As part of activities involved in any electioneering the electoral umpire in Nigeria, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has created avenues for political parties and their candidates to showcase programs and policies, which the electorate would expect if given the mandate.
In doing so, many political parties and their candidates employ different forms of propaganda using different mediums such as electronic, print, and social media with the sole aim of convincing a large number of supporters and members of the public for votes ahead of the elections.
The recent experiences in Nigeria’s election outings, especially in 2003, 2015, and 2019, saw some alarming levels of the use of hate speech, fake news, and abusive content in the campaign materials of political parties, to attack personalities and discredit rank-and-file politicians.
On campaign grounds and gatherings, scandalous songs are often common to supporters of these actors who believe that this method could sell their candidates to the electorate
Over the years, a campaign of calumny has gradually become the norm as gladiators in the political arena think that such action has come to stay in Nigerian politics which many term dirty
These developments have no doubt hurt the nation’s electoral processes and for this reason, ignites political violence among supporters.
However, political actors are believed to be potential leaders who want to take up the mantle of leadership by leading the country and ensuring that they are voted for in the next election; should indeed act like real leaders who have the people’s interest in heart.
After all, politics should be in the interest of the people.
“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” says, Nelson Mandela.
But unfortunately, the opposite of the above nugget is felt in Nigeria and some African states; such that instead of these political actors, engaging eligible voters on issue-based campaigns by showcasing their manifestos which are expected to be people-centered, only focus on frivolities, personalities, or parties which many times indicate that these political actors place little or no premium on developmental ideas.
There is therefore the need to change the narrative. Nigerians deserve better campaign engagements from the political class as done in the developed countries of the world.
It has therefore become important for candidates to employ the services of competent content strategists who can creatively provide campaign messages, devoid of hate speech, fake news, and abusive materials.
To this, is the fact that media organizations must painstakingly vet all jingles and other materials brought by politicians during campaigns to ensure that no party or candidate gets discredited directly or indirectly
Candidates are also advised to sensitize their followers on the need to project the manifestoes and ideology of the party in a civilized manner, rather than engage in unhealthy arguments
This would in turn create a ripple effect on social media users who would not want to heat the polity by also projecting more fake news and inciting comments in the pre and post -election atmosphere having considered the implications and more importantly, when they realize that these political actors have gotten it right and are now doing the needful.
Written by Mosope Kehinde, Publisher, Online Newspaper; Media Consultant | Public Relations