1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The role of the social media in political mobilization and participation across the globe cannot be overemphasized. Of recent, the social media have been playing a leading role in mobilizing support for or against unpopular leadership. Recent happenings in the especially in Nigeria has clearly demonstrated the effects of the social media on political mobilization of the people to effectively checkmate leaders thus leading to their enthronement or dethronement. It is also on record that, the recent election that took the Nigeria by storm were hinged on the power of social media. Equally, the current deputy governor in the sokoto gubernatorial election effectively used the social media channels like the Facebook, Twitter, You-Tube etc to mobilize electorates particularly the youths to support their political aspirations.
According to Narnia, B. and Charl ,V. (2011:2) “the term social media refers to web-based tools and services that allow users to create, share, and search for content and information without having to log on to any specific portal site or portal destination”. These tools have become „social‟ in the sense that, they are created in ways that enable users to share and communicate with one another. Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues. According to Amaefule (2011:20) “The Facebook, which is one of the first social media tools was launched in 2004 and has over 664.03 million users in about 233 countries worldwide”. Since Facebook was launched, there has been massive interest from Africans such as Nigeria to use the medium for different purposes especially among the youths. This observation has been echoed by Narnia Bohler and Charl (2010:12) thus: Facebook is currently the most visited website by internet users on the African continent and currently 17 million people on the continent use Facebook. This may appear to be a small percentage, considering that the population of Africa which stands at over 1 billion, although it depicts an increase of 7 million from 2009. The rapid growth of social media activities especially over the last three years is indicative of its entry into mainstream culture, and its integration into the daily lives of many people especially the youths.
In the Nigerian political process, the use of social media became more pronounced in the 2019 General Elections especially among the youths. Most political aspirants in Nigeria including President Muhammad Buhari, Aminu Woziri Tambuwal, used Facebook, Twitter, Naija Pals, Nairaland among others to engage the peoples in discussing their political programmes and policies.
In Sokoto State, Facebook was the most dominant social media channels used by the two dominant political parties. The All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to send their campaign messages and interact with potential electorates during the electioneering period. On Facebook, groups like Neighbour 2 Neighbour (n2n), Alliance for Good Governance, Arewa‟ Initiative Group (ACG) among several others, were some of the most popular political groups found on the social media network during electioneering campaign in Nigeria. The influence of social media on people‟ mobilisation is also captured by World Youth Report (2005:13) thus: It is becoming increasingly apparent that through modern day media, ICTs and global interconnectedness have combined to influence the lives of young people, creating what is referred to as global media driven people culture. The above statement shows the rate and speed at which the social media have taken a firm grip on the people generally and will continue to influence their thinking pattern including political decisions. The relevance of the social media in our contemporary society is such that most leaders now maintain a Facebook, Twitter, 2go and Youtube account or even both to interact with the masses regularly. Today, President Muhammad Buhari and a most of other presidents are on the Facebook for constant interaction with their subjects.
However, it is not out of place for someone to ponder on the feelings, perception as well as reactions of the public over the new interactive strategy employed by many world leaders in reaching the general public especially the youths. Again it is observed by scholars like Durkheim, E. (1982:13) that, in many social change experiences, the peoples are mostly prone to reacting to change in two ways (i.e. acceptance or rejection) than other age categories of people. Therefore the introduction of social media in the political process is likely to be greeted by people’s reactions either positively or otherwise. The thrust of the paper therefore is an Assessment of the Utilisation of the Social Media on Political Mobilization of Nigeria’s Youths in the 2019 General Elections: A Case Study of Sokoto State.
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