1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Social media played a notable role in both the 2011 general and the 2015 elections and as well as the latest 2019 general election in Nigeria. Facebook is the most popular and well known social networking service (SNS) in Nigeria. According to reports from NCC and InsightXplorer, 86.3% people reported using the Internet in the previous six months, and 79.1% reported using an SNS. 99.3% of the SNS users reported owning a Facebook account compared to only 45.7% of respondents reporting ownership of a Twitter account. Few legislative candidates use Twitter for political campaigns. For example, there is no candidate in the just concluded 2019 election with a Twitter account. While presidential candidate does have a Twitter account, the tweets are in English and so it is clearly aimed at overseas readers. In other words, whatever the merits of using Twitter data to predict elections in other countries, Twitter data is not very useful for the Nigerian case. However, unlike Twitter, general users’ Facebook accounts are private and hence not collectable. Opinion polls remain the most reliable method of predicting election results. However, while opinion polls are carried out for the Nigerians Presidential election, most single-member states lack reliable polls by mass media or research institutes, making it hard to predict results of individual states using traditional methods. A critical examination of the emerging trend in the use of social media generally in Nigeria shows that social media such as Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApps, Twitter, Blog, MySpace, YouTube and Instagram are no longer mainly social with the primary purpose of creating and enabling participation in social networking sites for people to socialize and check out what friends are doing (Olsson and Dahlgren, 2010; Bakardjieva, 2010), but, have rather, become powerful tools for political communication and engagement, and a useful means of policing election results in Nigeria and by extension, veritable tools for active political participation. In this instance, social media became not only “sites of information‟‟ providing many Nigerians with political voice but also “sites of action” (Signe Bock, 2015). This may probably account for why the recent use of social media in Nigerian elections as argued continues to demonstrate how social media have reshaped the structures and methods of contemporary political communication and engagement in the country. As such, social media in relation to Nigerian political environment is perceived as the: most accessible source of political information, deliberations and conversations; the major platform for media campaign; a key tool for monitoring and announcing election results; a new platform for political accountability; as well as the primary source of news – political. As the Reuters 2017 Digital News Report established, the citizens of many democracies now rely to a greater extent on online rather than broadcast and print news, with social media platforms playing a greater role in disseminating information than newspapers. In consideration of these views, it could be argued that social media now provide new ways for public’s political engagement and participation in the country. However, recent anecdotal evidence point to other emerging developments in ways the social media may have been used recently in Nigerian political election process especially the Nigerian Gubernatorial elections that have different dates from other general elections. For instance the just concluded Rivers State, South- South, Nigeria’s March, 2019, gubernatorial polls have been criticized for being characterized and associated with Internet brigandage, fake news, social media nuisance, and character vilification majorly on Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media platforms.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It has been widely observed that social media have enhanced the communication process used in creating and disseminating political messages in recent times in Nigeria. The 2011 general elections held in April, was characterized by an appreciable use of the new media especially the Facebook for political advertising and election campaigns. Following the same trend, President Goodluck Jonathan adopted the use of Facebook in his presidential election campaigns and actually became the first in Nigeria to adopt such strategy that has increasingly made an inroad into our electoral process and in the overall political environment (Ezebuenyi & Ejezieh, 2012). The foregoing notwithstanding, this study intends to investigate the effectiveness of the use of social media platform for prediction of election results in Nigeria and how the social media results were sourced and reported. The study will look at how social media data can help forecast the results of Nigeria’s elections on a state-by-state level even in the absence of reliable opinion polls?.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the Port Harcourt resident’s perception of social media report of 2019 election result. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant influence of the social media report on the 2019 election through the opinion polls and the broadcasting of the results, before the final release by INEC
H1: There is a significant influence of the social media report on the 2019 election through the opinion polls and the broadcasting of the results, before the final release by INEC.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of great significance to the following people and in the following ways.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on Port Harcourt resident’s perception of social media report of 2019 election result.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government.
Social Media: Is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration. Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media.
OTHER SIMILAR MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECTS AND MATERIALS