With over 280,000 fans on Facebook, Goodluck Jonathan has been called ‘the Facebook president’ by CNN. Perhaps, this is not far from the truth, having a combined tally of the British Prime Minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merket, and South African head of state Jacob Zuma, on Facebook.
Since the Nigerian president created his Facebook profile in June 2010, he appears to have formed the habit of making daily profile updates on the social networking Website about recent news, events, government policy and the upcoming Nigerian elections, which perhaps explains why he boasts of over a quarter of a million fans in less than 6 months.
Perhaps one of his most notable updates was when he first announced his intentions to contest for the 2011 presidential elections on Facebook, after a long period of speculation on his candidacy. The Facebook status, which was made on September 15, read “I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President”. As expected, the Facebook announcement was quickly reported by National newspapers making it the first time the social networking site ever made the headlines of Nigerian newspapers.
Political analysts, however, stress that social media platforms cannot play a meaningful role in politics particularly in Nigeria which according to internetworldstats.com, have around 1.7 million Facebook users, a small proportion total electorate.
What role should social-networking sites play in politics?