In the last decade, social media has become an integral part of elections around the world.
In 2014, ahead of the 2015 elections in Nigeria, the use of social media platforms was an incredible tool utilized by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to challenge the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda was loudest on the various platforms like Twitter, Facebook, with several tweets and post detailing the change agenda.
Some of the champions of that social media movement today sit in the corridors of power.
Today, the stake is even higher given the incredible growth in the number of Nigeria’s internet and social media users.
According to data from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), as at December 2014, total active Internet subscriptions in the country stood at 76, 76,494,696.
The latest figure from NCC shows that the total active Internet subscription population of Nigeria has jumped by over 90% to 141.9m (141,959,496).
Of this incredible numbers, it is reported by Statista that 43 million Nigerians have a profile on various social media networks, which is regarded as one of the largest for a single country in the world.
About 33 million (which is 15.8 per cent of Nigerians) are active social media users as of January 2021, the data company added.
How important is social media in elections
Studies have failed to show direct impact between social media and election results.
However, the incredible case of Mark Zuckerberg before the US Senate in relation to the US presidential election highlights how social media can serve as a powerful tool of political communication and ideology distribution.
For a candidate, the more followers, the more visibility and it is easier to reach millions of persons at a go, and get instant feedback.
But history has again showed that social media can be a very wrong tool to measure people’s sentiment towards a candidate.
For instance, Omoyele Sowore who will be going for a second shot at the presidency, has an incredible followership across social media platforms, especially Facebook(366,730), and twitter(747.9k).
In the 2019 presidential elections, Sowore’s total votes were 33,953, a long cry from the 28.1 million (28,614,190) votes counted by INEC.
Peter Obi’s social media, how loud is it?
Ahead of the 2023 elections, once again the social media gladiators have begun drumming support for their most preferred candidates.
In total, there are 16 political parties in the race led by APC; main opposition PDP; Labour Party, LP; and the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
Atiku Abubakar leads Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Bola Ahmed Tinubu, All Progressives Congress, APC; Peter Obi, Labour Party, LP; and Musa Kwankwaso, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.
Full list can be found in the table below.
According to data from google trends analysed by Ripples Nigeria, Peter Obi is one of the most searched and talked about candidate. No thanks to the I am OBIdient movement that has rented the social media space in support of the Labour Party presidential candidate.
However, analysis of the data shows the searches are coming from the southern states of the country which provides a vivid picture.
Ripples Nigeria had earlier reported that based on the National Bureau of Statistics latest figure, the number of internet subscribers in the South stands at 77 million while the Northern states has 68.5 million.
However, if the presidential elections is to be counted based on social media followers, Peter Obi will not be in the top three.
When it comes to social media presence, especially on Twitter, considered the fastest and reliable news source that every political figure or brand tries to exploit and increase its reach, Atiku Abubakar dominates.
StatiSense reports that as at the end of June, Atiku had 4.29 million followers on social media ahead of President Buhari’s 4.14 million followers.
Vice President Osinbajo comes third with 3.84 million, Dino Melaye(3.45m) and Bukola Saraki(2.88m).
Others in the list include Shehu Sani(2.62m) Goodluck Jonathan 1.95m, Ben Murray Bruce 1.85m, Jide Sanwolu(1.70m), Garba Shehu (1.42m) while Peter Obi completes the top 10 most followed politicians in Nigeria with 1.40m.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu has 1.2M, and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso trails with 202.3K followers.
Interesting facts from the numbers
It is important to note that Peter Obi’s media presence is growing rapidly and it added 357k new followers in June.
If Peter Obi is to stand a chance come 2023, he will need the support of at least 15 million real voters at the elections, how this will be achieved remains to be seen.
From the earlier reported google trend search, Peter’s Obi major interest is coming from the South with highest internet subscribers but not voters.
To win 2019 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari polled 55.6 per cent or 15,191,847 votes of the total votes cast, leaving his rival, Atiku Abubakar, with 41.22 per cent or 11,262,978 votes.
Kano State alone provided 1,964,751 votes at the 2019 elections. This was followed by Katsina State with 48.45 per cent (1,555,473).
Number of registered voters for 2023
According to the latest update released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the CVR exercise, 10.48 million new registrations have been recorded while 8.63 registrations have been completed as of June 27, 2022.
This means that about 9 million new eligible voters have been added to the country’s voters list which stood at 84 million in 2019.
From the latest data, the youths accounted for 70% of the completed registration in the ongoing CVR, as 6 million out of the 8.6 million new registrations were done by youths.
The top states for registered voters using last election numbers and newly registered are Lagos (6,942,051), Kano (5,838,329), Kaduna (4,239,441), Rivers (3,587,679), Katsina (3,444,064).
Others are Delta (3,242,174), Oyo (3,216,061), Benue (2,717,673), Bauchi (2,711,985), Anambra (2,651,152).
It is expected that numbers will increase in the coming months.
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