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Nigerian Presidency is Wide Open As Mobile Internet Could Disintermediate Old Political Structures

Nigerian Presidency is Wide Open As Mobile Internet Could Disintermediate Old Political Structures

Comment: Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso do not have nationwide political structures like their APC (Tinubu) and PDP (Atiku) counterparts. My Response below on why you should not discount Obi and Kwankwaso as technology has reduced information asymmetry [‘occurs when one party to a transaction has more or superior information compared to another’] which made local structures very potent.

This is not to say that structures are not important, my point is that disintermediation [“reduction in the use of intermediaries”] is evident, and general voters have access to more information about candidates now, to make decisions independently, out of the influence of political bundlers and brokers.

Technology will create disintermediation that old-style political structures may not matter that much since information asymmetry will be reduced as a result of the ubiquitous smartphones and mobile internet connectivity in Nigeria. Nigeria’s electoral market is becoming more perfect with reduction of information asymmetry (everyone gets the same info about candidates and can make decisions unlike in the past when people relied on emirs, obas, obis, village heads, etc to guide them). 

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As digital systems penetrate, the influence of political brokers, bundlers, etc will fade, since those citizens now have access to the right info about candidates and make decisions.

Yes, you can have party chairmen in all local government areas. But if you do not have the message for the citizens, the chairman  will not stop them from learning about those with the right messages. In the pre-mobile internet age, those chairmen were the pipelines to reach the voters. They used their positions to influence how those voters vote. 

Today, do not count on those old-style structures. You can have them – very vital – but if you do not have the right message, you will struggle. It is like in football where some clubs have zone playbooks – defend in zones and attack in zones. You get a village head, and with him, you have cornered everyone in the village politically. Just like playing zone in football which does not guarantee wins, having those village heads when the citizens can get the information directly will cause a dislocation.

With your phone today, there is no information you cannot reach. Many Nigerians are getting the right info and they can independently make decisions. And they have the channels to also express those feelings, recruiting and influencing others, without just relying on what the pundits are telling them. So, a small party with the right message could be a threat because technology can create disintermediation to the old structures we have seen in Nigerian politics.

Of course, this does not mean that a contestant does not need to build the old structures. My point is that those structures will not win elections unless they come with great visions for Nigerians since mobile internet will help voters discover those with the right messages!

Obi, Oba, Emir, etc could influence in the past as custodians of info; today, the youth sabi wetin dey.

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Comment: America, whose democracy we follow and whose people have the most mobile internet connectivity, in the world has never produced a president outside the two major political parties- Democrats and Republicans. Why is this so? The structures both parties have that are not available to anyone outside the two parties. Without structures that APC and PDP possess, no other party can win the presidential elections in our beloved Nigeria.

My Response: I think you are not doing a good comparison here. If I ask you the logo of Joe Biden’s party, you will struggle. They have attained near zero information asymmetry where you do not even need logos or emblems to know candidates. How do you know them? Their policies or what they stand for. So, it is personalized not “party-nized”.

That is what I am saying. Nigerians will begin to pay attention NOT to party but what the candidates offer them. Interestingly, minor parties in US have nothing new to exploit. But in Nigeria, there are still opportunities as we have not attained policy saturation or stable state in our evolving democracy.

{As late as 1930s, African Americans voted mainly Republican. Later, they moved Democratic as Democrats used voting rights, etc to attract them]

Mobile internet can move us from party to person. That is the message.


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1 THOUGHT ON Nigerian Presidency is Wide Open As Mobile Internet Could Disintermediate Old Political Structures

  1. If social media doesn’t matter, why are candidates still there tweeting and posting messages? We joke a lot as humans. Which candidate wouldn’t want to increase his social media following? Think about saying something and 10 million people are aware within few hours, which traditional structure can beat that? The truth is that those who always bring up the issue of structures are threatened by the popularity others are gaining via social media. Which politician will be happy with seeing five likes and two comments on a message that is ten hours old?

    In politics, every advantage counts, because if you cannot win the psychological battle, you are likely to lose the physical contest. In locations where you are not going to fair well, you can still use social to discourage people from coming out to vote; these things happen, yet people waste unnecessary energy debating on them, even when the reality is obvious.

    Aside from bribing voters, what advantage do structures offer politicians in this present time? The same people that are on social media live in cities and villages, they make phone calls, move around and check what is happening, but it’s easy to discredit people online by parroting falsehoods.

    We will soon learn something.

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