Oby Ezekwesili Drops Out: The Demand-Supply Mechanism of Nigerian Policies

Oby Ezekwesili Drops Out: The Demand-Supply Mechanism of Nigerian Policies

Oby Ezekwesili drops out of the Nigerian presidential race. She never had a chance because the gatekeepers continue to control the supply of votes. Like the old media world before the age of internet, controlling supply (the newspaper) was the most effective way of influencing demand (readers). So, provided that you are the gatekeeper in your local media market, the contents consumed by the readers would be determined by you. Pre-internet, everyone waited for Guardian (and the other national newspapers), and NTA to get a sense of the business of the day in Nigeria.

This capacity to control demand was the reason advertisers moved money through those traditional media as they controlled the means to reach customers. They were indispensable!

Fast forward to this age where controlling demand is the 21st century business model: the firm that controls demand dominates the market. Google, Facebook and Twitter control demand (the users) and the old gatekeepers have been disintermediated. Guardian, NTA and New York Times do not have the old-empire control in the markets. Yes, most times what they write is already known, and the distribution they follow is not exclusive: Internet is unbounded and uncontrolled unlike the old newspaper vendor-based model which they controlled exclusively. Consequently, because of that shift, advertisers are moving to platforms like Google and Facebook because those are the ones controlling the users which are the entities that see adverts and visit shops to spend money.

But today, the game has shifted from control of supply to control of demand for web-anchored consumer firms. And only companies with capabilities to control demand are going to win big. As shown in the table below, most of the greatest internet companies are simply controlling demand and that means controlling how supplies reach users and consumers.

In politics, technology has not reached that element of disruption in Nigeria. Yes, we are still pre-internet in Nigerian politics. The gatekeepers continue to control supply of votes and in the process influence the outcomes of elections. If they do not approve you, you have no chance!

That is why any party that is not APC or PDP has marginal impact: breaking the supply chain with the pyramid scheme that runs from national through state to ward level is hard. No great vision or policy statement can break that because to a large extent it is still decoupled from the web: the demand cannot even read that message without it being processed by the gatekeepers.

So, provided the channels still go through the gatekeepers, anything not of them will be dropped while what belongs to them would be passed from top to bottom. Mrs Ezekwesili faced that challenge and at the end, she could not overcome it.

No – I used traditional media as an analogy to explain why people without control of supply cannot win elections in any politics that is pre-internet. Without internet, Obama would not have won the U.S. Presidency as the Clintons were evidently in control of the supply of votes and money machine. But because of internet, Obama could access votes and money without going through the gatekeepers. Nigerian politics is practically still pre-internet and no entrant, not supported by the gatekeepers, has any chance.

Nonetheless – Madam Oby has contributed her quota.

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