Dept: POLITICAL SCIENCE File: Word(doc) Chapters: 1-5 Views: 4


The use of social media as a formidable force for social engineering and political electioneering has continued to grow. The technology is participatory, interactive and cost-effective. This has made it the medium of the moment as far as political communication and participation are concerned. The problems associated with the usage of social media in elections in Nigeria a quite cumbersome. This is associated with the problem that Nigeria has not reached the stage of the technology coverage whereby everyone has access to the internet whereby it is cheap and accessible as in the case of the United States of America whereby social media is accessible to virtually everyone in the country.



1.1 Background to Study

The use of social media in politics has continued to grow in recent years. Since Barack Obama broke the world record in the history of social media use for political purpose during the 2008 presidential elections, many nations and politicians across the globe have continued to embrace the platform to mobilise their citizens and candidates towards active participation in the political process. Nigeria had the first real test of social media use for political participation and electioneering campaign during the 2011 presidential election. This was seen in the creation of Facebook and twitter profiles by the candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. This move put him a step over its nearest competitor by over 10 million votes. It has led to most scholars that President Goodluck social media game was the reason for his dominant victory in the 2011 Presidential Election. This was not so previously, as network television and newspapers dominated coverage of electioneering and were the primary sites of election related information. But today, the social media has become a major election information sharing platform globally. Because of its ease of use, speed, and reach, social media is revolutionizing the efficiency of election administration, coverage and reporting.

Before the advent of the new media, the older or conventional media – radio, television, newspapers, magazines, etc., ruled the world, and had directly or indirectly blocked popular participation in the electoral process. This is because there has always been scarcity of space and airtime given by the conventional media to the citizens to have their say in politics, governance and in the electoral process. Conventional media critics such as (Graber, 1976; Fallows 1996; Blumler and Gurevitch, 1995) cited in

(Abubakar, A.A, 2011.)

thus believe that voters were left with paid political propaganda containing only meaningless slogans, making them disinterested and cynical about politics. They argue that there is absence of serious debate in the conventional media that could make people to learn the substance of issues and policies proposals as well as related arguments, and that this disallows citizens from participating actively in political discourse.  


(Denver, 2007)

maintains that communicating with voters in the hope of influencing their behaviour is not new. It is as old as competitive politics itself. Denver continues that “For as long as there have been contested elections . . . those standing for election and their supporters have endeavoured . . . to persuade the relevant electorate to vote for them.”  They also enlighten voters on the election process which is an essential ingredient for a successful election. This is particularly crucial in view of the fact that in developing societies like Nigeria the level of political awareness is very low. Lack of political awareness is greatly associated with the predominance of illiterates that constitute the electorate. Consequently, the uninformed electorate tend to ignore character or issues like infrastructure, unemployment, corruption, insecurity, and living conditions. Their voting decisions are rather based on trivial considerations like party loyalty, social ties, ethnic and religious affiliation. This has inclined

(Jibo, 1997)

to the view that in Tiv land, the party followers used to say that “A lu kon kpaa se votu”. That is, they were prepared to vote for even a tree if it was their party’s candidate.” Politicians, thus exploit voters’ lack of knowledge to perpetrate and consolidate the existing culture to their gain. This must have prompted

(Idiong, 2010)

to admit that “In Nigeria, there has been noticeable tendency on the part of the news media to overplay the personality rather than the issue.” It is not surprising, therefore, that as the Nigeria’s 2011 presidential elections approached and became more competitive, politicians and other stakeholders sought more efficient means of communicating their messages. One of the most efficient means was the media of mass communication which have now constituted the mainstream of modern electoral politics.

There has now been a change over the last decade in the way people access, consume and produce media: a shift away from mainstream media and toward internet based content and social media. Fifty-one per cent of Nigerians use the internet – of which 70 per cent are using social media (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all count in the top ten most visited sites in Nigeria). This is changing the way people get their news, and learn about issues.

Social media activity presents a novel way to research and understand attitudes, trends and media consumption. There is a growing number of academic and commercial efforts to make sense of social media data sets for research or (more typically) advertising and marketing purposes. From the inception of Ushahidi to collect and map reports of violence during the post-election period in Kenya in 2007, to the reliance on Twitter during Iran

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