SIR: Campaign serves as avenue for politicians to talk to the people and to convince the electorate to vote for them and their parties. In an ideal situation, a party that is able to engage in vigorous campaign by reaching out to a large section of the populace, sell her policies and programmes to the electorate convincingly during electioneering campaigns, stands a better chance of winning in an election. Such a party is more likely to carry the day in an electoral contest and this is the reason why all over the world in countries where leaders get to power through the ballot, serious politicians and political parties that really want to capture power don’t joke with campaign.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced September 28 as the date for the commencements of campaigns for next year’s general elections. Campaigns for both national and state assemblies will commence on October 12. Of course Nigerians have been looking forward to hear from the presidential candidates what they and their political parties have in stock for the good people of this country. Though skeletal campaigns have commenced on the political scene since the emergence of presidential candidates of the different political parties, such campaigns are not really deep. They are only peripheral as they have been prominent only on social media and are being carried out mainly by parties/candidates’ supporters.
Thus as we are about witnessing what parties and their candidates have for us in terms of policies and programmes, it’s expected that their campaigns will be issues-based as against what we have been witnessing so far on the social media space where campaigns of calumny and character defamations have been the order of the day.
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And the question that comes to mind here is; will Nigerian politicians and their supporters ever change? This question becomes necessary as mudslinging and dirty brickbats seem to have become part and parcel of our politics. We witnessed same in 2015 and other previous general elections. This trend really calls for serious concern. Rather than convince the electorate by presenting to them what you have to offer when you get to office, l mean the ways you intend to change their living conditions for better, what is of interest to some of our political gladiators and majority of their supporters is painting their opponents black. This is really worrisome.
Like the honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola rightly opined recently at a lecture organized by The Niche; “Elections can be won without negative rhetoric”. According to the minister, “rather than exploit the country’s fault lines to appeal to some sections of voters, politicians and candidates for elective positions can speak to issues and highlight how they plan to solve the challenges”.
As presidential campaigns start in a few days’ time, what Nigerians are expecting to hear from our candidates and their campaigners are real issues; real issues that have to do with how they intend solving our energy problem, how they want to improve our health care system, how they will solve the problems in the education sector, fix our infrastructure and improve the living conditions of our people generally.
The aforementioned are expected to form the kernel of the coming campaigns, but not negative rhetoric like all this unnecessary brouhaha about Muslim-Muslim ticket and character assassinations. For candidates that are being vilified daily by haters and their agents, they should remain focused and always have this Shakespearean quote at the back of their minds; “May thou be as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shall not escape calumny”.
- Kola Odepeju,
Osogbo, Osun State.