SOCIAL MEDIA AS TOOLS FOR POLITICAL MOBILIZATION IN NIGERIA

Abstract: The study examines social media as tools for political mobilization in Nigeria. The emergency and proliferation of social media otherwise known as citizen media has reshaped political education and mobilization in Nigeria. It offers platform for political debates, cyber activism, political campaign and political mobilization. The study was anchored on Technological Determinism. Survey research method was adopted while the data collection instrument was questionnaire. 250 copies of questionnaires that were administered to the respondents in OSPOLY and 180 were retrieved. Findings have shown that as a result of the political dispensation, political office holders, politicians, including president and governors now have and manage social media account such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram among others. Political leaders and political candidate now share their political agenda and mobilize people towards it propagation. It is recommended that, 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.


political mobilization

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

In the past politics and democracy, political mobilization, education and participation were done mainly by newspaper, magazine, radio and television. From the colonial day’s election, to post independence polls and to the enthronement of democracy in 1999; mass media have been a major platform for political communication, political awareness and public mobilization in order to sustain democratic principles.

Meanwhile, advancement in this century has paved way for modern means of mass communication facilitated by the internet called new media or social media. This which has boosted and reshaped means of passing and creating political awareness, participation and reducing political apathy among youth especially students.
Odeyemi, and Mosunmola (2015:1) describe election as the central component and the minimum necessary requirement for representative democracy, remains the only legitimate instrument for leadership turnover. It is a core aspect that requires the active involvement of citizens.

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.

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).

As people move from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp , people expose to political campaigns, programmes, manifestoes and comments that revolves around 2018 governorship election in Osun state. The debate and discourse is dominated by the two major political parties, All Progressive Congress and Peoples Democratic Party. The social media audience were also divided along two major political parties, PDP and APC.

Parties and supporters are trying to gain more support online which makes most of their posts and comments more critical and showing high level of competition, leading to some cyberbullying, hate speech and sensational reports.

Although, lots of voters and parties participated online discussing range of issues usually issues that the traditional media set as agenda such as governorship debate, certificate of the PDP candidate (Ademola Adeleke), Allegation of rigging, vote buying campaigns, violence prediction and host of other. It is against this backdrop that the research examines social media as tool for political mobilisation in Nigeria with the view to know the extent which people participated in political activities especially using social media and the extent which they share political messages in the past and in the future elections as electronic campaigns are now invoking.

1.2 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.

Also, the gross misused of the social media in the 2018 governorship election in Nigeria call for urgent attention on how to use social media during elections. Lack of official gatekeepers, inaccurate reports and unfair posting and sharing of information have been attributed as some of the problems hindering effective use of social media for political campaign, political mobilization, public sensitization and particularly in posting and sharing election results.

INEC and other stakeholder have severally warned citizens to desist from posting or sharing unverified information while announcement of elections results should be left for the electoral body (INEC) do make the pronouncement been the sole authority i.e citizen to desist from posting fictitious and frivolous election result on social media one had restricted that only INEC has the constitution mandate to do so but the mischievous and would not heed the caution.

Other abuses of social media include name calling and use of abusive words and title for political leaders, politician among fans when discussing or commenting on political posts. This research thus examines social media as tool for political mobilisation with the view to know the extent which students participate in political activities especially using social media and the extent which they share political messages in the past and in the future elections as electronic campaigns are now invoking.

1.3 Research questions
i. To examine the level of social medial usage in the 2018 governorship election among students in Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.
ii. To ascertain the extent in which social media usage has enhanced the level of awareness, education and political mobilization of electorate in the 2018 election.

1.4 Research Questions
i. What is the level of social medial usage in the 2018 governorship election among students in Osun State Polytechnic, Iree?
ii. To what extent has social media usage enhanced the level of awareness, education and political mobilization of electorate in Nigeria politics?

1.5 Significance of the Study
This research which is relatively new to the field of mass communication, although some scholars have writing on the role of mass media in mobilizing people for political participation and enlightenment yet only few of them ever written on social media in political participation in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Therefore, being a new aspect, the work will benefit individuals, corporate bodies, government, researchers, students, media professionals, political parties, political aspirants, politicians, INEC, Security \operative among others.

Individuals/electorate will benefit from this study as they will know the extent at which they can post or share information online particularly how to verify information before it is like, comment, repost, share, retweet, follow among etc.

Corporate bodies such as Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, CDHR and other advocacy bodies will through the research know how best to utilize social media and other information technology to mobilize people on political matters such as winning mobilizing people for the use of Card Reader during Poll e.t.c

Government through its agencies is expected to see social media as one of the targeted media of dissemination of information to be used in disseminating socio-political economic information to the public. The National Assembly should as a matter of urgency pass a bill as is been sponsored by the INEC to prevent people from announcing part or all election results without prior announcement from INEC due to abuse of the media by so many citizens in the last general election.

Future researchers who many what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this materials very useful and serve as reference material.

1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which examines social media as emerging tool for political mobilization” has been narrowed in scope to the students of Osun State Polytechnic Iree due to the proximity and time. Hence, the demography of the respondents will be examined before the preparation and administration of research instrument (questionnaire) to the selected respondents.

1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
To effectively do justice to this research project, there is need to explain some of the key words:
Social Media: A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the interaction, creation and posting of political messages and other information.
Electoral education: It refers to the process of sensitizing and enlightens the public on electoral matters such as how to vote, how to use Card reader, importance of PVC among others.
Political Aspiration: This is the use of social media to enhance political desire, interest and participation in the 2018 general election.
Governorship election: It is the election to elect or vote for the governor which takes place every four years in Nigeria.


“SOCIAL MEDIA AS TOOLS FOR POLITICAL MOBILIZATION IN NIGERIA”


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