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The Rise of Social Media Warlords in Elections

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By Lugard Izoukumor

10 years ago, a President’s media aide magisterially labelled the army of cybercritics the “collective children of anger.” Indeed, for any right thinking Nigerian burning with patriotic fervour, there ought to be genuine reasons to be apprehensive about the widened rift of a visionary leadership as it relates to good governance in Nigeria.

By giving this a context, some pertinent questions suffice: What will be the role a media warlord in the 2023 poll? As a media warlord will he or she only be articulating views on brand promotion as PR spinners for political campaigns? Is he/she will be interrogating their candidates security plans?

How does he or she conveys their candidates strategies, his economic policies or ideas? Shouldn’t a media warlord consider contextual underpinnings to the victory of the successful Obama campaign for presidency?

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Barack Obama’s successful campaign for presidency was widely attributed to the use of social networking sites, mobile devices, and interactive websites to engage previously hard-to-reach populations in America’s political clime.

In short, Obama won the 2008 United States presidential election, by using social media and mobilizing the general public online, Obama was able to raise awareness and financial support of his campaign by using over 15 social networking sites, going by available statistics, online platforms were focal to his economic agenda; and his personality sketch; his security plan and education action.

Online social media and other digital technologies are increasingly being used for political purposes, emerging as a pivotal battleground to mould public opinion and set an agenda. In other words, given sufficient civil-society coordination, social media is an effective tool for electoral scrutiny and can help build public trust in an electoral process.

Electorate are expecting media warlords to provide them their candidates comprehensive strategies for tackling insecurity, economy, unemployment, etc; whilst, campaigning for them to allow the voters make informed decision on who to vote for on the basis of their acceptance of their candidate’s security strategies that will be implemented when elected.

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By doing this, it will assuage the voter’s concerns and give them hope for the future. Because achieving a true nationhood, and a united Nigeria that must entrench good governance literally points to a simple narration that there are a lot of work that is required from Nigerian media warlords on the part of state actors, especially in laying out policy ideas and ideological conviction their candidates or principals represent.

Hence, media warlords in the forthcoming electoral campaigns in Nigeria, must interrogate their candidates to present their plans to dealing with insecurity, economy, creating jobs and how to keep inflation within an optimal range.

Media warlords are indeed for public service just as the way traditional and online media are critically evaluating plans and strategies of candidates in educating the public to enable electorate know what each candidate has to offer in tackling insecurity.

So, I suggest media warlords should have an association where they must organise dialogues, fora, and debates focusing on security, where candidates would come forward with detailed, innovative, and practical ideas and solutions to the insecurity problems facing Nigeria, not just to spin their preferred candidates for traffic contents.

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The association of these media warlords in this digital age with respect to the forthcoming Nigerian elections must provide a level playing field and open fora for disseminating campaign information on how each candidate will revamp the economy: without prejudice toward any of the candidates based on political affiliations and ideological equanimity: Some media warlords are doing that already, but they do it through derogatory comments, fighting and name calling, which will continue to deepen the DATA BOY conversation whereby exacerbating the notion of the army of cybercritics who are the “collective children of anger.”

If the primary function of media, is to educate the public and help shape public opinion. I suggest that media warlords should devote the necessary attention to how their candidates can proffer policy ideas that will tackle unemployment and keep inflation within an optimal range.

I know that political discussions will always be volatile, especially in an election year. To express an opinion on social media is to be exposed and have some of the intense emotions ruling the times flung in one’s direction these days, no thanks to the immediacy and interactivity of social media; for some of these media warlords their candidates can no longer move their own arms in their own homes without these media warlords feeling compelled to share it as political expediency to semi-strangers online.

I conclude by saying for most people, visuals carry more powerful impact than words, especially of political candidates, convey emotions, actions, realism and credibility for a lasting impression in the mind of the voting public.

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Therefore, social media warlords must put in mechanisms for the 2023 election, which by all indications, is perhaps, going to be one of the most seriously contested in the country’s political history.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Daily Report Nigeria.

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