How Technology Helped Buhari Win Nigeria’s Presidential Election

How Technology Helped Buhari Win Nigeria’s Presidential Election

By Alexis Akwagyiram | From Reuters

Technology played a decisive role in helping Muhammadu Buhari become the first Nigerian to oust a sitting president at the ballot box, from social media campaigning to biometric machines preventing the widespread rigging that marred past polls.

Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, part of the 72-year-old former general’s appeal to the electorate in Africa’s biggest economy lay in his successful rebranding as a man who embraced democracy.

A good deal of that rebranding happened online, where campaigning from smartphones can build momentum at low cost.

“The digital strategy has been a lifeline of the campaign for young people. We needed to create an image that enabled people to connect with him,” Adebola Williams, the 29-year-old whose Lagos-based communications company, StateCraft, orchestrated Buhari’s digital drive, told Reuters.

Even the doubters conceded that they had seen campaign material online.

“There were a lot of discussions on their Facebook pages, but I am not sure that really influenced me,” said Endurance Dauda, 24, a student in the northern city of Kaduna, who said many of her friends are not online.

While not everyone was convinced the online methods swung their vote, the potential is hard to argue with.

Africa’s most populous nation – with 170 million inhabitants – has some of the world’s highest levels of mobile phone ownership. There are 127 million mobile phone subscriptions in Nigeria, the International Telecommunications Union says.

Read more at Reuters