Opinion Politics
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The Shift from Media-Driven to Community-Based Political Evaluation in Nigeria

By Irem Collins Okechukwu, PhD and Charles Kelechi Iteshi

The dynamics of evaluating political performance in Nigeria have significantly evolved. Traditionally, media aides and mechanisms played a crucial role in assessing and promoting the accomplishments of Nigerian politicians. However, this era is gradually fading away, giving rise to a new paradigm where individual and community-based assessments are gaining prominence.

The Power of Media in Political Promotion
The media has long been a formidable force in shaping public perception. Renowned for its ability to reach vast audiences, the media has effectively promoted politicians, policies, and government initiatives. According to McQuail (2010), media outlets serve as intermediaries between the government and the public, disseminating information and influencing opinions. In Nigeria, politicians have historically relied on media aides to highlight their achievements, manage public relations, and craft narratives that align with their political agenda.

However, while the media remains influential, its role in evaluating political performance is undergoing transformation. The rise of social media, coupled with increasing public scrutiny and demand for accountability, has shifted the focus from media-driven narratives to more grassroots-level evaluations.

The Emergence of Community-Based Assessment
In contemporary Nigeria, community-based assessment is emerging as a more effective and authentic method of evaluating political performance. This shift is driven by several factors:

1. Transparency and Accountability: Community-based assessments promote transparency and accountability by involving citizens directly in the evaluation process. Unlike media reports, which can be biased or influenced by political affiliations, community assessments reflect the genuine experiences and perceptions of the people.

2. Empowerment of Citizens: Engaging communities in the evaluation process empowers citizens to hold their leaders accountable. It fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, encouraging active participation in governance. As Dunu (2018) notes, citizen engagement in political processes enhances democratic governance and fosters trust between the government and the governed.

3. Localized Insights: Community assessments provide localized insights that media reports may overlook. They capture the unique challenges, needs, and aspirations of specific communities, enabling a more nuanced understanding of political performance. This localized approach ensures that assessments are contextually relevant and address the specific issues faced by different regions.

4. Grassroots Mobilization: Community-based assessments facilitate grassroots mobilization, allowing citizens to collectively voice their concerns and advocate for change. This collective action can drive political accountability and inspire leaders to prioritize community needs. According to Kalu (2019), grassroots mobilization is a powerful tool for promoting social change and influencing policy decisions.

The Role of Technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in facilitating community-based assessments. Social media platforms, mobile applications, and online forums provide citizens with tools to share their experiences, report issues, and evaluate political performance. These digital platforms amplify the voices of ordinary citizens, enabling them to bypass traditional media channels and directly engage with their leaders.

Furthermore, technology-driven initiatives such as e-governance platforms and civic tech solutions enhance transparency and accountability. They provide real-time data on government projects, budget allocations, and service delivery, allowing citizens to monitor progress and evaluate performance objectively.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the shift towards community-based assessment offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges. Ensuring the inclusivity and representativeness of community assessments is crucial to avoid biases and ensure that diverse voices are heard. Additionally, there is a need for capacity building to equip citizens with the skills and knowledge required for effective evaluation and advocacy.

Opportunities lie in fostering partnerships between the government, civil society organizations, and technology providers to create robust frameworks for community-based assessments. By leveraging the strengths of different stakeholders, Nigeria can establish a more participatory and accountable political system.

The era of media-driven political evaluation in Nigeria is giving way to a more inclusive and authentic approach—community-based assessment. This shift empowers citizens, promotes transparency, and ensures that political performance is evaluated based on localized insights and genuine experiences. As Nigeria continues to embrace this new paradigm, the collaboration between communities, technology, and civil society will be essential in building a more accountable and responsive political landscape.

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Wisdom Nwedene studied English Language at Ebonyi State University. He is a writer, an editor and has equally interviewed many top Nigerian Politicians and celebrities. For publication of your articles, press statements, upload of biography, video content, contact him via email: nwedenewisdom@gmail.com

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