1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The rising of the Information Communication Technology particularly social media have made the public domain to grow while information that used to be in the expert domain is becoming publicly available and new mechanisms for public involvement are being explored.
According to Akinfeleye, (2015) in a political chart on Channels TV prior to the 2015 General Election in Nigeria established that members of the mass media are no longer the only body setting agenda on social-political-economy matters again in this era of citizen journalism as citizens are now part of the agenda setters who set it through their social media timeline, group, blog and many other online platforms this prevented media monopoly and hegemony.
Today, people can discuss government policies, programmes, activities and pass their judgement through social media which translated to their participation in governance. This activities among the citizens is called citizens journalism or civic journalism.
For instance, kidnapping of the over 200 Chibok school girls some two years ago was know within few days and went viral on social media with different opinion, also, the release of 21 Chibok girls became an issue of debate among Nigerians on social media, blogs, web pages and so on within few seconds of the incidence with difference headings and picture picked from different angles. The same occur when the government announced the removal of fuel subsidy and to the recent announcement of sales of government asset.
However, advancement in Information and Communication Technology otherwise known as new media in this 21st century has revolutionalized all facets of human activities including communication, interaction and politics.
Kur (2004) in Awake Magazine (2002) posits that the dynamic nature of the 2lst century and more centuries to come rest on technological revolution. No wonder, Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian English Professor in 1964 propounded the concept of “Global Village” regarding the entire globe as having the potentials of becoming a “global community” where information and news about anything and anywhere in the world would be readily available for anyone’s consumption in any part of the world (Christopher, 2012).
Vangie, (2015:1) says as of August 07, 2015 there was an estimated three billion, one hundred seventy nine million thirty five thousand two hundred (3,179,035,200) Internet users worldwide. The number of Internet users represents nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. According to world meters.info, world population is below 7.4 billion with projection that more than 5 billion people will be online by 2020 (Cicso, 2015) is a name of ogranisation
The country with the largest number of Internet users is China, followed by the United States and India in September 2014. In Africa continent, Nigeria is top among the users of internet with 86,219,965 March 30, 2016.
According to Adedeji (2015) in Suomen Toivo–Think Tank (2012) writes that “social media are new information network and information technology using a form of interactive communication skills, where users produce the content of information and interpersonal relationships are established and maintained in the process. A typical social media services could be content sharing, web communities, or an Internet forum.
On the social media, the users are not passive like in the case of television, radio, and newspaper, rather they are now active in the formation and exchange of information (Adedeji, 2015).
An information that emanated from a member of the forum might become topical and even spread beyond where it was first discussed. Typical examples of social media Include: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google+”.
Today, social media is deeply involved in shaping public opinion, perceptions and an awareness of events as they unfold. Information that used to be private domain is now in the public domain as citizens are now part of information gathering and dissemination (Robert and Godwin, 2012).
More recently, citizen journalism (also known as public journalism) has become the media equivalent of grassroots democracy. This is because, as each participatory democracy encourages its citizens to participate and contribute to the administration of the state, so citizen journalism allows for public engagement in the media practice.
A tremendous change in the Nigerian political process has been the rise of social media. How social media has influenced politics in Nigeria is prominently shown in the way that political parties were unable to change election results as they were coming out of the various polling stations. The use of platforms such as Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApps, Twitter, Blog, MySpace, YouTube and Instagram have emerged as an important means of electioneering and the policing of election results (Audu, 2015).
The same social media was used for election it could be used for other activities such as checkmating government in the form of cyber activism, cyber mobilization on issues of public interest.
It against this background that the research examines social media as an effective tool to checkmate activities of governance especially to check government excesses, expressing their opinions, views about government activities; programmes etc. that ordinary might not be possible through traditional mass media.