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An Appraisal of the Utilisation of Social Media for Political Communication in the 2011 Nigerian Presidential Election

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                                                                 CHAPTER ONE


1.1       Background to the Study

The global impact of new media technology on political communication cannot be stressed enough. Social media has become major force in political engagement, mobilization, and electioneering campaigns in recent years. nations in the continent of the world, both developed and developing. Since President Barrack Obama of the United States of America made effective use of social media, new media technologies have been used more frequently to facilitate political communication in the modern day. Obama’s campaign group used social media extensively, which inspired other international leaders and contributed significantly to his victory. In the 2011 presidential elections, for example, both President Goodluck Jonathan and other contenders used social media to further their campaigns. Political elections have always revolved around the cutting-edge tools that politicians might use to their advantage. Politicians can use emerging technologies to help spread their platforms as they grow (Emruli & Baca, 2011 p. 155).

The first real test of how political parties, candidates, and civil society organizations used social media was the general elections in Nigeria in 2011. The election was historic since it was the first time that Nigerian political communication and participation had ever been made easier by new media technologies such as Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, and other social networks (Dagona, Karick, & Abubakar, 2013, p. 2). As a result, the way political communication is done in the current day has changed due to new media technologies, and this has resulted in a big movement toward the use of these contemporary instruments in the electoral process.

This new paradigm change has put into question earlier approaches to political communication, where knowledge about elections was mostly obtained from newspapers, radio, and television, which also dominated political campaign coverage. But these days, social media has emerged as a key channel for political parties and candidates to communicate with voters and disseminate important information about their platforms, programs, and policies. Social media’s accessibility, ease of use, and speed have made it an instrument that is completely changing political communication on a worldwide scale. Based on this paradigm shift in the communication business, this study evaluated how social media was used in the 2011 presidential campaign.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria held its general election in 2011, giving voters the option to choose the president who would lead the state’s activities for the following four years.
Apart from the traditional media of communication such as radio, television, and newspapers, which were available to political candidates and major stakeholders in the electioneering process to communicate their messages to the electorate, social media were widely used during the elections to disseminate political messages. It is undeniable that new media technologies have developed into a crucial instrument for international political communication. The media is steadily evolving into a trustworthy instrument for influencing and altering public perceptions and behavior.
Nigerian politicians have embraced and used social media for political campaigning during the 2011 presidential elections, realizing the enormous benefits it provides for political communication. Facebook statistics (2010, p. 2) state that “a good portion of Nigerians, at least one million, seven hundred and fourteen, use social media, especially Facebook.” On the other hand, nothing is known about the influence and potential applications of this “new form of media” on political communication in Nigeria. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine how social media was used in the 2011 presidential election for political communication.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to examine the utilisation of social media for political
communication during the 2011 presidential election in Nigeria. the specific objectives are to:

i. Determine the influence of social media on the voting pattern of the
electorate during the 2011 presidential election.

ii. Assess the influence of social media on voter’s choice of political
candidates during the 2011 presidential election in Nigeria.

iii. Find out whether the popularity of the presidential candidates during the
2011 presidential election has any significant relationship with their use
of social media.

1.4 Research Questions
 the following questions were raised to guide the study:

1. To what extent did social media influence voting pattern of electorate
during the 2011 presidential election.

2. To what extent did social media influence voters’ choice of political
candidates during the 2011 presidential election
3. Was the popularity of presidential candidates during the 2011
presidential election influenced by their social media usage?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

the statement of hypotheses stated below will be tested in the course of the study:
Ho: Electorate voting pattern during the 2011 elections was not influenced by
their exposure to political messages on social media.

H1: Electorate voting pattern during the 2011 elections was influenced by
their exposure to political messages on social media.

H0: Voter’s choice of political candidates in the 2011 presidential election was
not influenced by political communication on social media. 

H2: Voter’s choice of political candidates in the 2011 presidential election was influenced by political communication on social media.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Given that it is still a relatively new area in Nigeria’s constantly evolving communication landscape, the study will add to our understanding of the topic. Since social media technologies have not previously been thoroughly investigated for political campaigns in Nigeria, it is intended that the study, in its practical usefulness, will inform politicians and political parties about the significance of social media in contemporary political communication. Additionally, the results of this study will help civil society organizations and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) create programs that encourage the use of new media technologies in Nigerian politics.Finally, the results of this study would be a useful starting point for more political communication research in the future. 


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