Social Media Influencers as Veritable Tools For Political Mobilizations

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By Mukhtar Wakeel

Mukhtar Wakeel

Social media according to Wikipedia are designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use internet and web- based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many).

It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from from content consumers into content producers.

Social media are also considered as internet and technologically based platforms that enable one or group of people to create content, store and distribute such content and enable one to also rate, comment and aggregate such content in a socially interactive manner on a one to one or one to many bases with a view to sharing meaning and understanding.

Popular social media sites include Facebook, Myspace, Hi5, LinkedIn, Friendster, Multiply, Orkut, Kontain and You Tube.

The emergence of social media though laudable is not without its own challenges of falling short of the standards of the rule of law. In it, those who create content in the blogs sometimes do so without putting into consideration if such content violate one’s privacy, defamatory in nature or is capable of inciting the public against the government or the public themselves.

Since there are weak or no regulations governing the practice of the social media, comments on these media are sometimes appalling.and deceptive.

However, the social media serve as market where these ideas are traded. It offers one freedom to o make one’s stand known without hindrances.Through this means, Politicians can mobilize the electorates thereby deepening democracy.

Over the years, social media networks have emerged mainly as a tool for enhancing social interaction on line, but nowadays, it has proven to be more useful than it was originally thought of by people who were conversant with it. Just like the traditional media of Mass Communication, the social media offer advantages that politicians are making use of in the process of mobilizing the electorate of participation in governance, elections and campaign strategy for candidates.

Social media influencers are key actors in a democracy. social media influencers promote public policies, and their opinions mostly forecast the country’s digital transformation and democracy.

Without mincing words, social media influencers played a vital role as “key opinion leaders” to help communicate public policy in a connected society dominated by a digitally active middle class.

It is worthy of note that in 2011, former president Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed the patronage of social media to launch and intensify his presidential campaign slogan chronicling on his growth from a humble background, trekking to school barefooted and riding in the path of destiny to raise to the presidency, winning the hearts of Nigerians who are predominantly vulnerable to sympathize with him as one of them ” f I can make it, you can make it”.

President Goodluck Jonathan while justifying his reasons for opening a Facebook account opined that ”while many may not understand why I decided to open a Facebook account. The president is too busy to have time for Facebook many will say. For me, I would say I was motivated in no little way by President Barrack Obama of the United States. His novel use of social media network, especially Facebook starting from during his presidential campaign, has stimulated new thinking on participatory governance across the world. I have observed, with deep satisfaction, that this is a very important tool in bridging the gap between the state and the society as we strive to develop our democracy and make it more participatory.

Also, the immediate past president of the United States, Donald Trump enjoyed the patronage of social media in propagating the ideals of Republican and convincing Americans as to why they needed a change of baton from the Democrats to Republicans extolling the virtues of Donald Trump and the best choice for the United States owing to his international connection and being a business mogul.

President Joe Bidden having noticed the strength and weaknesses of Donald Trump, deployed the social media to hammer on the weaknesses and his u presidential utterances to pull him down making it impossible for Trump to get second term thereby bringing on board Joe Bidden.

To drive home our point, social media showcased President Muhammadu Buhari convincing Nigerians to have him as the only Messiah that could salvage the country on the slogan of ‘SAI MAI GASKIYA’. That spirit was maintained till he won the second term bid. Needless to mention that the role of social media during the #ENDSARS campaign and the on – going debate on the cyberspace on how best to tackle insecurity in Nigeria.

In Nasarawa State the two terms of former Governor Umaru Tanko Al- Makura was enhanced by effective utilization of social media influencers who mostly were appointed Special Assistants and Personal Assistants monitored and guided by a Command Centre to propagate the activities of the admission and to respond rapidly to any negative criticism via the social media.

On the exit of Al- Makura, the cyber foot soldiers did not vacate the cyberspace but rather became persistent in the campaign for the Engr. Abdullahi Sule as a worthy successor of Al- Makura.

It is worthy of note that Engr. Abdullahi Sule has his own style of governance even though not much departure from the past administration since the goals are the same it is a journey from SEEING IS BELIEVING to EXCEEDING ALL EXPECTATIONS.

The social media lieutenants are keeping the public abreast of the social transformation and economic engineering of the Nasarawa State.
It is important to note that in a democracy, information is power. Even though the state government makes judicious use of both the broadcast and the print media to avail the public with developments in the polity, social media is not left out in shaping opinion unsolicited but partly because of their love for the government as well as their love for other stakeholders who identify with them.

Almost all politicians worth their salts need the devices and support of social media influencers. Their appointed media aides can not be sufficient to handle their image laundering owing to the virile nature of information that drop on the cyberspace. The social media influencers can polish the activities of those they choose to work for and can also create a setback on aggrieved politicians.

It is important for social media influencers to know that the law that guarantees freedom of speech and the press affects them and the penalty for defamation, false information and intimidation also apply to them and ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Democracy and good governance thrive on the principles of participation and freedom to express one’s opinion without fear, intimidation or harassment. This will ensure progress and development of the people and society. The social media in this wise offer such a platform where various views in the society can be expressed and aggregated in a manner that will serve as constructive criticisms which will at the end of the day bring good governance.
Wakeel, a public affairs commentator, writes in from Lafia.