The Art of Creating Complicated Sympathy and the Challenge of Managing Government-Citizens Crisis in Nigeria
Nothing has shaped government-citizens relationships in the last two decades more than social media. In developed and developing countries, Facebook, Twitter among others, have helped and still assisting citizens to express their grievances on poor governance and support of exemplary leaders. Citizens are also more inclined to connect and interact on issues that affect prominent citizens and the vulnerable.
These are the pointers to the fact that managing issues and crises being fuelled in the virtual sphere requires specific strategies and techniques. Such remedies must be tailored to emerging emotions and dispositions of the actors and non-actors. Infoprations understands this after modelling the recent demolition of part of Fresh FM Radio Station premises owned by Yinka Ayefele, a popular Gospel Musician in Nigeria. He chose music as his profession after a ghastly motor accident on December 12, 1997, which damaged his spinal cord. In order to get the required funds for surgical operations, he released a music album to raise the funds.
Public Interest in the Demolition
Being a prominent and physically challenge citizen, the public interest in the demolition was high. Analysis indicates that the two actors –Yinka Ayefele and Governor Abiola Ajimobi were mostly considered for the understanding of the reasons for the demolition. Statistics shows that the public interest in knowing demolition in connection with the musician was 52.8% while Governor Ajimobi was 53.5%.
The analysis further indicates that having more knowledge about demotion was premised on understanding Yinka Ayefele, Ayefele music, Yinka Ayefele Music House, Fresh FM, Oyo State and Abiola Ajimobi searches by 6.5%. Demotion as a concept was also found to be understood by Abiola Ajimobi, Yinka Ayefele and Fresh FM searches by 38.1%.
Infoprations equally discovered that demolition, demolished, Fresh FM, Yinka Ayefele and demolishing enhanced searching for Yinka Ayefele by 92.2% and Governor Abiola Ajimobi by 97.4%. These insights indicate the people in the 43 countries are considering Yinka Ayefele and Governor Abiola Ajimobi as frames through which they could understand demolition from Nigerian context.
Complicated Sympathy as a Challenge to Sustainable Crisis Management
As expected, public knowledge of demotion, demolition and Yinka Ayefele’s previous ordeals invokes different emotions which connote sympathy. Anger, fear, joy and sadness were found in the people’s reactions to the demolition and after the radio station begun operations. While expressing their feelings, calamity, sad, evil, anger, mistrust, hatred, condemn, callous, bastard, guilty, compensation, gullible, vendetta, senseless, happy, preventing, bad, destroy, regret, heartless, miserable, blame, wrong, barbaric, benign, interest, wealth, abominable, irrational, tyranny among others were discovered dominant words used to frame the crisis.
These words are positive and negative. The complexity of understanding these words is hinged on the fact that people who expressed their feelings combined the two types, while exhibiting anger, fear, joy and sadness, indicating highly uncertain nature of the people and a significant threat to crisis managers.
The analysis further reveals that Nigerians could not control their anger after the demolition. Anger became tense after the Fresh FM Radio begun operations. Their level of fear was low compared to what they exhibited after the station started broadcasting of programmes and news. The sadness level was the same for the post-demolition and after the station kicked off operations. Understandably, Nigerians were happier when the station started operations again than post-demolition period.
These insights indicate that in a government-citizen face-off it would be difficult for anger, fear and sadness to dissipate among stakeholders because negative words would always be moderators as long as people relaying on negative messages to understand the actors. In crises like this, crisis managers should employ words and engage in actions capable of reducing anger, fear and sadness, and the possibility of the negative communication dynamic in the virtual sphere.