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Social Engineering the Electorate


In recent times, elections in Nigeria has largely been dominated by excessive spending. More worrisome is the fact that a large chunk of the money earmarked by parties is spent on inducing voters on election day. In a recently concluded election, this phenomenon reared its ugly head again. Since eliciting votes on election day by offering cash is now a recurring decimal, it means that the political class in Nigeria is firmly sold on the idea that votes can be bought.

But what gives them such confidence? I think most political actors understand basic human nature and are fairly good social engineers. Yes, it might come as a surprise to some my characterizing your average Nigerian politician as a social engineer but bear with me as I give my reasons below.



First, let’s start with a definition of social engineering. Subject matter expert Christopher Hadnagy defines it as “the act of manipulating a person to take an action that may or may not be in the “target’s” best interest. This may include obtaining information, gaining access, or getting the target to take certain action.
In our case the manipulation is done via offering pecuniary benefits, the “targets” are the voters and the desired action is that the targets thumbprint in their favor. Unfortunately, in this case, it is not in the targets best interest. 

But why does the target not realize that selling votes is not in his best interest? I think they don’t realize the con because the immediate monetary gain has been made overly appealing due to scarcity. In a country where unemployment is high and salaries of those working are seldom paid, any form of financial inducement will often be very effective. This is not something new, as it has been tried before and seen to be effective.  
In conclusion, I think the formula for social engineering the electorate on election day is;

High Inflation rate + High Unemployment rate + Months of unpaid salaries + Free cash at polling units = electorate being social engineered. 

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