The origin of democracy is traceable to ancient Greek. The word ‘Demo’ in Greek means people and ‘Kratia’ means government. These two words metamorphosed into the word Democracy.
As earlier stated Abraham Lincoln defined Democracy as ” Government of the people by the people and for the people.” These definition could be broken down into three parts with relevant explanations.
a. Government by the people refers to Government on behalf of the people.
b. Government by the people refers to representative government.
c. Government for the people means that government should be carried on by people of high principle, that is, those trusted with the affairs of government should not be politicians who seek to make themselves rich or powerful at the expense of those whom they are expected to serve. Dibie (2012).
Democracy as a form of government has long suffered to disguised authoritarian government especially in developing nations; as citizens are not allowed to participate and take part in the process of governance.
However, since the advent of the new media (social media), the case has been reversed, as the members of the society have created access to the government and can also contribute positively by initiating their own ideas, air out their viewpoints and reflect their assessment to government policies and programmes.
The new media has also made it possible for the governed to regulate and monitor how their states are been governed; and show feelings of dissatisfaction or satisfaction to the government in power. This is also known as the watchdog role of journalism, just like the dog barks when a stranger comes in , so the populace can now bark on their twitter handle, instagram, Facebook wall, etc, when things go wrong.
The New Media has enhanced and improved Democracy in Nigeria in the following ways:
*1. Political Liberty:* The new media has made it possible for people to be free in engaging in the polity of the nation. Individuals can now criticize the government for positive growth and constructive development without having to directly battle rigid forms of political control or censorship.
*2. Free Association and Groups:* The new media through the social media has supported the right for individuals to associate freely without fear or embarrassment and intimidation. The citizenry navigates to like minds of interests, similar psychographic values, demography and interact together via social media platforms. The citizens can canvas for support for their programs and confer status on whosoever their choice maybe.
*3. Decision Making:* The new media has helped to prioritize decision making for individuals; as they can now make free choices, choose whatsoever they want, condemn any bad and unfavourable political programme and make wise choices without the fear of interference.
*4. Freedom of the Press:* If the press is not free, then the governed is not free. But when the press is free, then the governed is free. The new media has encouraged the freedom of the press in that, the consumers of this information have now become producers of the same information (citizen journalism). Where citizens see any scene or captures any information that is deemed fit to be news and on the spots send it across to other Nigerians via the social media. Perhaps, it aids a more transparent government. Because, the press is not just in the hands of few persons anymore, but have expanded to almost every citizen; as people can now report news within their neighbourhood and post it online for everybody to see.
As we all can see based on the above facts, the new media has advanced the press freedom in the country which makes it more difficult for the government to cover or hide anything from the public, which were mere consumers of information before. The press now has zero worries as individuals have taken it upon themselves to report whatsoever happens, this not including official secrets which is confidential by law.
*5. Surveillance Function:* The new media has enlarged the dividends of democracy in so many ways, one of which is the surveillance function.
The press watches what happens in government and reports it back to the masses. They are the only link between the Government and the governed, they mediate, intervene, interprets and serve in the position of filling the long gap between the Government and the people.
*6. Strict Adherence to the Rule of Law:* Before now, in Democratic settings of developing countries, the rule of law has suffered immensely from dictatorial leaders.
But with the help of the new media such threats to democracy has been reduced to some extents. Because campaigns, protests etc can now easily circulate using blogs. SNS, etc until such leader is ousted out or forced to resign if he or she refuses to adjust.
*7. High Speed of Information:* The new media has made information to travel at the speed of light in this era. For democracy to thrive, information is very crucial and most essential to the development and stability of the citizenry.
The new media has reduced the time been taken for information to reach its target audience, because of all the traffic and the various gatekeeping processes that must be observed.
With the aid of the new media, as it is happening, you are seeing or hearing or probably reading about it. In this, lies the beauty of the new media in its immediacy in delivery.
In conclusion, the new media has aid proximity to governance which in its actual sense is the government for the people. The government nowadays all have Facebook pages, instagram accounts, twitter handles, websites, IMs, etc which makes it much closer for the populace to get through to them.
A citizen of a state can chat with his or her Governor and express his or her feelings, unlike in real life scenario which is almost not possible.
The new media has really brought the public closer to the government.
To an end note, without any doubts the new media has enhanced the practice of democracy in Nigeria; and we urge the Nigerian citizen to keep exploring the new media to benefit from the dividends of democracy.
By Joshua Nicholas
God bless the Media!
God bless Nigeria🇳🇬!
*© Joshua Nicholas*