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Impacts of ICT (Internet and Mobile Phone) on Political Communication in Nigeria

A key requirement for effective citizenship is knowledge. Meaningful democratic decision-making requires that citizens understand basic facts of government and the issues that are at stake in election (Perloff 2014). Probably with this in the back of their mind, the then newly elected democratic civilian government in Nigeria at inception in the late 1990s, decided to make access to Information and Communication Technologies - ICT (internet and mobile phones) for everyone in the country a top priority seemingly with the realisation that ICT is indispensable in educating and empowering citizens. The government started by liberalising and deregulating the country’s telecommunication sector thereby paving way for private ownership of telecommunication companies in the country. This move effectively transformed the telecommunication sector of the country and triggered off an era of digital and mobile telecommunication among the citizens. Millions of Nigerians became connected to the ‘Information Super-highway’ (the Wold Wide Web) heralding a new dawn in information dissemination in Nigeria. Spreading like wildfire, Internet and mobile phone started gaining widespread usage among citizens from the cities to the remote regions of the country leaving profound impacts on users. Very noticeable among the impacts is the growing trend in the use of internet particularly the social media for political communication amongst the more educated Nigerians. As a result of very low number of qualitative and quantitative research work done on internet use, its effects and diffusion in Nigeria, it may be unfortunately so, too early at the moment to lay hands on reliable and precise statistical figures on, this in order  to have properly ascertained firstly, the impacts of ICT-use on the political perceptions of Nigerians, and secondly, if one could link this new trend to the seemingly increased desire in Nigerians to participate more active in the political decision-making processes in their country.

This thesis aims to critically and systematically analyse the real impacts of internet and mobile phone-use on the average citizens of Nigeria; and how that has affected their individual evaluation  of the performance of their politicians and in general, the quality of the democratic dispensation currently obtainable in their country. The study will pay particular attention to the impacts of the internet on the most recently concluded 2015 presidential elections in that country.