The run-up to the 2015 presidential election was indeed an interesting period. The struggle for PVC, the intrigues and campaigns that divided the nation into progressives versus transformationists (supporters of the status-quo), media coverage, the election postponement, the election proper, card reader woes, counting of votes and final announcement of results. Nigerians were really interested in the outcome of this election.
Just like recent American and British elections, Nigerian 2015 Presidential election was largely influenced by new media – the Internet and social media platforms & sites (Leuschner 2012, IET 2016). Nigeria’s improving tele-density accounts for an estimated 16 million Twitter/Facebook users so far (Internet World Stats 2016). Political discussions on these new media are so ubiquitous, little wonder Nigeria is better rated than the US and the UK in the use of social media for politics (Jackson 2016). Thus the viability and preference of the new media cannot be over-emphasized.
There are 40 registered parties, 14 of which participated in the 2015 presidential elections (INEC 2016). Indeed the election result concurs with earlier held elections to show our bi-partisanship Votes distribution was as usual skewed in favour of only 2 parties while the other 12 parties polled negligible votes. This should not necessarily be so. It is not a hopeless situation for the small fries, the new media is here to stay and it’s egalitarian platform guarantees success to any political party with a holistic combination of presentable candidates, appropriate manifesto and robust IT strategy.
Taking a cue from the just concluded 2016 American elections we learn that:
1. Any publicity is good publicity. Just be in the limelight. The news & social media unwittingly created more attention for Donald Trump. Even those that were obviously for the wrong reasons were skillfully maneuvered by the Trump camp.
2. There exists a grand distrust for career politicians by the electorate. Such was the story of the unpopular Trump who triumphed over Hillary because Americans were tired of liars, sorry I meant to say politicians. They just are the same, aren’t they? Always talking from all sides of their mouths; upholding today what they vehemently opposed yesterday.
What’s more, allegiances change. Nigerians are largely after good governance. The PDP was booted out for abysmal performance and so can the APC. Who says if KOWA or APGA have the right combinations that they can’t win the next presidential elections?
Now is the time for all to act. Let us make electioneering more interesting in Nigeria and by so doing, up the ante in the quality of elected officials irrespective of their party affiliations.