POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE NEED FOR ISSUE-BASED CAMPAIGNS IN THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA

By Gloria Thomas

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On the 28th of September 2022, political parties in Nigeria officially began their campaigns, in the run up to the 2023 General Election. This is as stipulated in the Electoral Act of the country, which provides that campaigns are to be carried out within a period of 150 days to the elections. The political space is therefore now cleared for open campaigns and rallies, door to door vote-seeking, town hall meetings, mounting of billboards, printing and sharing of posters and the like.

The space is also open for radio and television jingles, interviews and political debates, all geared towards allowing the candidates to sell themselves and their parties to Nigerians.

As the campaigns gain momentum, it is important for the candidates and political parties to focus on issues rather than attacks on personalities, mud-slinging, character assassination, destruction of property and many other clandestine activities aided by gangsterism.

As far as politics is concerned, the main preoccupation of most Nigerians today is how to get a man who can pilot the affairs of the country in such a way as to turn around its fortunes and put it on the pedestal of development. This can only be actualized through issue-based campaigns by candidates who are offering themselves for the plum job of the number one citizen in Nigeria.

According to the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Professor Eghosa Osaghae, however, politicians generally see issue-based debates, consultations, and campaigns as a waste of time and insignificant to winning elections. He said those who dwell on issues and visions are not seen as serious, but rather too academic. They are told that all they are saying is simple theory and not practical or operational.

It has been identified that the greatest challenge in Nigerian politics in present times, is that the parties are not standing on any ideological base. Politicians, therefore, find it difficult to tell their supporters what they have in stock and what they want to do for them. There is hardly any ideological difference between one political party and another. No wonder therefore that politicians change party as one would change clothes.

In the past, political parties emerged with different ideas, concepts, ideologies, and manifestos. Parties such as the Action Group, Unity Party of Nigeria, Northern Nigerian People’s Congress, The Nigeria People’s Party, National Party of Nigeria, People’s Redemption Party, Great Nigeria People’s Party. National Republican Party of Nigeria, Social Democratic Party and so on, had different ideologies with which they were easily identified. Not so with the current 18 registered political parties.

As the elections approach, the candidates are expected to concern themselves with ideas on how to tackle the menace of insecurity, especially insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and support the security agencies to overcome the security challenges. Another issue is how to make Nigeria’s education system among the best in the world and ensure that the thousands of Nigerian youths seeking education abroad remain in the country and save foreign exchange.

They should also tell the electorates how they plan to get the economy back on track with industries up and running and production lines in all sectors performing at optimum levels. These and more should dominate the public discourse as the politicians’ transverse the length and breadth of the country seeking for people’s votes.

Candidates for the State Houses of Assembly up to the Presidency must tell Nigerians their plans for the energy sector, how they intend to tackle the constant failure of the national grid and provide Nigerians with the sufficient megawatts of electricity required to light up their homes and power facilities for productivity and profit.

Other issues the political parties need to focus on are ways of improving the health care system to stop medical tourism, improve agriculture for food security, provide employment for the teeming youth, as well as develop sustainable ideas to drive small, and medium enterprises for economic growth,

Issue-focused campaigns are germane to deepening Nigeria’s democracy.  They will provide the electorate with an understanding of the plans in store for them, thereby helping them make informed decisions as to whom to vote for, come February 2023, when they head to the polls.  This will take away the bad blood created and the penchant for violence at the slightest provocation between rival political parties. Issues-based campaigns will also help Nigerians understand that what is important when electing their leaders, is not their ethnic background, religion, or sense of divisiveness.

Presidential candidates and chairpersons of political parties contesting in the 2023 General Election recently signed the 2022 National Peace Accord on the prevention of violence and the promotion of issue-focused campaigns, organized by the National Peace Commission, headed by former Head of State, Abdulsalmi Abubakar. With this, it is hoped that Nigerians will witness less of sentiments and more of answers and ideas about how their lives can be, as well as how the country they love can take the lead, in good governance, rule of law, infrastructure development, guaranteed security, socio-economic prosperity, along with unbreakable unity, faith, peace, and progress.

 

 

 

PIAK

 

 

 

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