The 2023 campaigns will kick off today, in accordance with Section 94(1) of the new Electoral Act 2022. The campaign is expected to last for 150 days,one day to the general elections. The politicians who are seeking power will take their campaigns to the electorate in order to woe or convince them to vote their political parties.
Campaign involves selling of parties manifestos and candidates’ expected programmes if elected into power to the potential voters. In Nigeria, campaign is usually chrasterised by political violence, unguarded utterances and sponsoring of thugs by politicians.
Instead of engaging in issues based campaign,our today’s politicians spend their precious time on campaign of calumny, character assassination and above all name callings of political opponents. The unwanted campaign which involves the use of foul languages has continued to heat up the polity and sow the seed of hatred among Nigerians. Though, the Alectoral Act 2022, Police Order, and public disturbance laws explicitly stipulated the punishments for violent campaigns, desperate politician have overlooked and continued to promote it.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the 2023 elections will be shaped by ethnic and religious fault lines. For instance, the decision of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to opt for Muslim/Muslim ticket in a polarised country has continued to generate uproar among the Christian community. This will further open up available market for hate speech and abusive language.
While it is cheering news that President Muhammadu Buhari had, during UN General Assembly meeting in US, promised to conduct credible elections in 2023, this can only happen, if our politicians play the game according to the rules. Unless our politicians see political campaigns as central to good elections and adopt refined ones as being practiced in developed countries, we should forget about having peaceful elections. The 2023 general elections campaign should be centered on how to address the myriad security challenges, deteriorating economy and above all unity among the diverse ethnic groups of the country.
With the Frankenstein monster of insecurity in the country,our politicians should tell us their plans or how to tackle these multi-faceted challenges. The country is currently bleeding. The notorious IPOB members are making lives difficulty in the South-east. In the North,bandits have occupied ungovernable spaces,sacking and destroying communities. Nigerians are waiting to hear from these candidates what they have in their kits to squarely address this insecurity.
Nigerian economy in the last four years has nosedived with government at all levels struggling to meet their financial obligations. The conversation during the forthcoming campaign should be on how to address the twin evil of oil theft and fraudulent subsidy payment. It only through issues based campaign that Nigerians will know the right candidates who have the solutions to the country’s problems.
Pambegua, Kaduna state