Social Media helped Buhari to win Nigeria elections
by Kofi Ayim
Faced with the daunting task of demystifying his tag as an uncompromising, media-unfriendly, and a man unable to mentor younger generations, and yet desperate for power, the strategists of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari used every available media to re-create, re-package, and re-define the one-time strong-armed military Head of State into an adorable and conscientious politician. This assessment was made by Mr. VinMartin Ilo, a celebrated Nigerian journalist at a forum in Manhattan June 9, organized by the Center for Media and Peace Initiatives (CMPI), headed by Dr. Uchenna Ekwo.
Mr. Ilo pointed out that it was during Mr. Buhari’s military regime in the 1980s that some Nigerians and critics of his regime, including journalists and the king of Afrobeat Fela Anikulapo Kuti were jailed. Fully conscious of his past image, and coupled with his advanced age, Mr. Buhari formed the All Progressives Congress (APC), a conglomeration of opposition parties to face the incumbent ruling party of President Goodluck Jonathan. Knowing the unlimited resources of the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) government, and the compromised nature of the traditional media, the Buhari campaign keyed in to the over 75% of Nigerians with access to telephones and social media such as Tweeter, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook among others, to facilitate and deliver their political messages. The team also identified and targeted younger generations that were unborn during the quondam tenure of then Major General Buhari. The laundered image of a hitherto, perceived dented one was repaired and polished and vigorous and poignant political campaign messages delivered to the populace.
Mr. Ilo added that for the first time in the history of Nigeria, not only was an incumbent President kicked out of office through the ballot box, some members of both the upper and lower houses of the National Assembly also lost their seats. The spirited forum was moderated by Dr. Kwame Akonor, Associate Professor of Political Science at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. Also in attendance was Mr. Emmanuel Kayode Ojon, Nigeria’s deputy ambassador to the UN.