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Nigeria: the role of social media influencers on voters

A voter marks her ballot in a voting booth at a polling station in Abuja on February 25, 2023   -  
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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says as of December 2022, the number of active mobile subscribers in the country reached 222.571 million, while internet subscribers exceeded 154.8m. Another study by the Centre for Democracy and Development shows that the number of active social media users in Nigeria has risen from 27 million in 2019, to 36 million.

These social media users are part of electorates, politicians expect to get their votes from after campaigns ended 24 hours before the polls. Most of these online campaigns are spearheaded by social media influencers who have been paid.

But what impact will these influencers have on the electorates' choice?

‘They can influence people, they have millions of views, so I feel if they come online and talk to them genuinely, talk to their followers, they can convince them to vote for their right. Social media influencers can also influence people not to buy a product but also the betterment of this country’, says Nail Technician , Akhere Oghana.

While many argue that influencers' huge followers can help sway votes in their preferred candidates favour, others point out the likely backlash that follows the non performance of their candidates in office, explains content creator Moyosoreoluwa Eleso.  

‘Since 2015 it has come to light that social media is a very very important platform when it comes to this election process. And We have seen that in how followers of influencers tend to stand by them with the decisions they make and the people they put out their support for. So, yes indeed social media influencers have a huge role to play and one of the many things that influencers should begin to consider is to not sit on the fence. You it is okay to say this is the person I am supporting for this election but also bear in mind that decisions have consequences.’

The turnout for this election will be a key test to see whether the discontent of young Nigerians against the ruling class expressed frequently on social media will transcend into a change in the usual voting patterns.

However, social media influencers campaigning for candidates of their choice will hope that their followers toll the same line.

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