The critics of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of Labour Party show a clear pattern and intent to defame him by tying him to an irreverent and tumultuous youth population and agitations for IPOB and Biafra. They want to make him a tribal and regional candidate against the groundswell of evidence of national likeness and appeal. Sam Omatseye is the loudest example yet.
The establishment politicians want to deceive the youth and at the same time comfort themselves to think that the online media which Obi’s technologically savvy population dominate does not impact on real life, that it is all youth fantasy, a chimera, that technology does nothing to impact on voter behavior and finally that voter behaviour will remain unaffected by the raging online activities of the mutinous youth population.
Voting patterns they believe, will remain as it has always been, anchored on tribal and religious preferences. The old Nigerian politician believes that technology cannot impact on or change voter mobilization and behaviour.
We heard Atiku say that ninety percent of northern youth do not participate in social media and so cannot be affected by the ongoing surge in youth voter registration. It is his wish that northern youth remain backward and do not embrace technology. For him, northern people must remain antediluvian and unaffected by advances in technology for unending elite manipulation and exploitation.
Adams Oshiomhole’s comments for APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu and subsequent talk down on Peter Obi’s chances in the presidential election is in synchrony with the utterances of Atiku Abubakar, Ifeanyi Okowa, Dino Melaye, Ike Ekweremadu, Ken Nnamani, Emeka Ihedioha and many other older-than-the-earth politicians who have run Nigeria aground. The talks characterize the dishonesty, nescience and mendacity that shape the old practice of politics in Nigeria.
There’s something more sinister that the old politicians are doing with these comments. They want Nigerian voters to keep their allegiance to old political parties and remain faithful to the jaded considerations of ethnicity, sectionalism and religion. They want these divisive concerns to determine the outcome of the next and future elections. They are scared witless of the revolutionary impact of Social Media on voter behavior and choices going into the 2023 elections.
Atiku is dead wrong in characterizing northern youth in such technologically backward manner. To begin with, the banditry ravaging the north is facilitated and made possible by online technology. The communications back and forth between groups, demands for ransom, movements, GSM tracking etc are made possible by advanced technology.
Facts have shown that northern bandits are wielding surface to air missile (SAM)systems which they have used to bring down a Nigeria Air force jet and are applying global positioning technology to evade the security apparatus of Nigeria. Now you should be asking how a man who is not aware of the state of technology by bandits in his neighborhood can hope to handle the challenge of insecurity and rule successfully.
Atiku, Oshiomhole and their kind have thrived in the old order where crowds and large physical gatherings of people signifies public acceptance and popularity. That is part of what they refer to as structure. It is the practice of their times to mobilize huge crowds and have a network of big men who support you with money in hope for gain to show popularity in the campaigns. The dirty truth has been that these big gatherings of hired crowd are always procured through government funding by establishment politicians.
Peter Obi and Datti-Ahmed have no history of government funding, state or federal, but are anchoring their campaign on public goodwill. So the old order are threatened by the examples of virtue, public morality and purity that they bring.
The pugnacious thrust of Obi’s candidacy, the public morality it examples and the revolutionary change it portends for Nigerian politics is what the old order cannot accept with equanimity. For it is a direct challenge that will start a firestorm to burn down the old forest so new plants can sprout and grow. The wildfire acceptance of this prospect by the youth of Nigeria shows the meeting of youthful minds on this matter. So the threat that Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed presents to the prevailing order will inevitably bring a generational conflict in this election.
The old and satiated order that has thrived in idle wealth and is desirous of maintaining entitlements and privileges is seriously under threat from Peter Obi and Datti-Ahmed.
Peter Obi, Datti-Ahmed and their army of youth are determined to bring that regime of idle wealth and privilege to an end and replace it with productive work and cerebral engagements. This, they believe is for their own generational survival. There has never been any better reason for war than economic interests.
For as long as the old order of pork and privilege persist, the youth of Nigeria will be asphyxiated by the morbid system and denied survival and progress.
The pugnacity of Obi’s vision of a new dawn and rebirth for Nigeria in rectitude and productive work is a direct challenge and threat to the unyielding reign of sleaze and corruption.
So now the old order tries to dismiss and deny that threat as well as the possibility of change that it portends as a form of shambolic rejection of Peter Obi, and Datti-Ahmed.
The old order lives in the delusion that what happens in the social media remains in cyberspace and does not translate to the physical world. It is comforting to them but illusory to think that the virtual world has no connection or impact on the physical world.
They, the establishment politician, believes in the old ways where winning elections should remain as it has always been in the old order and this should depend on the traditional media, newspapers, radio and television stations that they own and control.
Media control has always been part of Nigeria’s governance culture. But the establishment politician did not reckon with a new and rude intervention in the form of the new media also called the Social Media and its blistering power of dominating the mind, consciousness and engagements of a new generation of netizens who work, play and virtually live in the cyber world through a portable cultural icon; the GSM phone.
People are spending more time on news, not in the traditional media of information but in the social media.
There’s no doubt that the traditional politicians would have liked to see more control on the social media. They want only their own voices to be heard, to maintain the emptiness of discourse, the vacuity of mind, the general atmosphere of silly content in which they thrive. That’s no longer possible as every voice, opinion and criticism can now be made available to the public.
The greatest instrument of war for the Obi/Datti-Ahmed group is the social media. Social media is not owned and cannot be controlled by anybody. Every person with a phone can be a publisher of news as well as a receiver of news. The Social Media represents the ultimate democratization of information.
Our traditional politicians have lived and mastered a world of town criers, songsters and brass bands mounted on open pickups moving in campaign from one village to another, helping to sustain a social order that they know and can control. But social media? Hell no!
As an old politician shouted out in bitterness and anger; “what is social about a young man or woman with a small GSM phone alone in their house, who is he socializing with?
To the old order, technological advancement is only exampled in four-runner jeeps, flat screen TV and new bombardier jets. It never has to do with changes in staid human conditions and the revolutionary spread of communication benefits to the lumpen humanity.
These are the old thinking on political mobilization which informs the easy dismissals by Atiku, Oshiomhole, Ekweremadu, Dino Melaye, Emeka Ihedioha, El-Rufai and the old politicians who think and say what happens in the social media will not translate to votes on election day. They do not yet understand the nexus between mind control by the media directing the future action of the youth. They do not also understand the power and dynamism propelling Peter Obi/ Datti Ahmed’s campaign dominance in the presidential elections and the cultural connection to the youth.
There’s a conflict and mistrust between generations in this cycle and the establishment politicians are getting clobbered by lack of knowledge of the defining dynamics of the election. The capacity and attainable reach of Peter Obi and Datti-Ahmed and the possible outcome of their challenge is clearly unknown to them.
It is this lack of knowledge beyond the traditional that leads to easy dismissal of the possible outcome of the duo’s iron grip on the social media. The capacity of the social media as a veritable tool for political mobilization has not been previously tested in Nigeria and many other nations of the world. It is both new and potentially leviathan, it’s possibilities seemingly endless and powerful. It is not something in the line of experience of most politicians in Nigeria who themselves are conservative and incurious.
The internet and it’s social media components remain veritable tools for effecting social change that are far more lethal than guns and bombs. Knowledgeable governments know that the internet and the social media are the new roadway to social, political and economic mobilization of their citizens. The totalitarian Government of China has seized the turf of the social media as it were, in order to seize control of the social and political narrative and take the initiative out of socio-political agitators.
But our establishment politicians are still steeped in their antediluvian ways and beliefs, insisting so vehemently that motion is not possible, even while standing on macadamized roads.
The Peter Obi/Datti Ahmed campaign is pulling the rug from under their feet through the army of youth who understand better the needs and demands of the contemporary world and whose interests have been denied by the dinosaurs of the Nigerian establishment controlling the presently ineffective traditional media.
It was because of his plans to take the presidency that Bola Ahmed Tinubu established “The Nation Newspapers”, Television Continental (TVC) and has control in a few Radio stations to dominate and influence political communication during elections. But the internet and social media has overrun, overtaken and overwhelmed these traditional media in reach, power and effectiveness across the nation.
The truth has become self-evident in Lafia, Nasarrawa State, that the social media will be the dominant media of political campaigns and will help determine the course and final outcome of this election.
The internet and the social media component combines all the features of all other media of communication; sound, voice, animation, video, text. The internet has also erased the limitations and expanded the boundaries of interpersonal communication through phones, chats, video conferencing. The Nigerian youth have mastered them all and can no longer be controlled.
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