February 13, 2019

Trends, strands of 2019 politics in cyberspace

Trends, strands of 2019 politics in cyberspace

Atiku and Buhari

…Politicians talking tech

…Campaigns emojified

By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-tech Editor)

Information and Communications Technology, ICT, is unusually driving issues of the 2019 elections. The trend is actually a new dawn for the sector and players in the industry believe it’s a good omen for the country’s economy.

Atiku and Buhari

Usually, campaigns are strictly about rallies and talks centred on rice, beans and other condiments that characterise “stomach infrastructure.” It used to be about ‘eliminating’ the opponent in less conventional or outrightly unconventional means. Strategies to do so were carefully crafted by camps, cabals and deadly nocturnal meetings.

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However, with the 2019 elections, it appears the tendency is changing. The importance of technology in electioneering is taking centrestage. Campaigns are heavy online and in social media and candidates are being innovative in their strategies to eliminate opponents.

Although the electronic- based Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC, did not start with the 2019 election, there is, however, no other time in the history of Nigeria, registration, distribution, collection and insistence on its use for voting have become more crucial   as this year.

Supporters of different parties, particularly the two major ones, the All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP have also gone to ‘war’ on the internet, though the analogue ones are still carrying guns and machetes as usual. In the Nigerian cyberspace, physical attacks which could lead to unnecessary chaos is avoided. Supporters  devise means of de-marketing opponents on social media. Terms and coinages like #Buharists, #Buharideens and #Atikulators and #Atikulooters trend on social media.

In their war of words and de-marketing strategies, Buharists are described as those who believe that President Buhari has done well in the last three years and should be given another chance, while Buharideens are those who allegedly do not believe the president can do any wrong.

On the other hand, Atikulators are described as those who believe that the PDP presidential candidate,  Atiku Abubakar has a grasp of the economy and could turn it around if given the chance while Atikulooter is a derogatory term opponents use to infer that anybody in support of the PDP candidate is a looter.

Interestingly, almost all politicians contesting for one post or the other are talking technology. All of them have twitter handles, facebook and instagram pages and through these platforms, they sell their manifestoes and prospect eligible voters.

Former Vice President and now, presidential candidate of the PDP,  Abubakar Atiku has also gone further to launch an Artificial Intelligence solution to enable him interact directly with electorates, especially the youths.

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Tagged world’s first ‘emojified’ manifesto, by his supporters, the innovation will enable young people to interact directly with Atiku by choosing from a host of questions to pose to him and hear directly his responses.

According to Atiku social media campaign team, “the aim of the solution is to cut through the rhetoric to help youth voters understand more about the issues that matter most to them. The manifesto emojifies 40 pledges from #TheAtikuPlan across the key areas of government, education, jobs, human capital, economy, business, and sport and culture”.

The innovative technology works on smart phones and any other device that can access a web browser from laptop, PCs to tablets. It can easily be shared on emails, SMS or WhatsApp and other social media platforms, .