uneaten pounded yam and white soup in your fridge, and how you can ask for help before it escalates. You imagine the Twitter hashtag. You shudder. 

That’s our reality as young people in Nigeria and that’s only scratching the surface. Over the past couple of days, we’ve witnessed something groundbreaking in the history of Nigeria: young people of different tribes, different backgrounds, living in different cities, states and countries have assembled to protest SARS officers who oppress young people for simply existing. 

In this time, amongst several problems, the problem of information has been growing and spreading sporadically. False information and fake news is flying around, while at the same time, the news of the protests eludes different sets of people including a chunk of the older generation Nigerian. 

What did we do?

At Zikoko, we consolidated efforts to ensure that people were getting verified information at a timely manner, while at the same time providing updates and explaining the situation without the “grammar” that tends to exclude part of our people. We were (and are) providing updates on protest locations, telling the stories of people who have been victims and survivors of SARS brutality and updating our audience on government action. We have been trying to answer important questions: What happens when SARS is disbanded? Who has the power to disband SARS? and so much more. 

But even answering these questions was not enough. It was good to temporarily solve an information problem, but what about the knowledge problem?

As an organisation that cares about the things that affect our audience, including how society affects their personal lives, we decided to bring you something bigger. 

Enter, Zikoko Citizen: The Police Is Not Your Friend But Zikoko Is

A long time ago, we were told we were the leaders of tomorrow. Ironic that the same people who ruled us then still rule us now. They’re our governors, senators, representatives and even president.

Here’s where it gets interesting: 

As Citizens of a country, in this case, Nigeria, we have several rights and freedoms including the right and power to choose who our leaders are. We have the right to demand better policies and hold the people in power accountable. But how do we do this? 

That’s where Zikoko, your friend REALLY REALLY comes in: 

Before it even begins to become a problem, Zikoko’s Citizen wants to anticipate and find answers to your burning questions around governance and policy. Curious about what DaddyBubu or Wike or Sanwo is doing and how it affects you? — from employment to elections to health —  Citizen will be on the beat.

Think of Citizen as a knowledge-hole. Everything you need to know, broken down, simplified, and visually compelling through the use of infographics and simple illustration. 

So what we have the information now, what next?

Gbe body e, AKA action. One of the strong points of the EndSARS protests is that we first understood our rights as citizens of Nigeria — a right to life, a right to dignity, a right to freedom, amongst others  —  and secondly, we understood our leaders are to be held accountable. Using that knowledge and transforming it into something tangible as we’ve seen in the past few days is action.

Action comes in different forms: from protests, to petition to impeachment to getting your PVC so you can vote in elections

Let us paint you another quick example: it’s 2023. You’re on social media complaining about how messed up Naija is. The elections are in a few weeks, you really really want to vote o, but to go and be stressing yourself for ordinary permanent voter’s card? Your consign no reach like that. You also don’t really know who the candidates up for elections are. You see their posters around, and you know some of them because they were in power when you were in primary school, but the information is too scattered for your busy self. Imagine a database breaking down all the information you need to know about the elections including how to get your PVC and voting centres close to you? Imagine all of this data available months before the elections! That’s what Citizen will do. It will make the long game easier in the short term.  

Zikoko Citizen is that friend that will always help mobilize you to take action. You ask: There’s a problem, what can we do about it? Zikoko Citizen breaks down your options and explains what’s realistic.

Who is Zikoko Citizen for?

You, yes you reading this. Citizen is for you. Whether you’re abroad oh, or you’re in the process of japa-ing oh, or you’re still here, Citizen is for you.

Why should you care?

Because you deserve a say in the way things work in Nigeria and it’s high time we exercise some of it. You feel me?

When should you expect Zikoko Citizen stories?

Monday morning, 9am sharp. As you’re drinking your coffee like this, or sitting in commute, irritated by traffic, there’s a Citizen story waiting for you. 

And on Thursday by 9am, as you look forward to the weekend, there’ll be a new Citizen explainer patiently waiting for you to dive into it. 

After all the long talk here’s what we’re saying: Citizen helps you understand the problem and how to take action. 

Here’s how to follow the action

Here’s where it gets even sweeter

Citizen comes with a weekly newsletter that breaks all the important information to you in the simplest forms. You don’t want to not be on it.

If you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, hit us up here. We full ground. 

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