SOCIAL MEDIA ELECTIONEERING AND SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA A SWOT ANALYSIS OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS

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SOCIAL MEDIA ELECTIONEERING AND SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA A SWOT ANALYSIS OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The arrival of social media has greatly enhanced human communication. The new technology due to the participatory, interactive and cost-effective nature has barely made everyone who can use it a mass communicator. This brings to fruition the prediction of Marshal McLuhan in 1964 that the world would someday become a “global village” where what happens in one part of the world would be known instantly and simultaneously worldwide.

The emergence of social media is perhaps the most phenomenal among various platforms of communication made available by the advance in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The possibilities they have created in human communication and interaction are endless and beyond bounds. By just processing a button today, one can stay right in his bedroom and access information, entertainment, events and enjoy full interaction with the world. Writing on this development, Adibe and Odoemelam (2011) observe that the new media of communication have in no small measure helped the community to be aware of each other. Expounding in this, Baran (1998:63) writes that:

As the media shrink the world, people will become increasingly involved in one another’s lives, and as people come to know more about others who were hitherto separated from them by distance, they will form new beneficial relationships.

Baran’ s argument is relevant to this scholarly work as it draws attention to what social media is doing in the area of human communication, especially as it concerns the fostering of relations and interaction among people. Social media are interactive, web-based media. They belong to the new genre of media that focus on social networking, allowing users to express themselves, interact with friends, share personal information, as well as publish their own views on the internet. Nations (2010) refers to these media as social instruments of communication which are different from the conventional instrument like newspapers. According to him, “they are channels of communication made possible by social interactions often among heterogeneous persons”. These media he believes lay emphasis on dialogue or two-way-communication among senders and receivers. Kaplan Haenlein (2010) agrees with him that social media are media designed to disseminate information through social interaction, using web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues.

With democratic governance gaining high currency in Africa, especially with the turn of the 21st century and the dwindling fortune of other non-democratic systems after the end of the cold-war. Military rule, for example, has become an aberration condemned wherever it still holds away. Asian and African countries are struggling to come out of automatic rule while the Arab spring in the last one year has further endeared democracy as the most preferred system of government globally. In Nigeria, where we just experienced a smooth transition from a democratic administration to another democratic government is a sign that sustainable democracy have come to stay as efforts are continually made by all the stakeholders to put democracy in proper shape. In the last sixteen years, new democratic institutions are being set-up and nurtured, politicians are being groomed, political parties are being structured, coalitions and mergers are now visible insignia of our politics, governance ideological framework are being worked out. In these tasks of fanning the ambers of Nigerian democracy,political communication continues to play critical roles. The allusion that social media can foster free and fair elections and promote stable and sustainable democracy in the ethno-political-cum-religious crisis-ridden regions of Africa is no longer a utopian conception; but a provable fact. The empowering and unrelenting growth of Internet across Africa the use of social media in politics has continued to grow in Nigeria in recent time. Traditional media have been in the vanguard of political communication, mediating even the interpersonal model. With increasing knowledge of the computer and Internet, and invention of many devices in Information Communication Technology (ICT), politicians as well as the electorate embrace the use of blogs,websites and other social media platforms for communicating political issues. There is an increase in the use ofthe Internet in Nigeria. According the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Nigeria with a population of 178,516,904; a population change put at the rate of 2.8% with an internet penetration (% of population with internet) of 37.59% has been ranked 8 in the world As at July 2014 internet users have meteorically risen to 67,101,452, with user growth at 16% and growth of new users placed at 9,365,590, out of the 210,948,420 Internet users in Africa per ITU. The leading global networking site ‘Facebook’ has 14 million users in Nigeria as of January 15, 2015 out of 35,930,391 users in Africa which is 2.0% penetration rate of Nigerian population. Twitter boast of 1.8 Million users in Nigeria, while YouTube has 800,000 Nigerian accounts (Morah, 2011:57 cited in Morah, 2012: 153). The Social Media is not only empowering people but it is also democratising human relations.

SOCIAL MEDIA ELECTIONEERING AND SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA A SWOT ANALYSIS OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS

SOCIAL MEDIA ELECTIONEERING AND SUSTENANCE OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA A SWOT ANALYSIS OF 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS