Despite the fact the our extant electoral laws frown at early electioneering campaigns, political leaders both from the ruling and opposition alike, have embarked on indirect campaigns capable of heating up the polity. This is more worrisome as some parts of the country are at the moment engulfed in carnage that is akin to a war.
Our ruling political elite are more interested in welcoming decamped politicians from one party to another, conduct insensitive political rallies, and calculated visits to key traditional and religious leaders across the country. What does the law say about early campaign?
Section 99(1) of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended avers that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”Why would our politicians deceptively circumvent the law? INEC must wake up to its mandates and start checking the activities of political parties in the country. It is not enough for INEC to watch; it must invoke the relevant sections of the law to enforce and sanction erring political parties and politicians doing any form of public campaign in whatever guise.
The presumption that it is difficult to enforce the rule on election campaign is untenable as there is a very clear distinction between holding unadvertised political strategy meetings and pre-emptively soliciting the public for electoral advantage towards fulfilling political ambitions. To be sure, within the context of Nigerian electoral democracy, an aspirant or hopeful is different from a party flag-bearer: the former focuses his/her campaign messages largely on party members/delegates to secure the party’s ticket as candidate during the election, while the latter engage the electorates directly in soliciting for their votes during the general elections. INEC should not be frustrated; rather it must ensure politicians and their political parties play according to the rules of the game.