Written by Austine ELEMUE

2019 elections: challenge of issue based campaigns

Last week, political parties commenced campaigns in line with the electoral timetable and schedule of activities issued by the INEC.

 

 

 

 

 

Section 99(1) of the Eletoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provides that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90days before polling day and end 24hours prior to that day.”

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, had advised political parties to conduct their activities in an organised and peaceful manner that is “devoid of rancour, hate and/or inflammatory speeches.”

Though the electoral umpire only just declared the campaigns seasons open, political parties have been subtly campaigning behind the scenes, with many throwing veiled jabs at each other without necessarily telling the electorates why they should be voted for.

For some political parties, the lifting of ban on elections campaign is a licence to openly declare war against their political rivals and outright propaganda against such opponents.

Only a few see the period as an opportunity to squeal their plans and agenda to the electorates, rather than spreading falsehood and smear campaigns against other political parties.

Political campaigns are meant to help electorates in making the right choice. It is another avenue for voters’ education by the political parties, where they teach and inform prospective voters on the best options for them and even how to go about making those electoral decisions.

However, such decision can only be made in an environment where the electorate are presented with a potpourri of ideas on critical issues (not on religion, ethnicity, corruption allegations or who is permitted into the USA or not).

With less than three months to the presidential election, Political parties are yet to understand what decent political campaigns should be all about. Instead of being a contest of ideas and issues, most campaign managers seem prepared for more abusive and inciting messages.

To them, it is a battle of the best mud swingers, and so political parties scurry to engage the services of image makers notorious for their loathsome utterances.

More than at any other time period in history, Nigeria needs clear cut direction on how to handle issues of insecurity, economic instability and corruption.

Political campaigns must begin to address these issues and help the electorates make informed decisions, rather than focus on mudslinging and personal attacks.

Past elections in Nigeria have been tainted with violence and political murders, mostly because of the hatred spread during campaigns.

Political parties have succeeded in dividing the country along political, ethnic and religious line for their selfish gains through campaign of calumny.

Politicians must therefore watch their words and guard against utterances that can further divide the country or throw it into violence.

As political parties take their campaign across the country, they must warn their members against the use of uncouth languages in any guise, as the new media age does not only empower the electorate, but it helps them preserve information that can be used in the future.

It is time politicians begin to consider election campaigns as platforms for battle of ideas and ideologies.

Nigerian politicians must put patriotism and national interest above any other interest. They should take a cue from politicians like the late Senator John McCain who during his 2008 campaigns against Barack Obama, took out time explaining to a supporter that Obama was a decent family man and a good citizen of the United States of America who just happen to have a different views on fundamental issues. 

The 2019 general election is crucial to the peace and economic future of Nigeria, as the country is confronted with myriad of problems.

Today Nigeria is rated as the poverty capital of the world, being home to over 87millions poor citizens, while its unemployment ratio keeps growing even as the challenge of corruption seem to elude successive administrations.

The crisis in the north east is yet to be completely tackled, while the wave of crime in other parts of the country has continued to rise.

The country is also battling with serious crises in sectors like education and health, where workers strike has become a regular occurrence and basic amenities missing in the sectors.

With fluctuating global oil prices, and the United States and China threatening to cut fuel import, our long years of total dependency on crude oil may be near.

Already the country is at the brinks of another recession and only the right decisions can spare us from another round economic recession.

It is therefore critical that only leaders, who understand the times we are in, should be voted in to stair the affairs of the country and only campaigns devoid of sentiments can help the electorates make the best decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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