Could Wajackoyah’s Case Be the Same With Peter Obi? Every Nigerian should ask themselves this question. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate for the Labour Party in Nigeria, is immensely popular on social media currently. Although he has won the hearts of young Nigerians, it appears that many individuals only debate on social media without voting.
The Just Concluded Kenya Election
The people of the Republic of Kenya have elected William Samoei Arap Ruto as their new president. Ruto will succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose constitutional two-term maximum of 10 years has ended, barring any unfavorable circumstances. According to Kenya’s constitution, the successful candidate must collect at least 25 percent of the votes from 24 of the country’s 47 counties and 50 percent of the votes plus one.
William Ruto, the candidate for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), won 50.5 percent of the vote, or 7.1 million votes, in a hotly contested election that required six days of vote counting, a lot of stress, and apprehension as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) uploaded and collated the results. His main opponent, 77-year-old Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement/Azimio One Kenya Alliance, got 6.9 million votes, or 48.9 percent of the votes.
There were four major candidates for president in this election, but the third is noticeable: Professor George Wajackoyah of the Roots Party of Kenya, who ran a perhaps unexpected campaign targeting young voters, complete with frenzied, eccentric social media mobilization, reggae dancing, discussions about the benefits of marijuana, and hyena testicles.
Kenya Election is a Lesson to Every Nigerian
The just completed elections still have an impact on us in Nigeria as we get ready for our own major elections in 2023. In terms of Social media popularity, Wajackoyah’s social media sensation and populism fetched him 61, 969 votes – just about 0.44% of the total votes cast – a grim reminder of the limits of social media populism in the context of elections. The fourth candidate, David Waihiga Mwaure of the Agano Party, almost stood no chance, with 31, 987 votes (0.23%) as this was a tight race between Odinga and Ruto. Kenya’s general election 2022 is probably the most competitive so far in the history of the country.
Social Media Popularism in The Context of Elections
It is the turn of either Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, or Peter Obi, but can social media determine who will win?
George Wajackoyah is a 63-year-old professor, who like Peter Obi brought a lot of excitement in the Kenya presidential election. As a political commentator puts it, George Wajackoyah proved to be the most eccentric of the four presidential candidates contesting the 9 August election. He convinced the Kenyan youths and they all became his structure.
Despite running on an outrageous platform with no clear structure, Wajackoyah has managed to appeal to angry, frustrated youths in both urban and rural Kenya, transcending all conventional ethnic, regional, and party lines. The situation with Peter Obi and the Labour party in Nigeria is the same.
On the campaign trail, Prof Wajackoyah tends to wear a tracksuit, T-shirt and headscarf rather than a smart suit – to show he is not part of the Kenyan establishment he accuses of rampant corruption.
On social media in Kenya, he won the presidential election many times online the same way Peter Obi does here week in week out.
The Peter Obi Instance
The search keyword “Peter Obi” peaked on Google Trends in mid-May but was dropped in early July.
It is the need to uproot the current cycle of politicians that is influencing this. The country, as in 2014, is looking for a savior who says he is ready to solve the country’s myriad problems. And, young social media-savvy supporters have elevated Peter Obi to a saviour status, and are fighting anyone who says no to the campaign.
Recall that Wajackoyah also experienced this; he won on social media, but his supporters failed him during the election, is this going to be the case of Peter Obi?
Social media does not win a presidential election anywhere in the world.
There is a chance that 15% of the eligible voters (84 million as of 2019) would be persuaded to vote for one candidate if five million young Nigerians choose that person for the presidency and two million of them actively distribute that message outside the borders of social media.
84 million may increase to 100 million or more based on reports of the number of young Nigerians eager to vote in the 2023 elections.