By John Kayode
A civil Society Organisation, United Global Resolve for Peace(UGRFP) has called for issue based campaigns among political parties as the 2023 general elections beckon.
The Chairman of the organisation, Mr Shalom Olaseni in a statement signed and made available to newsmen urged political parties to do away with destructive and negative campaigns that can lead to national strife, elevate primordial and ethno-religious debacles in the country.
According to the statement “with the statutory embargo on campaigns for next year’s General Elections set to be lifted in accordance with Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act of Nigeria in less than a month’s time ,it has become imperative to resound the call for issue-based campaigns devoid of the usual gimmicks of political parties who embark on disruptive, negative campaigns that cause national strife, elevate primordial, ethno-religiously driven debacles. While diminishing the opportunity for constructive national discourse to aide voting masses in making informed decisions for persons into elective positions.”
“The United Global Resolve for Peace (UGRFP), in line with its policy direction, call on all political parties to take the part of honor and sell their candidates core competences and the ideas which set them apart to earn the people’s trust and votes.
“The campaign period will provide ample opportunities for both candidates and voters in the run-up to elections because candidates are expected to use the campaign period to sell themselves and their ideas to voters, whereas voters are expected to use the campaign period to evaluate candidates and decide whether or not they will vote for them.
“As a result, campaigns for next year’s General Election must in all ramifications attract adequate and elaborate preparations that allow for a contest of ideas while provide a platform for assessing the mettle and preparedness of each candidate.”
“It is with great concern that we at UGRFP note the emerging subversive pre-campaign trends that have characterized pre-campaign directions within major political parties in Nigeria. The seeming choice to take the path of calumny and propaganda in next year’s election as observed on traditional and new media is precipitous of a destructive path to governance that has the potential to alienate and drive assunder certain voting blocs and demographics.”
“It is a regrettable and ill-advised resort, and one which we at UGRFP condemn in the strongest possible terms.”
In our policy and advocacy contemplaton, it is admitted that perhaps an underlying rationale for such underhand tactics by political parties, beyond ‘bad-belle’ politics, is the statutory time-frame within which campaigns are officially permitted.”
As earlier noted, Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act only permits a 150 days comampaign period which terminates exactly 24 hours before Election Day proper. We strongly submit that the allotted 150 Campaign days are too short for an all-encompassing campaign across the breadth of a large and populous nation like Nigeria with its inherent peculiarities and diversity.”
“While not intended to excuse a poor political campaign, it may very well account in part for the ‘rush-hour’ kind of politics exemplified by inter-party drives to de-market opponents within the time available much more than to sell the competence of their own candidates.”
“While this 150-day period may be sufficient for candidates for State Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, and possibly even governorships of states to canvass their political constituencies in order to persuade voters to vote in their favour, we strongly doubt it is ever sufficient for presidential candidates to canvass the length and breadth of Nigeria and launch meaningful campaigns.” We say this being fully cognisant of the advent of the internet and its capacity to make a village of nation, but the place of inter-personal meetings through town-hall meetings and rallies which provide a better opportunity to assess presidential candidates especially can not be overly emphasised.” It is in itself an opportunity for prospective candidates to feel in person the pulse and uniqueness of each ward, constituency and states whose votes are needed on the road to victory.”
“The above, however, is largely limited owing to the short campaign period in Nigeria. As a result, rather than emphasising why they should be elected, politicians resort to negative tactics, emphasising why the opposition candidates should not be elected.”
“Unfortunately, this scenario frequently corresponds to the needs of Nigerian print and electronic media, which have failed to encourage issue-based campaigns over time and, on the contrary, appear to revel in negativity, all in the false belief that negativity sells faster and thus is more profitable. However, the political system is always worse off as a result of it all.”
“The UNITED GLOBAL RESOLVE FOR PEACE (UGRFP) while encouraging political parties and candidates in the election to choose the path of honor and integrity, will also be leading a policy advocacy for a review of Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act as a part of an intended overhaul to better the Nigerian Electoral System.” An extended campaign period will allow political parties to do more on the campaign trail while allowing voters ample time to evaluate each candidates. This will also make negative campaign rhetorics less attractive with the added advantage of burning out and becoming irrelevant over time.”
“UGRFP will continue to lead the advocacy for free and fair elections, and the strengthening of the political process in Nigeria.”