No More Machetes & Missiles, Political Thugs Now Use Laptops & Smart Phones?



Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, a Nigerian writer and journalist recently wrote a piece about the digitalization of political thuggery for BBC.

Here is an excerpt from the article;

When it comes to providing work for idle minds, the devil seems to have a particular fondness for Nigerian youths, especially around election times.

Most elections conducted in Nigeria over the past decades have been characterised by thuggery.

Politicians turn to the country’s pool of unemployed millions to recruit young people who will aid their democratic ambitions.

These youths are then trained and empowered to manipulate the electoral climate.

Their job description includes anything from intimidating political opponents to seizing ballot boxes and clobbering uncooperative electoral officers.

But times are definitely changing.

Rather than supplying them with machetes, missiles and matches, Nigerian politicians are now arming their hirelings with laptops, smart phones and internet connections.

Political thuggery has gone digital.

As Nigeria gears up for the 2015 general elections, squads of young people are being recruited across the nation to storm cyberspace: To harass, intimidate and persecute their employer’s opponents or those with views that oppose his ambitions.

For many Nigerian youths, being an “internet warrior” is a full-time job.

Chemistry graduate turned internet warrior

Some work from home; others work from an office – many work round the clock.

I spoke to a 28-year-old chemistry graduate who patrols the online war front for one of Nigeria’s popular politicians.

Every morning, he gets dressed and embarks on a 20-minute drive to work, where he sits in an office with dozens of other young people on the same mission as himself.

With a burst of laughter, he summarised his job description in three words: “Distort public opinion”.

He and his colleagues have about 10 different pseudonyms each for news websites and blogs, but fewer for Facebook and Twitter.

They bombard articles about their politician with positive comments, and blast those of his opponents with negative posts.

Continue reading the article on BBC site

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