THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN NASSARAWA WARD “ONE” IN CHIKUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF KADUNA
The influence of the use of social media on people’s behaviour has recently become more visible than before. Stakeholders in several democracies have since harnessed the utility of social media in their electoral process. This study examined the effect of social media on voting behaviour in Nassarawa Ward “ONE” in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The study adopted voting behaviour theory as theoretical framework. This study also adopted both primary and secondary sources of data to explain the effect of social media on voting behaviour in Nassarawa Ward “ONE” in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It was discovered that most of the respondents in the study area used social media for election purpose and they received messages directly from elections political campaigns during election which influenced their attitudes in favourable ways. It also showed that social media have a significant potential to promote political participation and a potential to influence the turnout of voters as it is a major tool which enable citizens to talk about the issues of day to day life and also issue of national importance such as election.
1.1 Background to the Study
The prevalence of democracy as a political system of government among the countries of the world is indisputable. Democracy, over the years in history has come to replace other less popular systems of government like monarchy, theocracy, autocracy, military junta etc. Starting from the American Revolution of 1776, to the French Revolution of 1789, to the Russian Revolution of 1917, democracy swept across the world as the most preferred form of government.
Today, there are only a handful of countries practicing monarchical/theocratic system of government compared to the vast majority of countries practicing democracy. The popularity of democracy is undoubtedly attributable to its people oriented nature. As demonstrated by the French revolutionists, what the people wanted was encapsulated in their motto Liberté, EgalitéetFratenité (Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood). The French people wanted the freedom to choose their own leaders and their representatives. They sought a kind of government where everyone would be equal irrespective of their class or status in the society. Former President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, puts it aptly in his classic definition of democracy as “government of the people by the people and for the people”.
An online dictionary, the free dictionary.com, defines democracy as “government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives”. The process of choosing representatives by the people to represent/govern them is known as ‘election’ which is a sine qua non in any democratic setting. Elections are at the very heart of democracy, and are indeed thevery essence of democracy. However, prior to the election proper, political parties, politicians, party members and other stakeholders engage in an equally important process called “electioneering”. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines electioneering as “speeches and other activities that are intended to persuade people to vote for a particular person or political party”. It is popularly regarded as ‘campaigning’ in this part of the world.
An ‘election year’ is like no other year in any country practising democracy. Politicians and their respective political parties go to a great length to reach out to eligible citizens with persuasive messages in order to convince the electorates to vote for them. No stratum of the society is spared from the barrage of electioneering: market women, working class, traders, artisans, students, professional bodies, youths, etc. are all targeted in order to secure their votes.
The mass media is the tool of choice to reach the heterogeneous and widely dispersed electorates. Massive funds are usually earmarked by politicians and their parties for electioneering in the traditional mass media i.e. television, radio, newspapers and magazines. The popularity of the mass media is due to its wide reach/coverage. Nomadic herdsmen can be reached via their transistor radios, elites and literati can be reached via newspapers, women can be reached via magazines and town/city dwellers mostly via the television. However, a very important component of the electorates – the youth – seem to be increasingly ‘unreachable’ through the traditional media, as they seem to be making a shift away from the traditional media to internet based applications
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.