Nweke, Danbatta Celebrate Ominiyi Ibietan At Book Presentation

By Kemi Yesufu

It was a gathering of some of the country’s brightest minds when the Head of Media Relations at the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan formally presented his book, Cyber Politics: Social Media, Social Demography and Voting Behavior in Nigeria.

The event held at the Communications and Digital Economy Complex Abuja on Tuesday 25 July drew a large number of friends and associates of the author as well as distinguished guests from different sectors of the economy.

Comperes for the well-attended gathering, veteran broadcaster, Ohi Alegbe and former Channels TV correspondent, Omelogo Nnadi kick started proceedings on time by calling on the representative of the publisher of the book Premium Times Books, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed, to give his welcome address. Mojeed said Cyber Politics: Social Media, Social Demography and Voting Behavior in Nigeria is another offering from the staple of the publishing arm of the media company. He explained that like earlier publications from Premium Times Books, the book from Ibietan deals with a topical issue that if well dissected will help in moving the country forward.

 Chairman of the occasion, former minister of Information and Communication, Mr. Frank Nweke II started what turned out to be a day of celebrating Ibietan as a public intellectual. The former minister said the author who worked with him as his media adviser displays a level of patriotism, creativity, intellectualism and commitment to the improvement of the conditions of others which is rare. He described the book as a blueprint and foundation for future studies on the impact of social media on voting and elections in general.  He said the post social media elections circles have taught the political class to recognise the power of digital interactions.

 He also had advice for government for managing the social media which he acknowledged as having contributed immensely to promoting free speech and participation in politics and governance in Nigeria. “Just as the case with most things in life, the digital effect is not without its downsides. The ubiquity of social media which gives freedom of expression and wide access to information also gives no clear boundaries for same. So, fake news and misinformation became another battle we had to fight. More so, as we say bad news travels fast, so government and the political class would deal with immediately countering false stories which easily finds its way into public conversations with sometimes very devastating or potentially devastating impact”, Nweke advised.

Editor-in-Chief of Leadership, Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene, reviewed the bookstating that it is serious and polemic just like its author. He dissected he 460-page book which is divided into 12 chapters, concluding that though it is a product of well-presented research, its soft language makes it readable, for anyone seeking knowledge on Nigeria’s cyber culture, its demographics, elections and voter behavior. He further explained that the author placed a lazer beam focus on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for the research presented in the book. According to him, Cyber Politics: Social Media, Social Demography and Voting Behavior in Nigeria, points to the fact that the social media as the Fifth Estate of the realm can exist alongside the traditional media which is the Fourth Estate of the realm.

  Ishiekwene reminded the audience of Ibietan’s long history of activism and push for an egalitarian society, starting from his days as an undergraduate in the University of Abuja, adding that his book is borne out of his interest in the role of the media in protecting freedoms. The veteran journalist and respected columnist, recommended the book for mass communications scholars, researchers across related fields and individuals seeking knowledge. 

Ishiekwene said: “Cyber Politics helps the voter ponder if the social networks they belong to or the influencers they follow have any potential effects on their political behaviour either in terms of mobilisation or their actual voting decisions. Sometimes we think we’re our own man, until we realise like Pavlov’s dog, that someone somewhere might be pulling the strings.

“The author makes the important point that “social” did not start with the Internet – after all man is a ‘social’ animal. What the Internet or technology has done, however, is to put a seal on our global village.

“But is it true that social media influencers are “motivated to undertake organised campaigns during the election using their platforms, largely due to the need to bring about a better social order?” It does appear to me (and perhaps this was unique to the 2023 elections) that social media influencers were just a force for good as they were a force for mayhem”.

Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep. Julius Ihonvbere, who represented the Speaker of the House, Rep. Tajudeen Abass gave Ibietan a thumbs-up for conducting a much needed study on the impact of social media on elections and voter behavior in recent times. He noted that individuals like the author must be encouraged to continue on the path of educating and enlightening citizens at a time where activism has waned even among organised labour, students and NGOs.  Speaking further on the book, the lawmaker however opined that the socio-economic realties of a significant percentage of voters means that social media even with its power doesn’t have a huge impact on election results. He argued that politicians still have to meet with those who can hardly afford the luxury of social media and whom will would rather make demands from candidates directly before they vote. 

The book presentation also had a panel session which had Ibietan joining, writer, public affairs analyst and CEO of Orascom Properties, Mr. Majid Dahiru and professor of mass communication and deputy dean, Postgraduate School, Baze University, Abuja., Abiodun Adeniyi. As with earlier speakers, Adeniyi shared reminisces on his long friendship with the author, speaking of integrity and virtues. Dahiru on his part spoke of the timeliness of the book, saying that Nigeria’s democracy should be researched and analysed.

Ibietan spoke during the session moderated by social entrepreneur, author and Coordinator, African Centre for Information and Media Literacy (AFRIMIL), Mr. Chido Onumah. He revealed that his research put the influence of social media on elections at 10 percent. He further explained that at ten percent social media has significant impact as other factors constitute the remaining ninety percent of influence on electoral outcomes.

The author said his book is a culmination of a life of activism borne out of seeking a better society at good pace. Ibietan took time to thank Nweke, Ishiekwene and the chief host of the event, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta.

Danbatta who led other dignitaries to unveil the book called for a round applause to celebrate Ibeitan, whom he said he shared a love for literature and collectivism. The NCC boss hailed Ibietan as one of his best staff, whose hard work and professionalism stands him out. He singled out the author as one of those who have made his tenure as NCC helmsman productive and less cumbersome.  He spoke on the relevance of the book, saying that it will fill the gap for much needed research on the impact of social media on the Nigerian society, most especially elections which is very much integral to the country’s stability and development.


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