Politics defines the activities involved in acquiring power in a given country or area of the world. Moreover, it involves the activities relating to the governance of a country’s particular debate that entangles individuals and parties hoping to acquire power. In academic circles, politics refers to the study of a state and government. The crucial factor in successful politics is the active involvement of citizens in decision making. In Nigeria, the Internet has encouraged youth to participate more actively in politics through social media as a part of their everyday lives by linking them to the global mobile community and increasing their independence. The Internet has exposed the youth to the political reality that drives global governance offering a formidable base for making a comparison and contrasts.
Political participation is a new term that many political researchers and sociologists are investigating all over the world. Most countries have introduced the American democratic form of government. Therefore, the political system introduced various new concepts that were non-existent before such as individual liberties, human rights, free and fair elections and the right to vote and participate in electoral processes. Usually, elections take place after a fixed time interval of five years. Thus, political participation improved with the introduction of democracy in Nigeria and is currently treated as a prerequisite for fair democratic governance. Political participation also provides that every person reserves the right to influence the decision-making process.
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The most direct method of political participation in Nigeria is through voting, whereby citizens have the opportunity to vote for new leaders after five years of service. However, the trend is quickly changing, and political participation has taken a diverse twist to include belonging to a political party, role-taking in cultural activities, petition signing, and participation in demonstrations among other forms. As a result, political participation means all activities that citizens of a given country engage in while trying to influence the decision-making process. An in-depth analysis reveals that political participation may take a formal or conventional way or unconventional methods. A conventional method involves voting, joining political parties, mobilizing, attendance at political meetings and lastly campaigning.
On the other hand, unconventional methods of political participation entail participating in a protest march, boycotting products, petition signing, demonstrations, firing at the law enforcers, participating in the commentary on both television and radio talk shows and lastly blogging. The concept of political participation greatly applies to the African countries, drawing the conclusion from the protests that occur almost on a daily basis. The growth of social media has also motivated political participation by the youth. The rise of social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, BlogSpot has enhanced youth participation in political matters.
The Internet has enhanced youth participation in politics, as many forums are available, upon which they can follow political activities taking place in the countries, which updates the youth on the political news. The Internet hosts social media, and the platforms appeal to many youngsters as it is the most recent technology in the field of communication that is gaining prominence. The Internet appeals to many youths because of its immediacy in the delivery of responses. It provides immediate feedback to the involved parties and thus facilitates communication.
The Internet comes as an advantage to the youth in matters of political participation as it provides a forum through which the youth interact with politicians and clarify trending issues in political circles. The Internet also stands advantageous because it offers young people a platform to nurture political talent. The youth may interact with politicians on social sites and receive guidance on how to advance their political career. The Internet has also provided a way for the youth to mobilize one another and even organize a demonstration against issues that they feel are wrong or politically incorrect. The Internet has increased political participation by providing formidable ways upon which the youth can organize mobilizations, demonstrations, and sign the petitions. Whistleblowers in the modern world rely entirely on the Internet connection to raise red flags when they notice an anomaly in public service. Whistleblowing as a form of political participation gained ground with the spread of internet use. Thus, it is projected that the Internet will enhance the spread of democratic ideals all over the world, bringing the reign of dictatorship that characterized the pre-internet era to an end.
In fact, the revolutions taking place in various countries in Africa have their origin in the Internet mobilization. The Internet social involvement has seen some countries put strict measures including filtering of online content and shutting down of YouTube services, especially during times of unrest. The political participation is bound to increase as online services gain prominence in the inner parts of Africa that had lagged behind due to marginalization.
The Internet has a strong influence because of the masses of information and traffic it contains. The advancement in technology has introduced Internet-enabled phones that sale at cheap prices thus becoming available to almost every person. The youth forms the majority of the African countries’ population, which means the Internet can pass information to a wide audience. The global mobile community also provides insights to the youth that help them to monitor closely their elected leaders and raise an alarm in case of problems.
Therefore, one can conclude that the Internet has enhanced youth participation in politics. Moreover, political parties have also utilized the Internet to recruit the youth to join their parties, and the outcome bore the fruits. The Internet has also provided a platform upon which political leaders can engage with one another on the matters of public interest with close monitoring from the mobile community. In addition, politicians have utilized the Internet for mobilizing their supporters to either register as voters or turn up for the voting exercise. The political trend in most African countries indicates that Africa has witnessed an increase in the number of voter turnout during elections, which is attributed to online voters’ mobilization. An increase in the number results in greater political participation as well as effective civic education. The Internet has enhanced voter participation in elections as politicians educate the masses on the importance of the electoral exercise via the Internet. Therefore, the continent moves towards a democratic society.
The Internet has gained prominence due to the increase in sophistication of communication technology. Advancement in communication technology and the dynamism of the current world motivated the development of a more effective means of communication, which led to the popularity growth of the Internet. The Internet has had several impacts on the lives of individuals, including increasing awareness and participation in social and political matters. Moreover, the Internet has enhanced effectiveness and efficiency in communication. Individuals convey information and receive feedback immediately. Finally, the Internet has increased global awareness of democratic activities as the online community pushes democratic ideas and agendas that have led to the toppling of dictatorial reigns.
The Internet initiated a social revolution that led to a change in the way individuals assess information. Trends keep on changing, including political, social, economic and cultural areas that are gaining popularity over the Internet. Therefore, the Internet has brought about significant change in the life of a man contributing to the development of a social mind. On the other hand, power is in the hands of the people in the democratic states. Democracy provides that power is vested in the people, and the current communication trend shows that citizens participate more actively in political life. One of the ways is involvement online. Therefore, in order to gain the attention of the masses, the involvement of the Internet becomes an ideal tool to use. It suffices to assert that the Internet has created a platform upon which one can gunner political support and eventually grasp political power.
In conclusion, it is evident that the Internet has an influence on the masses, and anyone who uses it effectively can benefit. The Internet has also created a platform, upon which political leaders interact with the masses and account for the power and resources vested in him/her by the electorate. Thus, the Internet provides an accountability forum upon which individuals elected to power become accountable to their electorate. Therefore, the Internet in Nigeria has encouraged youth to participate more actively in politics through social media as a part of their everyday lives.