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Monday, September 16, 2013

Why Bloggers Fail to Make it Like Linda Ikeji - Chinedu Ekeke

“When the going gets tough as a blogger, it’s easier to start up a new thing than to remain consistent. It gets to a stage where you think you chose a wrong niche, a wrong business name, a wrong this and that, then you is pushed to quit your present project to pursue a new one with the intent of changing your niche and maybe the business name. But don’t do that, because by so doing you end up running in circles, starting up new ventures and never truly driving any home. I have seen it happen over and over again.” Before you delve into blogging, it is imperative to have a plan and a reason to blog; if these are not clearly defined, you would end up creating hundreds of defunct blogs.

“Sometimes people come to me and say they want to start blogging and I ask them if they can withstand blogging as a beginner. Do you know the problem with blogging?
“People have this notion that once you own a blog, you become popular, and then because of Linda’s success as a blogger; they assume you will make money, and none of those things are entirely true.”
These are the words of Chinedu Ekeke; activist, writer, blogger and Co-owner of and (El communications).

“There’s a side of blogging that people have to know” he continued,“Why it might make you popular is that if people kept reading, at some time they may want to know the brain behind the blog, and the money will take you quite a while but not everyone can get to that ‘while’ point. There’s a side of blogging that people ought to know. You create a blog and think it’s beautiful; you start publishing and publicising but few months into it, the initial excitement wanes. You begin to look at the demands of owning a blog, reality sets in; you need to publish every day, you have no strength or zeal, and money is not even coming in to encourage you, rather you are spending, just then you want to quit. You begin to look at the mistakes you have made, brand name, niche, and then you want to dump it and start something else. But I must say that at this time one must persevere and just keep doing it.”

I remember meeting Chinedu Ekeke around this same time last year at a conference after I had noticed and observed the part he played as a motivator and influencer during the Occupy Nigeria protest in response to the removal of fuel subsidy. I had benignly read his numerous articles on Sahara Reporters and other media platforms. These pieces so factual and distinctive; you wouldn’t need a native doctor’s calabash or mantras to decipher the brilliance and power behind the man who stood 5ft7″ tall and in his early 30’s. Nedu as he’s fondly called is a thoughtful, intelligent and an ‘angry’ young individual as Japhet Omojuwa once wrote and Abati once inferred. Honest, unbiased, patriotic, and has words that readily tells of his disapproval, disappointment, disdain and sadness over Nigeria’s condition and the failing decisions of the Federal Government today.

Before meeting Nedu last year, I’d kept up with him on twitter by following his @Nedunaija handle. I tried to read every of his tweet, joined his twitter debates, insights, arguments. And when he launched his blog; a platform that offers Nigerian youths a base to articulate, debate and express their diverse views on the state and affairs of the country, I was among the first people to write comments if not the first. I remember tweeting at him saying; “Nedu, the love and anger you bear for Nigeria’s affairs is just as that flint that bear fire. You remind me of the man I once was”. the blog today is of course different from what it was last year when we first met. Nedu apparently at some point decided to drive the blog into new territories and which of course would stretch resources, and hopefully generate revenue.

“Yes new sections were added to the blog in bid to have diversified new content other than just politics. We still hold our political views and have no plans of leaving it. The Ekekeee model still remains. I and Jude still write and so do others. We have expanded; we now get fresh news, very fresh. We have our sources and can be quoted. Sports and entertainment are the new grounds we are about to conquer. The ‘commenteriat’ which is the key of the Ekekeee blog still plays its role. The idea is to build a community of ardent readers and followers to drive political views and otherwise and then money should come, or shouldn’t money come?” He asked rhetorically. “Because I have been committed to that blog for two years now, we’ve been investing money on data management, on everything; time and energy sourcing for information and news, the bills have to be paid so long we don’t go begging PDP or government officials for stolen money. Where we are now is the plan, we still have a long way to go.”

“The monetization of the blog all those times didn’t pay much. Many see Google adsense ads and think that so much money is being made but let me ask, how much is Google adsense paying? Do you want me tell you how much I made in Google adsense in 2 years? Stipends! Do you know that adsense has been modified, such that even with all your hits, the amount per click is too insignificant, because advertisers aren’t paying much, and 75% of your visitors come through mobile and you know the people who click ads on mobile are a lot fewer than on desktop. Thus, Ekekeee blog is still an ongoing project as we are still trying to fine tune its path towards a certain future.”

“My company El Communications of which the Ekekeee blog is a product of, runs PR. We manage images of companies and individuals, do press releases for organisations and companies and use social media to drive it. Very soon I shall discontinue twitter marketing although I’m still yet to finally decide. In the last 3 months I’ve had to turn down some offers because of my unwillingness. I have no reasons in mind though”.
In one of his articles ‘Opportunity cost of corruption’, one could feel his pains and utmost chagrin as he wrote; “This article will be not be taken seriously by those who need it; the president and his team. They don’t run a government of common sense; they run a regime of miracles. They squander billions in subsidy fraud, dubious budgets for cutlery and banquet halls, and then ‘trust God’ with our national development”. So much power in the tongue i am thinking, as I inquire his beef with the Nigerian presidents.
“I still have some respect for OBJ compared to the present one who doesn’t have any clue, force and will. I have a lot of aversion for Mr Jonathan. I can’t stand him. There’s nothing he is doing right. He gets everything wrong. If I had five minutes with Jonathan, I will tell him that one cannot govern any country without knowing that corruption and impunity will eat up any effort one makes. Corruption has to be stopped first then we will have money. Look at it this way, governing Nigeria well is about money because if we have enough money, we will build power stations, roads, standard rails, electric trains, there will be water everywhere and more infrastructures. We need so much money to massively develop Nigeria. There’s no way we can do this things because some people keep stealing this money and nothing happens to them. Can you imagine that we are still on the case of three trillion naira that was stolen from subsidy up till today? Thus, only a joker would try to govern a state with such level of corruption”.

Nedu is a remarkable character. On one hand there is a man driven by old fashioned values of integrity, hard work and passion for his country. On the other is a new-age thinker, who believes in washing away old depleted structures and having new ones erected. When I talk of the occupy Nigeria protest, results, personal goals and future, his interest is awoken.
“Once you take care of corruption every other thing works. If you know that as a lecturer you are well paid and you go to school and do not do your research but rather teach your students excerpts from your lecture notes of 1990, and you know that you would be sacked, you won’t do such a thing.  Someday I will retire as a lecturer, maybe at 50 – 55. As a trained accountant I still consult, set up accounting systems for businesses; thus I hope to teach ‘modern’, accounting, taxation, pay rolls etc. I was not ok with the impact of the Occupy Nigeria. I expected a result that will come with a bang, a total reversal of the price increment which never happened because a group of people ‘the labour  people’ who did not understand what was at stake got frightened by the powers of the senate,  got promised committee appointments, got bribed and chickened out. If we the real people involved in those protests had gone to represent us, we wouldn’t have been in this same place; the outcome would have been different. If a total reversal was achieved, the government would have been starved of that extra fund they wanted, thereby forcing them to look inward and question why such amount of money was spent on subsidy then eventually be forced to recover the money by prosecuting the people involved”.

On the difference between Nedunaija and Ekekeee, he replied; “Nedunaija was on twitter as Nedunaija, Ekekeee is a blog that was built, but Nedunaija handled the Ekekeee twitter account as one entity. Ekekeee is a media platform owned by El communications which in turn is owned by me and a partner Jude Egbas. Thus, Ekekeee had to be separate. Nedunaija is my personal account while Ekekeee is an official account. The Nedunaija is Chinedu who is actually obsessed with the Nigerian quagmire, challenge and story.”
When asked about ASUU Vs FG and the ongoing crisis in Syria, his eyes lit up with this patriotic flare I swore I’d seen many times in a Mel Gibson movie.
“I would have started bombing Syria, you don’t kill your people because they don’t want you. You don’t kill the weak. This is a moral war and not one driven by greed like the one in George bush’s administration. I saw the pictures of the activists killed by the chemical weapon, i felt so sad. I think America should go ahead with the assault and let’s see what happens next. The weak must be defended.”
“Many say ASUU is greedy, what a foolish utterance. They are ill-informed. What is the greed? A common legislator earns as much as 30 million a month and a professor earns maybe 200,000 naira after 25 or years. Do the math. What are ASUU’s demands? Better working conditions salaries and allowances, money for research, conditions of the universities. We can keep pretending that all is well. The government has no political will and is not willing to do anything good in Nigeria”. The talk is still ongoing, the students are losing time and you know the labor market doesn’t employ you if you are beyond a certain age, so what then happens?”

Nedu says most of this people in the government calling the shots have their children studying abroad where there is no time lapse. That this should be interpreted as another war against the poor so that their children would be the only ones that can get employed.



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