ABSTRACT: The research is carried out on the thrust to examine the SMS political advertising on voting pattern of electorate in election. Short Message Service otherwise known as SMS play a crucial role in political mobilization, political awareness and in influencing the voting behaviour of electorate as it was tested during the 2014 governorship election in both Ekiti and Osun State that is why it was also used in Abia State gubernatorial election. Survey research method was adopted coupled with 300 copies of questionnaire that were administered to the electorate to find out whether they receive any sms that associate with politics during 2015 gubernatorial elections in Abia State and the how it influenced them. Out of 300 copies that were administered, 289 copies were returned upon which analysis was based. Frequency and simple percentage method coupled with table were used in analyzing the data. It is recommended that political parties, politicians, INEC and other stakeholders like National Orientation Agency etc should keep in touch with voters individually by sending SMS to them either to canvas for vote or to educate them on political conduct and in an attempt to get text messages across to the electorate, they can get the data of this demographic group from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) data base with the new SIM registration phenomenon, this should not be a difficult task.
1.1 Background to the study
Advancement in technology in this century has influenced and revolutionalized every human activities to include governance and political system not only in the most advanced or civilized world but also in Nigeria. Today political mobilization, education and manifestoes are not basis on physical gathering of hundreds, thousand or millions in a particular location alone but now on through cyber-spares where voters and groups can be reached directly though sms or social media on their mobile. This system of campaign is more direct, personal and effective as every voters counts themselves worthy and as a major stakeholder this also create a sense of belongings.
Also, voters are encouraged to participate in an election through sms, while donation for political party or candidate are also enabled through sms. This was manifested when the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola Raji (SAN) as APC PCC director of campaign fund committee unveiled five platforms through which interested Nigerians could make monetary contributions to the Buhari/Osinbajo campaign, which are: banks, e-payment, short message service, SMS, ringtones and scratch cards. Without mincing words, SMS is an emerging tool to canvas for vote in an election while political mobilization and struggle can be champion through sms on GSM.
The Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) is one of these technologies. GSM came to Nigeria in January 2001 shortly after Olusegun Obasanjo was voted into power as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Aishat, A. S. (2012) adds that this marked a watershed in the history of communications in the country. Since this experience, which is popularly referred to as the “GSM Revolution”, mobile phones have become a popular interactive technology in Nigeria, offering both young and old opportunities to communicate through voice and text messages. However, in spite, of the fact that voice calls are common, text messaging has become a popular
Therefore, Kavassalis et al, (2003:56) defines SMS advertising as message sent to consumers’ cell phones to provide consumers or people with time and location sensitive information that promotes goods, services and ideas, thereby generating value for all stakeholders.
SMS has been the most successful non-voice service for mobile operators in the history of telecommunications and, as such, has been a key revenue generator. Every year stories of the demise of this 1-6O character service are thick in the air, and every year SMS usage continues to grow as more uses are found for this once ignored service. Wikipedia (2015)
The key to the success of SMS has been its simplicity, reach, price and reliability. All other messaging based applications launched since SMS have struggled to meet the lofty expectations set by the service and pale in comparison to its success. Industry-related reports point to a future in which SMS volumes and revenue will continue to grow on a global basis for at least the next three years. So what is going to drive this level of growth? In short, several trends will drive the continued expansion of the service such as politics, business and other.
At present lots of people and individuals are using SMS today for sending direct and personal information to GSM users with the contents either to promote business, political ideology, business or other personal ideas.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Little research has been conducted with regard to the influence of political SMS campaign on voting habits in Nigeria even in Africa or voters perceptions of SMS political advertising and how it impacted on the political system of Nigeria. Majority of the research conducted with regard to voters attitude towards mobile or SMS political advertising has been conducted in foreign countries where it findings, due to cultural differences, advancement in technology age, literacy and differences in the adoption of technology, may not directly apply to Nigeria voters or political system in Nigeria.
Similarly, GSM users in Nigeria receive many SMS promo and advert on a daily basis with many of this asking them to subscribe for one service or the other such as caller turn, news alert, health tips alert, religion messages while many SMS messages focus on win promos and so on. These kind of messages have made SMS message advert more irritating in fact many don’t have time to read it rather they delete it instantly and if political SMS is receive there is tendency to be deleted without reading, there by turning the exercise into waste/flinty. Another problem associate with SMS usage is that many of the messages are composed in English language and million of electorate who are illiterates cannot be mobilized. Nevertheless, if the campaign messages are well composed with catch headline it goes a long way in drawn and winning many voters to the sender record. It is against this backdrop that the research investigates the SMS political advertising (messages) and voting pattern of electorates in the 2015 Governorship election in Abia State.
1.3 Objectives of the study
- To examine the extent in which electorates in Abia state receive Political SMS advert in the 2015 governorship election in the state.
- To examine the influence of political SMS on the electorate voting behaviour in the 2015 governorship election in the state.
1.4 Research questions
- To what extent do electorates in Abia state receive Political SMS advert in the 2015 governorship election in the state?
- What influence does political SMS have on the electorate voting behaviour of the 2015 governorship election in the state?
1.5 Significance of the study
As an academic work which intends to pass through scientific scrutiny. The research aims to add to the academic knowledge both for the benefit of researcher and students of great minds.
It will serve as eye-openers for politicians, political parties and particularly political campaign directors or managers on how best to use SMS as part of their advertising strategies to canvas for vote and win more voters.
It will also change the attitude of the voters towards SMS messages and not to take every sms with levity but read and digest it.
Importantly, those who want to engage in similar topic will find it very useful by serving as reference point.
This will invariably allow such researcher to pin point the weak area of the work and the same time, make correction(s) for the benefit of future researchers.
1.6 Scope of the study
The research has been narrowed in scope to the electorates in Abia state. Abia state is divided into three senatorial districts and in each district a local government will be selected where respondents will be picked using purposive sampling method. Demographic factors of the respondents will be examined before the structuring and administration of the research instrument. Such factor includes but not limited to age, gender, education, marital status, e.t.c.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
It is not an overstatement that a work of this nature cannot be carried out without some hard days, however below are some of the constraints to this work.
There are many limitations ranging from not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segment of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work and others are:
- Stress from other academic activities is one of the limitations to the research work
- Financial constraint to gather materials for this research both online and in distance libraries.
- Duration for the research work is relatively short compared to the task ahead.
- Materials that are available on this topic is relatively small as the concept is new or people are not written from that angle.
1.8 Operational definition of the terms
SMS: The full meaning of the abbreviation SMS is Short Message Service. It is a message containing political communication that is sending to voters in order to vote for either their political party or a particular candidate in an election.
Political Messages: These are political advertising, political manifestoes or political promises to canvas for vote during poll
Mobile phone: This is an electronic devices used to make calls or send SMS, mms and other activities across a wide geographical areas.
Voting Pattern: This refers to the decision to desire to vote a particular candidate during election.
Electorate: These are the people within the voting age with readiness to elect other representative particularly governor in Abia state.
2015 gubernatorial: The election held in 2015 to elect governor in Abia state.
Election: It refers to the act of voting for a particular candidate or party to political offices such as 2015 governorship election in Abia state.