Technology is playing a huge role in Nigeria’s development in recent times. And in the 2019 elections, the role of technology is expected to be even greater.
On the one hand, the electoral process is already tech-driven. Thanks to innovations by INEC in the last election in 2015, technologies like the card reader has helped to reduce the level of voting fraud and general malpractice on election days.
However, the role of tech has gone beyond how the authorities use it. Technology is now playing a key role in influencing voting decisions and patterns in several ways.
From surveys and feedbacks, here are a few areas where technology will play a huge role in Nigeria’s elections this year.
Social Media Discussions
Since former President Goodluck Jonathan signed up for Facebook in 2010, social media has become a fiery place for political talk. Facebook for instance has grown immensely to become a sort of miniblog for all kinds of political issues. Twitter has also become an even more viral political environment.
On Twitter, issues and trends are discussed in real time. This has made the platform popular for party campaigns and other influencer messages.
My president, @Feladuroye doing it live on #predidentialdebate. But am really angry 😡 that we have not come to the light where our leaders will respect us by coming to debates, it’s high time to time we show that there is #ANN to change this money politics and use our PVC right pic.twitter.com/xIUsUhGiMO— Lawrence (@lawflot) January 19, 2019
Both platforms have grown so important in recent times that political contenders outside the PDP and APC rely on it to spread their reach. So-called third force candidates like Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye all relied heavily on social media to reach their primary audience.
In the elections to hold this Saturday and in March, both platforms will once again play huge roles in influencing the polls and generally keeping people in the election mood.
Splash/Lagelu fm Oyo State Gubernatorial Debate holds today by 12 noon. #ibadan #debate pic.twitter.com/4LMUEKbrer— IbadanUpdate (@ibadan_update) February 12, 2019
For one thing, pictures and videos from various campaign rallies have largely split opinions about who has more supporters. Even live debates and policy discussions have found their way onto these platforms. People got to see in real time who party candidates are and how they think.
But on election day, social media will go beyond hosting debates, it will provide real time updates about who’s leading at what poll and what problems are unfolding at any location.
Fact Checking and Fake News
Over the last three years, fake news has been a global problem. But it’s particularly a problem for countries when elections are close. It happened in the US, France and with BREXIT.
Nigeria is no exception.
Unsure about the veracity of news shared with you? CrossCheck that News before you 'SHARE'!…— CrossCheckNigeria (@crosscheckNG) January 21, 2019
Verify it with @crosscheckNG
cc @segalink @ayosogunro @ChidiOdinkalu @bigmoNaija @A_Salkida @eggheader @Omojuwa @renoomokri @RinsolaAbiola @TWEETORACLE @SEBEBE28 @benmurraybruce pic.twitter.com/rvJ0b8V7lL
But this time around, drawing from the previous experiences, a few tech-aided fact checking operations now exist. From Facebook fact checkers, to the Nigerian-made Cross Check platform, tech is helping to limit the problem of fake news.
And their importance and accuracy will come to play immensely during this election. With online users known to make and share all kinds of permutations, there’s a high probability that fake results will spread online.
That’s why fact-checkers exist. Their job is to make sure this does not happen.
Online Political Ads and Marketing
Online advertising especially on social media will be a huge player in influencing what people say and who they vote for. We already know how expansive political ads have been so far.
However, online advertising goes beyond direct ads slot because today influencer marketing is a huge ad medium. And in this election, influencer marketing is going to be huge!
#NextLevel #NigeriaDecides2019 #VoteNotFight #VoteBuhari #NextLevelNigeria#LetYourPVCSpeakForYou#NigeriaDecides— Káyọ̀dé Ògúndámisí 🇳🇬 (@ogundamisi) February 12, 2019
Compatriots voting @MBuhari @ProfOsinbajo
Note the following steps for Saturday 16th feBuhari 2019.
Be calm! Don't be provoked! Look out for ALL!
Like regular influencer marketing, political influencers control large online following and may or may not be collecting money to promote some party candidates.
Everything about PDP and their candidate is a scam. They destroyed the economy, their corruption destroyed Nigeria Airways, they set us Air Nigeria but the same corruption destroyed it. It took Buhari-Osinbajo to start clearing the mess the PDP created by paying pensioners.— The Godfather JP (@AyoOyalowo) February 12, 2019
Yet, thanks to their network effect, influencers will be able to sway followers more easily and far cheaper than regular political ads can.
Aided by the power of social media, these influencers will be key in Nigeria’s elections this year.
Polls are a very popular way to gauge people’s opinion on any matter. Online polls are relatively new in Nigeria but one might not realise it because they have quickly grown in popularity. Unlike many countries, Nigeria does not have a recognised body that provides poll ratings.
conducted an online polls recently in order to find out the biggest concern of most Nigerians about the future of this Country. Well, the results are out and it clearly indicates that the high level of both un-employment and under-employment is the #1 concern.— Dolapo Ashiru (@DolapoAshiru1) February 7, 2019
Nevertheless, several polls have been conducted on the Nigerian internet so far. These polls have helped to provide more context and talking points ahead of Nigeria’s elections.
Dear @inecnigeria, let me remind you that Atiku defeated Buhari on every sincere and independent online polls, every common Nigerian on the streets talks of voting Atiku. We don't want to hear anything that will not reflect the sincere yearnings of Nigerians come Saturday.Pls— Okey Ugwu (@OkeyUgwu01) February 12, 2019
Due to the detached nature of the Nigerian political system, political apathy and inadequate representation of the voting population on social media, online polls are nowhere close to what ideal election results will look like. However, they help to build context and provide online users with discussion topics and trends.
And in Nigeria’s general elections scheduled for February and March, online polls will provide a lot of talking points.
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