Social Media And Voting Pattern Of Youth In Presidential Election
This study titled “social media and voting pattern of youth in presidential election.” was undertaken after the 2019 Nigerian general elections held in March 2019. The objectives of the study were to determine the impact of social media on youths’ political participation in the 2019 Nigeria general elections, with undergraduates of the University of Ilorin as case study; to examine the perceptions of Nigerian youths about Nigerian politician’s image on social media; to examine the believability level of political news Nigerian youths read on social media and to determine the level of credibility Nigerian youths attach to political messages on social media. The study was guided by the agenda-setting theory. The research methodology adopted was the survey method with questionnaires as the data collection instrument. Findings from the study revealed that social media did have a positive influence on youths’ participation in the political and electoral process, especially the 2019 Nigeria general elections. Social media influenced youths’ choice of political candidate and party but, quite amazingly, did not actually guarantee that youths voted for any political candidate just because he or she has a social media account. Youths also regard social media as a credible medium for political discourses and majority also testified to the social media as making them become more politically active. This does not come as a surprise if one considers how often and how much time youths spend on social media daily.
Table of Content
- 1.1 Background of the study
- 1.2 Statement of the problem
- 1.3 Objective of the study
- 1.4 Research questions
- 1.5 Significance of the study
- 1.6 Scope of the study
- 1.7 Limitation of the study
- 1.8 Definition of terms
- 1.9 Organizations of the study
Review of Literature
- 2.1 Conceptual Framework
- 2.2 Theoretical Framework
- 2.3 Empirical Review
- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Population of the study
- 3.3 Sample size determination
- 3.4 Sample size selection technique and procedure
- 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
- 3.6 Method of data collection
- 3.7 Method of data analysis
- 3.8 Validity of the study
- 3.9 Reliability of the study
- 3.10 Ethical consideration
Data Presentation and Analysis
- 4.1 Data Presentation
- 4.2 Analysis of Data
- 4.3 Answering Research Questions
- 4.4 Interpretation of Result
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendation
1.1 Background to the Study
Before the turn of the millennium, the world majorly relied on the mainstream media for information. Dissemination of news was not instantaneous as it is now because some of the technologies available now were missing then. Correspondents had to travel several miles to and fro news beats in order to relay information making some news stories to be published weeks or months after their occurrence. Gone are the days when you write a letter to your friend living abroad and he receives it in possibly three months and you also have to wait as long as that to get his reply.
However, the revolution in the technological industry that started with the launching of the Internet in the mid-1990s paved way for social media and micro-blogging sites since the 2000s. The social media and by extension the internet, allows for instantaneous dissemination of news. Sending and receiving information can no longer be limited by space and time, a huge break in the communication barrier that has stood since the beginning of space and time.
According to Ayankoya, Calitz and Cullen, (2015), the social media concept involves the use of internet based applications and services for communication, collaboration, creation and exchange of contents by individuals and groups. The main focus of social media is the communication that takes place, how the communication takes place and the relationships that develop based on these communications. Social media allows individuals and groups to develop, maintain and stay connected to a network of other individuals and people with common interests (Ayankoya et al., 2015).
Statistics show that 2.38 billion people visit Facebook monthly (zephoria.com, 2019). Further studies have shown that Facebook users spend 33% of their online time on Facebook and that generally individuals spend about 25% of their online time on the different social media platforms that are available. Social media is thus a very important platform for businesses and organizations to utilize in order to reach their target audiences (Ayankoya et al., 2015).
According to Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (2012, cited in Adedeji, 2015), the 2011 elections in Nigeria witnessed a remarkable use of the social media as a tool for political communicaton. It was used for campaigns via personal websites, blogs, all social media applications, and several other media. Aside from this, the social media was equally used as a weapon to undermine and even destroy the image of other political parties, especially the People’s Democratic Party and All Progressives Party.
In the 2015 general election, the social media became a more potent tool and even a more lethal weapon. There are releases in the form of videos, voice notes, headlines, and broadcasts that made and mar many political parties and individuals. For example, a publication on Senator Buruji Kashamu almost marred his political ambition and eventually his swearing in. A hate video was broadcasted on both General Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Bola Tinubu. Ordinarily, these videos might have ended the political ambitions of these individuals in some other places (Adedeji, 2015).
2015 also witnessed a massive use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs in the general elections in Nigeria. Due to their participatory, interactive and cost-effective nature, social media has become veritable and significant instruments for political campaign planners in carrying out election campaigns and other electioneering activities, political engagement and mobilization among others. Thus, the place of social media in rallying political support is no longer in doubt (Chinedu-Okeke, Chinonye & Obi, 2016).
Youth, as a concept varies from culture to culture and from society to society. In most societies in Nigeria, the progression from childhood to youth involves some systematic rites of passage. These rites have symbolic significance in that, simply by participating in them, an individual achieves a new status and position. Such new status gains validity through genuine community action and recognition. One thing is clear, the boundaries defining the transition from childhood to youth and from youth to adulthood are shifting, and the crossover into each new stage is now manifested in different ways. The changes that young people must negotiate do not occur as predictably as in the past, therefore, defining youth globally according to some exact age range can be a very difficult task. The age range 15‐24 is often used by the United Nations and others for statistical purposes, but in many cases this distinction is too narrow for countries like Nigeria. Apart from the statistical definition of the term “youth”, the meaning of the term “youth” have continued to change in response to fluctuating political, economic and socio‐cultural circumstances. In many countries in Africa, for example, the male transition to adulthood, in terms of achieving the economic and social stability that comes with steady employment, may extend into late twenties and mid-thirties (Second National Youth Policy Document of Nigeria, 2009).
A lot of definitions have been made and various ideas have been put forward about “young” and “youth” so far. However, there is not an absolute consensus on these definitions and ideas. Yet, some definitions and ideas are of importance. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) defines youth as the period in which a person develops capabilities and social skills required to be ready for the financial gain and responsibility to be brought by the status of adulthood. Accordingly, youth can be deemed as a special period of life with unique social, economic, psychological, and political characteristics rather than a period limited to determined age boundaries (Melike, 2017). The Federal Republic of Nigeria however concludes on a youth to be any person between the ages of 15 and 29 (Third National Youth Policy Document, 2019).
Nigeria is currently ranked as the seventh most populous country in the world and the fastest growing nation. Nigeria’s population is currently put at 200, 950,000 with a median age of 17.9 years (worldometers.info, 2019). According to the Census, in 2006, Nigeria had 50 million people in the age group 15-34 years – which roughly covers the age bracket of 18-35 years that chronologically defined youth in the 2009 National Youth Policy; this youth population figure represented 35.6 percent of the Nigerian population at the time. By sex, age 15-34 years constituted 33.4 percent of males and 37.9 percent of females in Nigerian in 2006.
The 2012 National Baseline Youth Survey, undertaken by the National Bureau of Statistics in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, estimated the population of youths aged 15-35 years in Nigeria as 64.1 million, and youths aged 18-35 years as 52.2 million. Females constituted 51.6 percent of youths aged 15 -35 years and52.8 percent of youths aged 18 – 35 years. Lagos State had the highest percentage of youths (age 18-35 years) in Nigeria (6.3%) while Kwara State had the lowest (1.3%) in 2012 ( Third National Youth Policy Document, 2019).
Historically, youth turnouts in election have always been lower compared to other age groups, however the turnouts have decreased over the past few decades. A general explanation for this phenomenon is that young people are lazy, although today’s youth are volunteering in a larger extent than previous generations. Another explanation could be that youth do not feel like they are a part of the society. Owning your own property and having children are given a more direct interest in how hospitals as well as schools are administered and therefore generating more political interest (Erica, 2017). Recent evidence from European democracies shows that not only is youth electoral participation spiraling down at a much faster rate than with any other social group, but what is even more worrying – youth electoral engagementis also systematically unequal compared to the levels of participation among adults (Sirinic, 2017).
In 2015, when the then Independent National Electoral Commission (INE|C) Chairman, Prof. Atthahiru Jega, was declaring the results of the elections on live television, citizens at home and abroad not able to watch the live telecast could follow on live streams on various social media platforms, in fact the results were being posted by citizens on social media as they were being reeled out by the INEC Chairman.
And as another general has just been concluded in 2019, the social media was once again deployed by political parties and their candidates to great effects. Like in 2011 when the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, took to Facebook to declare his intention to run, the candidate of the PDP in this year’s election also officially declared his intention to run on Facebook. Candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party and even Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress maintained a very huge social media presence, proving once again that the power of the social media in any political process cannot be overlooked.
The focus of this study therefore is to examine the impact of the use of social media on the level of political participation of undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin. The study attempts to examine if the social media can be a veritable tool of social control like the traditional mass media.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Social media has served as a specialized platform of modern human communication and is now part of the political culture of most democratic nations across the globe, Nigeria inclusive. Usage of social media is one of the most dominant forms of communication between politicians and the electorate, and it is massively and strategically exploited by the politicians across the globe to achieve their targeted goals as regard projecting positive images, retaining offices, and maintaining relationships with their publics. Social media has been useful in aiding exchange of information between the political candidates and electorate; it helps citizens to be informed and influence their political choices, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour towards certain political candidates (Victor, Ikechukwu, Gerald & Chinedum, 2017).
Incidentally, in Nigeria, the everyday use of social media by politicians, and the manner in which the user-citizen interacts with the social network sites/pages of politicians has received rather less attention. Essentially, politicians expect the communication relationship to be positive and of benefit to them, thus, political gladiators of all shades of opinions, ideologies, intents and goals use the media with the belief that political communication through them might exert pressure or have an influence on people’s perception and behaviours. This conception of the effect of social media is akin to the historical and cultural dominance of print and electronic media and the perceived hypodermic needle effect of mass media messages. In view of the perceived impact of themedia whether from the ‘maximalists’ or ‘minimalists’ perspective, profit driven mentality of competition for political space has given rise to both ethical and unethical political communication using all available platforms of interpersonal and mass communication (Victor et al., 2017)
Apart from the traditional media, the social media is another medium through which the government and especially the presidential candidates reached out to mobilize youths in the 2019 general elections. This study is to examine the use of social media as a veritable mobilization tool for electioneering campaigns in general elections. The study will also examine the social media and voting pattern of youth in presidential election.
The foregoing notwithstanding, this study intends to investigate the effectiveness of the use of social media as a political platform in Nigeria and how the increasing advantages of social media can be harnessed and applied in making the electorate to possess their political sovereignty by transparently voting–in and voting–out political office holders and governments democratically without undue interference or hindrance (Chinedu- Okeke et al., 2016).
This research therefore aims to look at the impact of the social media as a tool used in convincing youths to participate in elections vis-à-vis whether or not social media is actually instrumental in projecting a positive image of political candidates.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objectives of this study are
- To determine the impact of the social media on youths voting pattern in the 2019 Nigeria general elections.
- To examine whether or not the social media influences the perception of youths on politicians’ image on social media.
- To examine whether one youths’ political activity on social media messages can affect other youths’ political thinking.
- To determine the level of credibility Nigerian youths attach to political messages on social media.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the impacts of social media on youth voting pattern in the 2019 Nigeria general elections?
- Do the social media influence the perception of youths on politicians’ image?
- What is the believability level of what youths read on social media?
- To what degree do youths regard social media messages as credible?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Firstly, the significance of this study will be found in the gap it fills by answering its research questions.
Secondly, the research will be of immense benefit to politicians, political parties, media consultants, electoral umpires and government across all levels as it will help them to know and appreciate the gains and efficacy of using social media tools and how best to handle it for projecting the image of their clients and increasing awareness of the political candidates.
The findings of this study will contribute to the sustainable development of democracy in Nigeria. The youth are the future and drivers of any country, therefore conducting researches/studies into their political, social behavior is of paramount importance (Adedeji, 2015).
Finally, this study will be of great benefit to researchers and other seekers of knowledge in the academia, as it will contribute to the existing literature on usefulness of social media in politics and also widen the current expansive knowledge in it.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study aims to examine the influence of the use of social media as a political/mobilization tool on the voting behaviour of Nigerian youths.
Only undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin from the ages of 15 years through 29 shall be polled.
This study will examine the political participation of the aforementioned youths for the 2019 general elections only.
This study will focus on undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, with the aim of determining how social media influence their perception of political candidates and their participation in elections. The undergraduate students of the University of Ilorin are students currently undergoing their first degrees in the 15 faculties the institution currently boasts.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
The researcher encountered problems during the course of carrying out this research; such problems were as a result of selected respondents who refused to accept and participate and also encountered difficulty in acquiring relevant materials and items. The attitude of selected subjects to fill the questionnaire to time so as not to delay the result of the research also posed a problem. However, the researcher appealed to the participants through persuasive means.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
1. Social Media:
Social media is the term often used to refer to new forms of media that involve interactive participation (Manning, 2014). They are internet-mediated technologies that allow people to connect with each other virtually. This study focuses on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram due to their high-level of popularity among University of Ilorin students.
2. Political Participation:
Political participation has been defined as “those activities by private citizens that are more or less directly aimed at influencing the selection of governmental personnel and/or the actions they take” (Enkman and Amna, 2012). This study looks at the level of political participation among University of Ilorin students.
3. Undergraduates of the University of Ilorin:
These are undergraduates of the University of Ilorin studying in various departments in the fifteen faculties in the institution.
According to the Third National Youth Policy Document of Nigeria (2019), youth refers to any Nigerian between the ages of 15 and 29.
1.9 Organizations of the Study
The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study.
The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study. While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study. The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings. The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
This study titled “The social media and voting pattern of youth in presidential election.” is aimed at exploring the impact of social media on the level of political participation of youths in the 2019 general elections among Nigerian youths with undergraduates of the University of Ilorin, Ilorin as case study. Survey research design was adopted using questionnaire for data gathering. Based on the data collected, analyzed and discussed, this chapter focuses on the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations from the study.
The study was undertaken after the 2019 Nigerian general elections held in March 2019. The objectives of the study were to determine the impact of social media on youths’ political participation in the 2019 Nigeria general elections, with undergraduates of the University of Ilorin as case study; to examine the perceptions of Nigerian youths about Nigerian politician’s image on social media; to examine the believability level of political news Nigerian youths read about on social media and to determine the level of credibility Nigerian youths attach to social media messages.
The study was guided by the agenda-setting theory. The research methodology adopted is primarily the survey method with questionnaires as the data collection instrument. Using the Krejcie and Morgan model for determining sample size, 400 undergraduates of the University of Ilorin between the ages of 15 and 29 were drawn as the sample to represent the entire population (44, 919).
Findings from the study revealed that social media did have a positive influence on youths participation in the political and electoral process, especially the 2019 Nigeria general elections. Social media influenced youths’ choice of political candidate and party but, quite amazingly, did not actually guarantee that youths voted for any political candidate just because he or she has a social media account. Youths also regard social media as a credible medium for political discourses and majority also testified to the social media has making them become more politically active. This does not come as a surprise if one considers how often and how much time youths spend on social media daily. The findings of the study are summarized below:
- University of Ilorin undergraduates, and by extension, Nigerian youths are very active on social media platforms which they use for many hours every day and WhatsApp is the social media platform mostly used by Nigerian youths.
- Social media had a positive influence on the youth participation in the 2019 electoral process as many youths became aware of political news on social media and also disseminated political news through them.
- A political candidate having a social media account did not guarantee that Nigerian youths voted for such candidate during the elections.
- Nigerian youths regard social media as a credible medium and believe political news they are exposed to through it.
The Federal Government of Nigeria should strengthen its efforts in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in every sector of the country. More and more Nigerian youths are gaining access to the internet every day and ensuring the information flow on the internet is uninterrupted is key to the information flow of the country.
The National Information and Technology Development Agency government should monitor what goes onto the social media as many people will believe what they read/see on it and the consequences wrong or misleading information can only better imagined.
Political parties, politicians, governmental agencies and ministries should create a robust and effective social media presence to inform and educate youths, especially on social media platforms which has a high concentration of Nigerian youths who believe political news on social media and regards them as credible. This will help reduce the low turnout of voters on election days and reduce the spread of fake news.
In future elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), should adopt the electronic voting system in order to allow youths who may not go out to vote physically do so online. 97.4% of respondents in this study claim to have an accessible device with 50.5% spending between 1-6 hours on social media daily while 35.4% spend above six hours daily.
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