2023: Why campaigns should be issue based




As political campaigns ahead of the forthcoming presidential elections get to the crescendo, rhetorics targeted at attacking persons, ethnic/tribe/ religious cards as against issue-based campaigns should be discouraged by all politicians.

Putting things into perspective, by “issue-based” campaigns, most people mean that the presidential candidates should show deep knowledge and understanding of the governance challenges that beset Nigeria and clearly set out and discuss how they would tackle them, if elected.

28th September 2022, the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) in line with the provision of the 2022 Electoral Act lifted ban on political campaigns. In accordance with Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, campaign in public by all political parties “commences 150 days before polling day and ends 24 hours prior to that day”. This has unveiled the floodgate of campaigns for the 18 Presidential candidates vying to replace President Muhammadu Buhari after the February 25, 2023 election.

All the presidential candidates now have the opportunity to fire from all cylinders in a bid to sell, market their manifestoes to voters, however in doing so, the need to emphasise on issues bedevilling Nigeria irrespective of party affiliations should be the sole focus.

Elsewhere in advance democracies such as US, Canada, France, United Kingdom, this is hardly a problem. In those climes, political parties and candidates, sensitive and responsive to voters, set great store on investigating the issues facing their countries and proffering solutions in their manifestos.

For instance, every Nigerian yawns to see an end to insecurity, economic challenge, growing inflation, poverty, ailing industry, infrastructural deficit, endemic corruption, unemployment, failing educational sector among other existential challenges that have held the nation’s much awaited development.

Harping on the importance of issue based campaign at a meeting organised the by Centre for Democracy and Development(CDD) on 1st of September, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu appealed “to all political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns”.

“This is the best way to complement our efforts to ensure transparent elections in which only the votes cast by citizens determine the winner”, Mahmood Yakubu added.

Also, in one of his recent remarks, former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged political candidates to concentrate on issue-based and violence free campaigns.

According to him “We cannot afford to continue to play politics of bitterness and division along ethnic and religious lines. This is because such kind of politics potends great danger to our unity, growth and the sustenance of our democracy.

“We have to be mindful of the destructive impact of hate speech, fake news and mindless propaganda, especially in a clime where the fabric of unity and stability still needs to be strengthened.

“I charge the candidates, their promoters and supporters to exercise restraint and seek to run their campaigns based on issues that affect our people.

“They should, by all means, avoid needless attacks on personalities and use of abusive language, for those are the elements that cause chaos and crisis during elections,’’ Jonathan said.

With about 95million votes available for grab by Political parties, Nigerian NewsDirect is calling on all candidates to design, craft their messages along the plentitude of real issues facing the country.

Nigeria voters must frown at presidential candidates campaigning on the basis of ethnicity, religion, persons and other watering political schema instead of focusing on issues of national concern and interest to every Nigeria. Since 1999 when President Olusegun Obasajo was elected as civilian president till today, Nigeria’s democratic space should have outgrown petty politics anchored on race, tribe, ethnicity and religion.

Political gladiators in this coming election should explore their campaigns managers on the need to focus on issue-based political communications in all fora whether in the social media or traditional media.

Until debates in Nigeria’s political space are centred on issue-based, the nation’s quest to rob shoulders with western democracies becomes a child’s play.