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ICT AS CATALYST FOR PROMOTING CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

(Last Updated On: 30th November 2022)

Abstract : The paper examines ICT as catalyst for promoting credible elections and governance in Nigeria. This is necessary at this point in time when many Nigerians especially you are now active online particularly on social media and the passage of freedom of information during the past administration of Goodluck Jonathan which offers more freedom to citizen participation in governance. The research was anchored on technological determinism theory. The survey research method was adopted coupled with 100 copies of questionnaire that were administered to the respondents at the University of Benin using a multi-stage sampling approach. The data collected were analysed in frequency percentage and tables. The finding shows that the most commonly used ICT is social media among Nigerians. Most of the respondents received, shared and participated in a discussion about government activities and policies regularly online, although, they claimed that most information shared online are not credible as many share fake news, share hare comments and lots. It is recommended that ICT and other social media can be improved to enhance better public mobilization, sensitization and true democracy in Nigeria through citizen sensitization programmes, registration that involve national identity card. 


CREDIBLE ELECTIONS


INTRODUCTION

The rising of Information Communication Technology (ICT) 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. Advancement in Information and Communication Technology particularly in the area of social media in this 21st century has revolutionalized all facets of human activities including communication, interaction and political participation.  

Social networking sites are group of internet-based applications that are built on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 which allow the interaction, creation and sharing of information (as a text, video, audio, pictures, animation or combination). Examples include but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube etc. 

Kur (2004) cited 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, in 1964 propounded the concept of “Global Village” regarding the entire globe as having the potentials of becoming a “global community” where business, culture and education, information and news about anything and anywhere in the world would be readily available for anyone’s consumption in any part of the world, which means that the world is now compressed into a single electronic room where information and other activities are exchanged with just a click or mouse or touch a screen.

Nigeria is thus, ranked 7th position in terms of internet users growth worldwide in the 2018 with 98,391,456 internet users which is 49% of the country population. The number of Facebook users in Nigeria increased from 400, 000 in 2007 to over 17million in December 31, 2017 (Social Media Week, 2018). The country also boasts of a sizeable number of Twitter and YouTube users, running into millions (internetworldstats, 2018).

This shows that internet and social networking sites are already a community, perhaps the biggest community ever created artificially by human which comes with its own culture and norms. Ultimately, it has led to the formation of the online community or virtual world, which serves a variety of purposes including opinion formation (Ohiagu and Okorie, 2014).

Therefore, the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Wechat and many more 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, stated 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 which has prevented media monopoly and hegemony.

Today, people discuss government policies, programmes, election and pass their judgement through social media and other digital platforms which translated to their participation in governance. This activity among the citizens is called citizens journalism or civic journalism.  ICTs are sweeping away the limitations of the analogue world and weakening the grip of government-owned platforms of information mono-poly and control.

However, beyond elections, the flowering of democratic practice depends largely on the active participation of the people through different forms of political activities such as in the electoral process. One of the areas in which this active participation of the people has been enhanced, world over, is in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) platforms, being an instrument of political socialisation and means of political education, ICTs have galvanised massive citizen awareness and enhanced liberal values of individualism (Odeyemi and Mosunmola, 2015).

In the meantime, the quality of governance has been enhanced over the years as a result of many factors; among which is revolutions in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This has, in turn, impacted participation of citizens in public affairs; in relation to plurality of voices, advocacy, activism and electoral activities, enhanced by ICT platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Internet, thus deepening the democratic process (Diamond, 2010).

2015 General Election was characterized as the most e-electioneering in the history of Nigeria politics because of the high level of technology adopted at that time from the bio-metric card reader machine initiated by the electoral umpire, to the use of social media and digital platforms to mobilize, educate, enlighten, sensitise, debate and argue on political matters which eventually directly or indirectly influenced the voting pattern and choice of electorates. However, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Instagram.com and Youtube.com are considered to lead other digital platforms in terms of patronage by Nigerians during 2015 general.

Statement of the Problem

With the rise of the information communication technology (social media), the public domain is growing; information that used to be in the expert domain is becoming publicly available and new mechanisms for public involvement are being explored. Also, citizen did not know the level of freedom they enjoy in terms of freedom of expression and speech both online and offline while their limitations to the freedom of information remained unknown to them which is reflecting on their post, comment, tweet and what they follow or like online.

Also, the gross misused of the social media in the just conclude 2015 presidential election in Nigeria call for urgent attention on how to use social media during elections as unverified election results were tweeting, posting and sharing on twitter and facebook respectively.

Nevertheless, Facebook and Twitter offer unique platform for political education, debate, opinion exchange, dialogue, modification of opinions among others. To this end, paper examines ICT as catalysis for promoting credible elections and governance in Nigeria

Objectives of the Study

  1. To examine the degree of ICT/social media usage among University of Benin students in the 2019 General Election.
  2. To ascertain how Uniben students’ utilise ICT particularly social media during the 2019 general election.

Research Questions

  1. What is the degree of ICT/social media usage among University of Benin students in the 2019 General Election?
  2. How did Uniben students utilise ICT particularly social media during the 2019 general election? 

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