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AN EXAMINATIONOF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS IMPACT ON DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA

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AN EXAMINATIONOF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS IMPACT ON DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study 

The media and democracy can be likened to Siamese siblings due to their symbiotic relationship, whereby the state of the former influences the condition of the latter. In essence, the relationship is symbiotic: a robust press fosters a robust democracy (Oso, 2018; Voltmer, 2020 & Dahlgren 2023). Scholars and media professionals have additionally argued that the viability of democracy in heterogeneous and diverse communities such as Nigeria, where issues of diversity threaten the harmonious coexistence of the various people in the country, is largely dependent on the virile media. As a result, a deliberative democratic tradition can be quite useful in coordinating the participation of citizens with differing expectations and interests so that they can construct a consensus regarding the administration of a nation that benefits all, irrespective of their leanings or preferences (Olorunyomi, 2021). 

The influential media are instrumental in facilitating consensus formation in the Nigerian democratic system. Olorunyomi is an author. "From independence to the return of democracy following decades of military regimes to the formation of consensus following the civil war, the history of democracy in our country can be traced back to the vigorous advocacy of the media." The country’s mass media have been performing this very important function since the establishment of first newspaper, Iwe Irohin, by Rev. Henry Townsend in Abeokuta in the year 1859 (Santas &Ogoshi, 2019). The subsequent media outlets, which were established in response to missionary activities, were utilised to advance the nation's pursuit of self-governance and constitutional democracy. Early nationalists and newspaper titles that utilised the press to incite political unrest included the nation's first president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, an African aviator; Herbert Macaulay, an employee of the Lagos Daily News; and Chief Abiola, an employee of The National Concord. An additional newspaper is the Nigerian Pioneer, which was founded by Ajitoye Ajayi, and was founded by Chief Awolowo (Santas & Ogoshi, 2019). 

The recognition of the media as effective instruments for political manipulation and propaganda in Nigeria was not limited to nationalists; the colonial powers also utilised the press for similar objectives. Initially designed for missionary purposes, Iwe Irohin subsequently underwent a transformation into a tool employed for political propaganda and astute manipulation to secure power in Egbaland (Omu, 1974, as cited in Oso, 2018). 

Since the late 20th century, and especially since the start of the 21st century, developments in information and communication infrastructure have significantly transformed and facilitated the dissemination of messages on a societal and individual level. The development of software, the Internet, and computer revolutions have altered and challenged the conventional modes of operation of traditional media. In particular, social media presented novel opportunities and obstacles as a result of the transformations. In contrast to the meticulous curation and gatekeeping that characterises institutional mediation of media messages and discussions, social media platforms have adopted an entirely different approach. They enable users to interact with communities and individuals in a non-institutional manner, without the stringent gatekeeping that is typically observed in established media organisations. 

The media establishment is of the utmost importance in any democratic conversation or effort to democratise. Indeed, the media is frequently regarded as the "fourth estate" of a democracy, following the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches. Thus, throughout history, the media has been an indispensable component of democracy, regardless of location (Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia). The same is true for both developed and developing democracies. 

As previously mentioned, the proliferation and expansion of social media have been propelled by advancements in information and communication technology, which have had severe repercussions for traditional media and democracy. As a result, the opportunities, challenges, and transformations that social media has engendered have intensified and become ubiquitous in the realms of democracy and democratisation. Similar to how traditional media exploit the freedom of expression as a crucial element of democracy, social media platforms are also capitalising on the flexibility that freedom of expression grants to promote democratic ideals. Social media platforms, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, and TikTok, have emerged as critical conversational channels for democratic discourses among institutions, citizens, and actors in all democracies. 

Spinner (2022) provides a definition of social media as an electronic communication platform wherein individuals convene communities to exchange content, ideas, and information through mobile and web-based technologies. 

DPI (2022) defines social media as a collection of so-called "digital" media that both supplement and compete with traditional media, according to its submission. Typically informal and predominantly social in nature, these media are difficult to classify into particular categories due to the immense diversity of their content; even mundane activities may contain political insidious information. This, which is also referred to as "New Media," is essentially a collection of platforms comprising a vast domain of digital activity, such as YouTube, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Statement Of The Problem 

Due to numerous factors, including the 'hegemonic' nature of communication in Nigeria, citizens have had limited opportunities to participate in governance or have their opinions heard since the beginning of time. Nevertheless, the status quo seems to have been altered as a result of advancements in communication technology. The utilisation of social media platforms for information gathering and dissemination represents a significant paradigm shift in the evolution of media, as information now floods in from an astounding variety of sources and feedback is almost instantaneously amplified (Uji, 2022). According to Statista (2018), the number of social media users in Nigeria has increased from around 57 million in 2014 to around 84 million as of 2018. This represents approximately 50 percent of the country's estimated 180 million total population, and the digital divide is narrowing as smartphones with internet access become more affordable. Certain Nigerians, recognising the effectiveness of this platform, expeditiously improved and made extensive use of it as a means to promote democracy and good governance in the period preceding, during, and following elections. However, knowledge regarding the impact of social media on various facets of political life and its potential as a tool for promoting democracy and good governance remains limited. 

Existing research has examined how individuals utilise social media to promote democracy and good governance. As an illustration, the following studies investigated the ways in which politically engaged youths utilised social media to disseminate information and establish organisations: Segesten & Bossetta (2023) assessed the manner in which British citizens exploited Twitter to sway young people in the 2023 elections; Zaheer (2022) employed university students in Pakistan to investigate the correlation between social media usage and political engagement; Kamau (2019) investigated the function of so as to influence political engagement on Twitter. In their 2018 study, Pap, Ham, and Bilandžić examined the impact of social media usage on the political engagement of young individuals. This study aims to investigate the relationship between democratic governance in Nigeria and social media.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study is focused to examine social media and its impact on democratic governance in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:

1.4  Research Question

The study will be guided by the following questions;

1.5 Research Hypothesis

1.6  Significance of the Study

Given the volume of research affirming that media influences people’s decisions to engage in political activities, this study will provide information on the extent to which social media serves as a tool for democratic governance in Nigeria for elections. This study will also be useful to future scholars who can use its findings as reference material with respect to the promotion of youths interest in politics through social media. 

1.7  Scope of the study

The scope of the study borders on social media and its impact on democratic governance in Nigeria. Geographically, the study will be delimited Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos State.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researcher encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. More so, the researcher simultaneously engaged in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Social media: A group of internet-based applications that facilitate the creation and exchange of user-generated content, and they include numerous applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus, WhatsApp, and YouTube. 

Democratic Governance: It involves promoting the sustainability of democracy which includes an enduring capacity for: the separation of powers and independence of the branches of government; the exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law; the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and, the transparency and accountability of a responsible civil service, functioning at both the national and local levels.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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  • Methodology: Yes available


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