Written by:

Oyawale Olabode.O

If you’re an avid user of social media, most especially Twitter and by chance you picked a special interest in the political space of TwitterNG, you will be familiar with this popular phrase “Politics is Local” which people use interchangeably to mean local popularity wins elections or most voters are not social media inclined so your online popularity may not count at the poll. Inec will not count your twitter vote, retweets, thread, tags, polls and the number of mentions you were able to generate for your candidate, they won’t count the number of words you typed and posted on your Facebook wall, the number of likes and comments you got, they won’t go on Instagram to harvest the number of celebrities that showed support for your candidate or the number of likes per post, they won’t count the number of WhatsApp BCs, Emails and reactions you get on any social media platform. All they will ever count as long as the election is concerned are the votes of those people that obtained their voter’s card and spoke at the poll with their cards.

This fact may not be totally wrong from a naturalist point of view and on the second thought, it might not necessarily be right because it does not represent the overall view of many who believe social media especially Twitter is a viable tool for a pre-election chain to influence the election proper. With so many influential Twitter users who have been sampling the opinion of many other users through Twitter polls on different political topics and survey on how many people actually own a personal voters card, it will be seen that we only tweet on Twitter while in the real world we don’t vote.

With millions of Twitter users divided across party lines, Religion, public sentiment and ethnic differences, one will want to believe that effective change can start on Twitter when we share the same political interest, while public governance can be re-inspired through the same channel. But the reality is that none of these can take place on Twitter as the vast majority of the Nigeria citizen can’t find their way around it due to the high rate of public illiteracy and digital divide between the Digital immigrant and digital natives. The 2019 general election will be different from that of 2014 because of reasons beyond the ambiance of social media.

If there will be a massive overhaul in our political space, we must first understand that media popularity is not enough to win you your own ward not to mention winning you a local government. We need to take the fight outside the media and influence people who are proportionally disconnected from the media. We can set the different trend for different candidates to boost their social media popularity but does the average garri seller in Ibadan or the fish seller in Abia and the onion seller in Kano know who you really are? Don’t let us posit Twitter winning to real world winning, we don’t vote on Twitter.

We all need to do more and encourage people to get their voters card and stop claiming conventional king in an environment where traditional method of voting is not outdated. Your favorite candidate with all his degree and social media hype can lose a local government election to a mechanic that is more popular with the people.

Twitter: BodeWrites

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