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1.1 Background of the Study
The general availability of the Internet has given individuals the opportunity to use online platforms as medium of communication, from email to Twitter and Instagram, which has led to interactions without the need for physical interaction (Picard & Robert, 2011). Thus, social media has become a vital part of public discourse and communication in the contemporary society (Chang, 2007). Furthermore, social media has caused major changes pertaining to the way people find groups of individuals with similar interests, the nature of information, the available news sources, or the possibility to require and share ideas (Stieglitz & Dang-Xuan, 2012). Social media presented us with another communication channel for various interest groups today.
The term social media can be defined as a range of tools and services that facilitate direct user interaction online. Social media are web based services which are otherwise called "social networking Sites" (Miller, 2016). Social media refers to a network of connections and communications among various gatherings or people (Kaplan, 2010). Stelzner (2016) defined social media as a platform that was centered on the concept of a read and write web, where the audience and users are past the passive viewing of web content and move on to actually contributing to the content. In simple terms, social media covers anything that makes use of the Internet to enable conversations and most often take the form of social networking sites, blogs, and Wikis (Celine, 2012). As such, Chaffey (2016) defined a social network site as an online service that permits users to create and modify a profile, either public or semi-private, accumulate a list of connections, as well as view the list of their connections and others utilizing the services.
Social media platforms include popular networking sites like the Instagram and Twitter as well as bookmaking sites like Reddit (Ashley, 2019). One of the most important outcomes of the increase in the social media use and development of social media technologies can be seen in the areas of politics.
The ability of social media to reach the mass audiences has attracted the attention of politicians and political activists (Dutta& Fraser, 2008). In many parts of the world, the usage of social media is considered as a strong vantage tool for politicians and political activists alike to succeed in their political campaigns (Kaplan &Haenlein, 2010). The political activist groups have benefitted from the use of social media because they find it hard to get through to audiences through mainstream media. However social media breaks that barrier by connecting politicians and political activists directly to their desired audiences (Martinez, 2012). With the use of social media for political issues, political activist have been able to pass their information to audiences. This has helped social media users to be more involved and also help them to understand politics better
In recent years, political activists have been able to use social media to create political awareness on social and political issues and mobilize demonstrations. One of such political activist campaigns was the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement that mobilized social media protests that took place in the last few years in Turkey (Katik, 2013). Similarly, the London youth demonstrations of 2011 against the high level of unemployment among young adults, the 2009 Iranian protests against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Egyptian social movements augmented by Twitter and Instagram, when President Mubarak shut down the Internet for five days are further examples of the use of social media to effectively spur political activist campaigns (Abdul, 2013).
Furthermore, the use of social media to spur political activism and political movements have not been limited to countries outside Nigeria as it has been used in Nigeria by political interest groups to create movements that resulted in significant changes. Social media platforms have been used for social movements such as #LightUpNigeria and #OccupyNigeria protests. Furthermore, Young Nigerians used social media to raise awareness on the gang rape of a young girl in Abia State University using #ABSURape (Agbedo, 2012). However, one of the most effective social campaigns in Nigeria was the #BringBackOurGirlsmovement which effectively adopted social media usage to organize and demand answers from the government regarding the whereabouts of missing girls from Chibok, Borno State. The campaign was so effective that it engaged various celebrities and important personalities in the world such as the former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. The campaign scored some sort of win when 82 of the girls were released due to successful negotiations by the Government with the Boko Haram Sect (Saratu, 2017). The latest political activist movement in Nigeria has been the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on social media.
The “Not too Young to Run” campaign on social media uses platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to effectively mobilize social support to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria. The campaign started in support of bills and motions in Nigeria's National Assembly sponsored by Tony Nwulu in the House of Representatives and AbdulAziz Nyako in the Senate (YIAGA, 2017). The global campaign symbolized by the hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun on Instagram and Twitter was aim at reducing the age of running for elective positions for House of Assembly and House of Representatives from 30 year old to 25 year old, Senate and Governorship from 35 year old to 30 year old and office of the president from 40 to 30 and independent candidature in Nigeria (Adebayo, 2018; Ismail, 2007). Furthermore, the campaign sought to reduce nomination form fees, a way to encourage youths involvement in politics (Bolashodun, 2017). The campaign was driven with the objective to increase youth participation in the 2019 electoral process. The campaign achieved its major goal when the Not Too Young Too Run bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 31st of may 2018 (Tukur, 2018).
However, it remains questionable whether the campaign was successful in achieving its main objective which is the participation of Youths in the electoral process in 2019. As a result, there is a need to investigate if the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Instagram & Twitter was effective in spurring youths’ participation in the 2019 electoral process in Nigeria. This study will aim to achieve this objective.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The use of social media has changed the landscape of mass communication in the world today. It has generated the emergence of an open social platform where all types of issues can be raised and discussed (Mensah & Nizam, 2016). As a result it has been an effective tool for political interest groups to mobilize support for political activist campaigns. Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Development (YIAGA) use the social media platforms in driving a change in policy ultimately aimed at encouraging youths participation in the electoral process in Nigeria by starting the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram. Achieving the aims and objectives of the campaign in mobilizing youths to participate in electoral processes will be determined by youths’ involvement in the 2019 electoral processes. However the forerunners for the current 2019 presidential elections for the two major political parties (APC and PDP) have an average of 73 years between the two candidates’ ages. This has led to questions concerning how significant the influence of the “Not too Young to Run” campaign is in ensuring significant youths participation in the electoral process. In addition, are also some signals indicating gradual and continuous engagement of Nigerian youth in politics online which is not playing out in real life politics. This indicates that while youths may be actively involved in political discounts, they may not be actively involved in the actual process. Although the bill has been passed, a major concern still remains whether or not the signing into law of the not too young to run bill will in any way encourage an active participation of Nigerian youths in politics.
Therefore, this research aims to determine the influence of the Not too Young to Run bill on Twitter and Instagram on youths’ participation in the 2019 electoral process.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of the study is to determine the influence of the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Instagram & Twitter on youths’ participation in the 2019 electoral process in Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
1. Determine the level of engagement of youths in the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram.
2. Establish the factors inhibiting Nigerian youths from participating actively in the electoral process
3. Assess if the Not Too Young to Run bill has influenced the Nigerian youths’ in being candidates at the forthcoming elections.
4. Examine the relationship between the activity of the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram and the level of youths participation in the 2019 electoral process.
1.4 Research Questions
The Research will aim to answer the following questions:
1. What is the level of engagement of youths in the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram?
2. What are the factors inhibiting Nigerian youths from participating actively in the electoral process?
3. To what extent has the Not Too Young to Run bill influenced the Nigerian youths’ in becoming candidates in the forthcoming elections?
4. What is the relationship between the activity of the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram and the level of youths participation in the 2019 electoral process?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of importance to several stakeholders including the government, Political parties and politicians, Political groups and Political Scientists and Researchers.
The research will be beneficial to the government because it will show how social media can be used effectively for a transparent and good governance. It will also lay bare the impact that social media can have on public opinion and how it can be used by them to further their courses for the good of the country.
The study will be beneficial to political parties and politicians as it will show them how social media platforms can be used to their advantage in producing desired election outcomes. It will also show the perception that voters have about the use of social media by politicians during elections.
The study will also be beneficial to mass communication professionals, political scientists and researchers because it will add to the body of knowledge on the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram and its influence on the participation of youths in the electoral process in 2019. There has hardly been any study on the influence of the “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram on the participation of youths in the electoral process in 2019, hence this study will aim to fill this gap.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is centered on the influence “Not too Young to Run” campaign on Twitter and Instagram and on the participation of youths in the electoral process in 2019. The survey research method will be adopted in this study the study will be limited to the youths of the Lagos mainland Local Government Area who are totaled at 326,700. In view of my research, the time frame that the study will be considering is between 2016 when the Not too Young to Run” campaign was conceived and 2019 when the elections takes place.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
“Not too Young to Run Campaign”: The “Not too Young to Run” campaign is a campaign run on social media platforms which is aimed at changing policies that limits youths participation in the electoral process in Nigeria. Measured by involvement in being electoral candidates increased awareness for participation, signing into the constitutional law the amendment of reducing age of Nigerians that can contest into public office
Youths political Participation: This is the level of participation of eligible youth voters between the ages of 18-32 in the electoral process in Nigeria. Would be measured with activities such as political campaign, voters registration, actual voting joining interest groups, being a political activist and among others.
Influence: This is the effect the not too Young to run campaign has on youth during the 2019 election. It would be measured by tracking and analyzing how far the campaign has gone within a specific time and area.
Electoral process: This includes all the activities that is done during towards the 2019 election. This would be measured by the amount of people registering to vote, amount of people involved in political discussions, amount of voters and also amount of people involved in campaign
Social media: This is the platform that allows users to share content also share their views and participate in the electoral process. The social media platforms that is being used in the research are Instagram and Twitter which would be measured by the engagement metrics like comments, retweets, replies, tweeting, hashtag
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