THE IMPACT OF MOBILE TELEPHONE ON POLITICAL MOBILIZATION IN NIGERIA
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The introduction of the Global System of Mobile telecommunication (GSM) by Nigeria in 2001 created a new vistas of communication on an unprecedented level. About twelve years now from the entry of this new channel of mass communication into Nigeria, we are set in this study to discuss it impacts on political mobilization. There is no doubting the fact that mobile phone with several social media platforms such as the use of internet for social networking, blogging, video-sharing (YouTube), tweeting, and photo-sharing (Instagram) has greatly enhanced human communication in the 21st century. Considering the participatory, interactive and cost-effective nature of the new media, they have become veritable instruments for the deepening of democratic ideals and processes in terms of information sharing, monitoring and evaluation of electioneering processes, reduction of tension and anxieties associated with elections, ensuring and even enforcing transparency and accountability to a large extent.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The introduction of Global System of Mobile telecommunication (GSM) in the first decade of the new millennium has little precedent in history. The fact remains that, no other technology has ever been in the hands of so many people in so many countries in such a short period of time (World Bank 2008). Although the ‘hype’ has brought with it some exaggeration, it is also true that nowadays more people probably have access to a mobile device than to justice or legal services (UNDP 2008). In fact, whereas four billion people in the world have no access to justice and legal services (UNDP 2008), there are 5.4 billion mobile subscriptions. And according to a report published by the United Nations University in 2010, more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and good sanitation (UNU-IWEH 2010).
Today, democracy is no doubt the most preferred form of government the world over. One of its cardinal principles is the participation of the people by making a choice on who governs them (Elaigwu, 2014). Hence, it is germane that a functioning democracy requires an informed and active public that understands how to voice its interests, act collectively, and hold government officials accountable (National Democratic Institute, 2011, p.18). Grigsby (2011) notes that democracy presupposes certain participatory, pluralist, developmental, protection, and performance elements. Its representative features are such in which citizens indirectly impact political decisions by electing and influencing the behavior of representatives who actually make public policy and control implementation (Mezey, 2008, p.2).
It is a truism that today’s mobile phone plays an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy. Discussion of the mobile phone’s functions usually focuses on their “watchdog” role: by unfettered scrutiny and discussion of the successes and failures of governments, the mobile phone can inform the public of how effectively its representatives have performed and help to hold them to account. The mass media generally performed broad social functions to the audience and these functions are entertainment, information and education. Therefore, the mobile phones plays the same function, in terms of providing messages to its users while it is entertaining them thereby reminding its targeted audience (public).
The quality of governance has been improved over the years as a result of many factors; among which is revolutions in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) like mobile telephones. 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 mobile android Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Internet, thus deepening the democratic process (Diamond, 2010). The power of these platforms as viable mechanisms for political mobilization was first noticed in advanced democracies in the mid-90s (Tedesco, 2004). Ever since, events and processes have further highlighted their utility to democratic politics, most notably, to the electoral process. This was underscored by the extensive use of the social media by Barack Obama in the build up to the 2008 United States of America presidential election. This, perhaps, marked the beginning of e-electioneering (Vaccari, 2010). So profound was the impact of the smart phones and Internet to Obama‘s electoral success that Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, declared that were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president (Campantey, Durante and Sobbrio, 2013, p.1). Instructively, by using interactive Web 2.0 tools, Mr. Obama‘s campaign changed the way politicians organize supporters, advertise to voters, defend against attacks and communicate with constituents‖ (Miller, 2008). Stakeholders in several other democracies have since harnessed the utility of ICTs platforms in their electoral process, and Nigeria, despite structural challenges, is not exempted. The social media was first used in a remarkable way in the 2011 elections (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, 2012), especially by President Goodluck Jonathan, who used his Facebook account to garner country-wide support. Ever since, stakeholder’s use of ICTs platforms for election-related activity has risen (Shehu Musa Yar‘Adua Foundation, 2012). Against this background, this paper interrogates the use of ICTs platforms by stakeholders in the 2015 elections in Nigeria, with focus on the presidential election. The paper also assesses the impacts of these platforms on the credibility and the general conduct of the election, with a projection into how ICT platforms can be better deployed for future elections.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The use of social media such as mobile Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs and other social media tools as a new means to disseminate messages and engage the audience in participatory communication has created a new dimension in social mobilization making it easier to organize and disseminate ideas. It is instructive to point out that despite its various strengths as an interactive media, different schools of thought have argued against the credibility of most of the contents. Available statics demonstrate that the prevalent and most subscribed social media in Nigeria are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in that order. Given this development this study examines the contributions of mobile phones by civil society and government as a tool to promote political campaigns trends in the society. The objective is to add to the growing body of theoretical knowledge of ICT and examine the theoretical framework supporting the use of mobile phones networking apparatus for political mobilization and development. The end point of this study is to discover how social media can be used as a tool for social mobilization in Nigeria, thereby providing new possibilities to the problem of ineffective and aborted social campaigns and development efforts. Specifically this discourse has three fold objectives to; 1. Provide a definition of diverse range of social media in Nigeria context. 2. Discuss the use of different social media networking, in Nigeria political process using the Anambra State gubernatorial election as a case in point. 3. Present a discussion of current challenges, opportunities and potential future directions related to the use of social media as a tool for social mobilization for development. In order to put this in proper context the researcher intend to examine the impact of mobile telephone on political mobilization in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objective of this study will focus on the credibility of the mobile telephone in the dissemination of political news and socio-political tool for mobilizing the public for general elections in Nigeria. Among other is a list of objectives that will be covered by the research work:
- To evaluate the effectiveness of the mobile telephone in mobilizing public for election in Nigeria.
- To assess the level of message and information from the mobile telephone to the audience in mobilizing them for general elections.
- To ascertain the extent to which citizens in the State are exposed to the use of mobile telephone in political campaigns.
- To examine whether their political knowledge has increased as a result of their exposure to the information and communication technology (ICT) in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions shall guide the study;
- Have you ever been geared up for an election as a result of the mobile telephone?
- Has the mobile telephone been used to mobilize people to turn up for campaigns in your region during election period?
- To what extent has the general public participation in political activities increased as a result of their exposure to the using smart phones?
- Is there any significant different in the level of mobilization in the era of no phone and in the era of phone usage during election?
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there is no effectiveness of mobile telephone in political mobilization to the general public
H1: there is an effectiveness of mobile telephone in political mobilization to the general public
H02: there is no significant relationship between effectiveness of mobile telephone in political mobilization and the Nigerian citizens.
H2: there is a significant relationship between effectiveness of mobile telephone in political mobilization and the Nigerian citizens.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is expected that at the completion of this study, it findings will be beneficial to the general public as it concerns the usage of mobile telephone in political mobilization. The study will help the government in making policy for information and communication technology use in a political campaigns and elections in Nigeria. The findings of this study will also serve as a reference material to scholars who intend to embark on a project of this nature in future. Finally, the study will also contribute to our political and socio-cultural development through an empirical linkage of credibility and sycophancy in Nigerian’s environment. It will again enlighten our mind on the use of mobile telephone for socio-cultural integration of the public through fair political new management in the social media.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study covers effectiveness of mobile telephone in political mobilization in Nigeria. In the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some limitations which limited the scope of the study;
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also another hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to long hands in several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
1.8 Definition of Key Terms
Impact: is defined as the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.
Mobile telephone: A mobile phone is a portable telephone that can make and receive calls over a radio frequency link while the user is moving within a telephone service area. The radio frequency link establishes a connection to the switching systems of a mobile phone operator, which provides access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Modern mobile telephone services use a cellular network architecture, and, therefore, mobile telephones are often also called cellular telephones or cell phones.
Political mobilization: Political mobilization is defined as the actors’ attempt to influence the existing distribution of power. A directional variable is introduced in order to define more precisely the type of relationship which develops between individuals and parties.
1.8 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY
This research work is presented in five (5) chapters in accordance with the standard presentation of research work. Chapter one contains the introduction which include; background of the study, statement of the problem, aim and objectives of study, research questions, significance of study, scope of study and overview of the study. Chapter two deals with review of related literature. Chapter three dwelt on research methodology which include; brief description of the study area, research design, sources of data, population of the study, sample size and sampling technique, instrument of data collection, validity of instrument, reliability of instrument and method of data presentation and analysis. Chapter four consists of data presentation and analysis while chapter five is the summary of findings, recommendations and conclusion.
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