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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In essence, political communication also has to do with how media report power struggle, their biases and impartial coverage in ensuring sound political process. But the most crucial aspect of it is the analysis of speeches by politicians and those that are trying to influence the political opinion through formal and informal conversations among members of the public. In our context here in Nigeria, political opinion is influenced through both formal and informal ways. Political actors use the mass media to display their political shenanigans and up the ante of political rivalry between one another which the public are at the receiving end (Omodia, 2014).
The development of political parties in Nigeria dates back to the days of the struggle for political independence in 1920’s. In the pre-independence and the early post-independence periods, political parties in Nigeria were not ideologically based. Rather, they were regionally based and woven around individual politicians who they saw as their mentors (Aleyomi, 2013:283). In first republic, however parties were registered based on the exigencies of the time. This was the scenario until 1998; when the need arose for parties that could usher Nigeria into a new era of democracy after over thirty years of military rule (1966-1979, 1983-1998). Historically, political parties in Nigeria have developed and still play a vital role towards the realization of the democratic objectives. By and large, the restoration of democratic government in 1999 led to a new approach to party politics in Nigeria. The procedure for registering political parties was liberalized, thereby, opening up the political space for mass participation in political activities in the country. Although, the 2011 general elections witnessed more than fifty registered political parties in Nigeria, even though only few of them have not been able to win any election (Chidi, 2015).
However, just over 25 registered political parties existed before 2015 general elections. The few political parties that have dominated the political space to the point that fears are being expressed that the country was drifting towards a one-party state. Opposition parties are beginning to cross to the ruling party both at the federal and states levels (Omodia, 2014:65). As Nigeria consolidate its democratic framework and mechanisms, the multi-parties in Nigeria, need to exemplify a new level of commitment to the yearnings and aspirations of the people for more fundamental and sustainable development (Nwammuo and Asemah, 2013:52). The recently 2011 general election in Nigeria really had some sets backs i.e. rigging, snatching of ballot boxes, post elections violence and it really brought the world attention towards Nigeria’s political system.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the global acknowledgement of social media as an instrument of social, political and economic cohesion, it nearly threatened the progress of Nigeria’s nascent democracy. Experts decried the wrong application of messages in social media platforms among users before, during and after 2015 presidential election in Nigeria. Udensi in 2015 reports how Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election campaign turned the use of social media in information dissemination to a dangerous weapon; many feared that the outcome of the elections could make or mar Nigerian nascent democracy if not well addressed. The two leading political parties and their supporters took advantage of the social media to not only sensitize the populace on their manifestos, but also turn 2015 presidential election into bizarre of inflammatory speeches complemented with propaganda capable of disrupting the electoral processes and Nigeria’s nascent democracy. No wonder, Orji (2014) predicts social media as having the possibility of being misused greatly in 2015 presidential election; because the crowd- source technique used by many social media bloggers are from local communities who are sometimes with partisan interests and biases. Similarly, Ekinne (2010) reiterates that the platforms are used to give false information, abuse, and incite violence, thus, social media advantage in promotion of Nigeria democracy became more confusing to assess.
The political communication in Nigerian media during election was really troubling in 2011 and 2015 because the contents were basically combative, violent-orientated and devoid of issue-based discussion that would have direct bearing on the unity and healthy political life of this country. The political narratives and bantering between and among the political bigwigs in the country was so worrisome, especially as the country was heading towards general elections in first quarter of 2015. With deluge of threats to Nigeria’s corporate existence as a country and other underlying challenges associated with ethno-religious crises and of course the lingering, itching clog of insurgency, the power tussle between North and South vis-à-vis mundane PDP- APC political squabbles and many more are bearing more of a combative look than a political communication. Political communication like Pipa Norris of Kennedy School of Government (KSG) in Harvard University argues is an interactive process concerning the transmission of information among politicians, the news media and the public. The process operates down-wards from governing institutions towards citizens, horizontally in linkages among political actors, and also upwards from public opinion towards authorities.
Politicians and political parties also utilised the social media largely to engage with voters and constituents. Many candidates that contested the 2011 general elections had Facebook, Twitter, and/or Youtube accounts. The 2011 elections demonstrated the extent to which the social media has penetrated the urban populace in Nigeria. The benefits of the penetration of social media in Nigeria came to light during the 2011 elections. Nigerian citizens of all ages, 12 education levels and from different parts of the country used and were mobilised through the use of social media to participate in the 2011 general elections. It is observed by scholars like Durkheim (1982, p.13) that, in many social change experiences, the youths 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 especially the Facebook in the political process is likely to be greeted by youth’s reactions either positively or otherwise. It is against this background that the researcher seeks to determine the use of the Social media on Political Mobilisation of Nigerian Youths in the 2011 and 2015 General Elections
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study aimed to assess the political party and political communication in Nigeria a case of PDP 2011-2015.
The specific objectives of this study are:
1. To find out the role social media played in creating political awareness of Nigerian youths in the 2011 and 2015 general elections
- To determine the role of political parties in national development
- To examine political parties and campaign strategies
4. To find out how social media can be sustained to promote democratic participation in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Did social media increase the political awareness of Nigerian youths in the 2011 and 2015 general elections?
2. What is the role of political parties in national development?
3. What are the campaign strategies of political parties?
4. How can social media be sustained to promote democratic participation in Nigeria?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE/JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Moreover, the need to study works of political party and political communication is very important because it is an abstract exhibition intended to appeal to the interests and emotions of the people whom the disciplines of political science would call or designate as discipline in our contemporary society with the aim of effecting a total change because society also needs to know better the contribution of its various citizens. Therefore, this research work will benefit all members of society because it deals with events in contemporary Nigerian societies.
1.6. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
In this study, the library strategy is embraced for its suitability and convenience. This methodological methodology entails data collection from secondary sources such as serious works, treatises, and documented materials usually from the library, the internet, and the book stores for the purpose of interpreting the primary texts. This relates to the qualitative research methodology used mostly in the Humanities disciplines as a means of collecting a variety of empirical data on case studies, individual encounters or contemplation, life story, interviews, observation, historical narratives, visual texts, which describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in the life of an individual. For the purpose of the analysis of the data collected for the research work, the research entails the use of textual analysis as parameters for drawing conclusion on the research findings.
1.7. SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study focused on the assessment of political party and political communication in Nigeria a case of PDP 2011-2015. Also the study sets to determine the campaign strategies of political parties.
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