It’s a wrap and as expected Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan has been elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the next 4 years. I closely followed the Nigerian Polls way before it begun. Nigeria was on everybody’s radar when Umar Yar’Adua, the former president was elected in 2007 after his demise last year.
My interest in the Nigerian Elections was in the use of the internet, technology and social media and I looked it from its use by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Political Parties/Candidates, the People (Voters) and the media. In all, I was trying to draw lessons as Ghana prepares to go to the polls in December 2012.
Despite the initial hitches, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did quite a good job. I was impressed by how Nigeria deployed the biometric voter registration system. This is something we have been talking about in Ghana for some time now and I really hope we can get a biometric voters’ register for the 2012 elections. I will eliminate/reduce electoral fraud and vote rigging. The process according to the Electoral Commission will cost $80 million. I don’t think that is too much to spend as we want our polls to be credible and avoid situations like the Ivorian one. INEC’s website displays boldly links to their Facebook and Twitter pages, Blackberry PIN, email address, SMS and telephone numbers for results and updates. I am quite certain the Electoral Commission of Ghana’s website will be update towards 2012 with social media integration. They better hire the right people to manage their Social Media office.
The candidates and political parties used social media to woo young voters. In 2010, CNN published an article on its website titled Goodluck Jonathan: The Facebook Preseident in 2010. Back then Mr. Jonathan had 246,000 friends. Goodluck Jonathan went on to announce his candidature for the presidency on Facebook. Today, he has 532,000 friends and counting. Social Media was widely used in the campaign trail and I expect that to catch up with Ghanaian aspirants for both the Presidency and Parliament. Ghanaian politicians haven’t showed much interest in Social Media. John Evans Atta Mills has 15,500 fans and counting on his unofficial Facebook page. Opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has 4,920 friends on a page I believe is his personal profile. I expect these pages to swell up with friends and fans towards #election2012. Can someone confirm Nana Addo Dankwa’s twitter page? Can we get more Ghanaian politicians using Social Media, please?
My primary source of news for the past three years has been Twitter and my RSS feed. I turned to Twitter for updates on the elections via the hashtag #nigeriadecides and users on my private NigerianVotes list (@eggheader, @africanelection, @NigeriaNewsdesk and @bubusn). In 2008, I remember using Twitter to push out updates to Ghanaians in the diaspora and people who were interested in happenings in Ghana. I will single out @ghanaelections as the best source of 2008 elections update on Twitter. The account now tweets post-election issues. I recommend you follow @ghanaelections now! With the number of Ghanaians on Twitter growing, the world should expect an explosion of tweets from Ghanaians in December 2012.
I don’t remember any media house in Ghana using Twitter during the 2008 elections. I am not sure about Facebook either but as we gear towards the 2012 elections, taking examples from the USA’s 2008 elections, Nigeria’s 2011 elections and recent Social Media-led revolutions, I bet our media houses will be doing a lot of reporting via twitter and facebook. I tip @Joy997FM and @peacefmonline to lead the way. Between the two, they have some 5,000 followers on twitter. I expect them to beef up their social media desks in the next 12 months in anticipation of the 2012 polls.
Let us continue to pick lessons from the Nigerian polls and debate how the Ghana online community can contribute and make ours free, fair, transparent and better.
God bless our homeland Ghana!!!