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Businesses jostle for multi-billion Naira presidential campaign spend

Businesses jostle for multi-billion Naira presidential campaign spend

It is business time for printers, media organisations, social media influencers, blogs, advertising agencies, and political consultants as presidential candidates and National Assembly members kick off campaigns for national offices across the country.
It is a once in a four-year business opportunity but has the capacity to change the fortunes of the businesses that benefit from the huge campaign spend that political candidates are about to unleash in order to win the votes of Nigerians.
Ahead of the official campaign season taking off, political candidates have been engaging different communication specialists to help them craft a message that will sell their candidacy to Nigerians and win their votes for the 2019 elections.
Campaigns for presidential election and NASS elections commenced on November 18 and it is expected to last until January 14, 2019; while that of governorship and State Houses of Assembly would start on December 1 and end on February 28, 2019.

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Indication of such positioning has been seen in the setting up of public affairs and political campaign management services by some media agencies for governments, political parties, aspirants and candidates aimed at preparing them to structure their political campaigns better in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
Managing Director and Chief Strategist of Chain Reactions, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, which established such units, explained this is to prepare candidates for the tough challenges ahead.
Both print, electronic media houses to advertising buying media agencies, online media and banner printers are eyeing the multi-billion Naira spend by politicians during the campaign period.
Already, the vice President of Organisation Outdoor Association of Nigeria, OAAN, Emmanuel Ajufo confirmed that banners have been printed and outdoor sites have been allocated, waiting to be deployed.
He said OAAN is ready to work with all parties in the campaign period.
But John Ehiguese, President of Public Relations Consultants of Nigeria, frowned at planned moves by political parties to recruit foreign agencies for marketing communication jobs in Nigeria.
“We have the capacity within Nigeria to effectively prosecute the campaigns at all levels,” he assured.
The media agencies, which are experiencing difficult times, are targeting the campaign spend as one of the levers of succour after the much expected 2018 World Cup did not provide the necessarily fillip for the industry.
CEO of Dijo Communication, Innocent Oboh, told BusinessDay that marketing activities around 2018 World Cup were subdued and failed to lift the effects of recession on the media industry.
Details from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows that a total of 78 candidates are in the race for the 2019 presidential elections. Also 1,803 candidates will be contesting for the 109 senatorial seats in the National Assembly while 4,548 candidates will contest for the 360 seats in the House of Representatives. All these candidates will be forced to print thousands of posters, take advert spots on radio and TV stations, hold campaign rallies, and move around the country or their localities with an entourage of people.
“The economic activities that the campaign season would create is going to be worth billions of naira. Many businesses, especially in the media, are going to benefit,” said a business analyst.
Lawal Biodun, a Lagos based politician and political analyst told BusinessDay that from his experience, a candidate contesting for the position of a senator in the National Assembly could spend as much as N150 million on campaigns while a candidate for the position of House of Representatives could spend as much as N50 million. The presidential candidate usually spends billions, he said.
“Such money is often spent on media, printing of campaign posters, advertising, transportation, and several other logistics needs,” Lawal explained.
The value of the campaign on the economy is not certain.
But analysts have told BusinessDay that it could be worth billions of naira.
Financial documents submitted to INEC by the two main political parties; All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on election expenditure in 2015, gives some insight on how much spending is likely to be on the table between now and March 2019 when the main elections are completed.
In the documents, the PDP claimed to have spent as much as N4.8 billion on the 2015 election campaigns while APC claimed to have spent N2.9 billion according a report by Premium Times, citing the financial documents submitted by both parties to INEC. Together, both parties claimed to have spent N7.7 billion on the 2015 elections.
But political analysts have told BusinessDay that usually the party spend is totally different from what the candidates will spend on their own.
Some estimates say presidential candidates of the major political parties could spend as much as N20 billion campaigning across the country.
This expenditure usually includes the cost of taking advert spots on televisions and radio stations across the country, the cost of travelling and holding campaign rallies across the country and also the cost of mobilising people in each of the 776 local government areas across the country to champion a candidates’ position in their locality.
Taking advert spaces in the media is usually one of the biggest cost for presidential candidates with advert spaces in print media going anywhere between N500,000 to N800,000 per page.
Most presidential candidates usually take advert spaces in each major paper across the country for the duration of the campaign. Radio spots on major radio stations across the country also can cost between N5,000 and N10,000 for a 45 second advert. Presidential candidates usually have to book hundreds of spots throughout the day on 100s of radio stations in a bid to send out their message and remain top of mind of voters across the country.
Ayo Akinwunmi, Head of Research at FSDH Merchant Bank told BusinessDay that the significant expenditure during the campaign season could be inflationary.
“Inflation may jump due to the campaign spending,” Akinwumi said.
However, he said that there would be a positive impact on businesses.
“For example, some fabrics will be used by some political parties in some states and those fabrics will be purchased from mostly Aba in the East and some also from the North and some will be imported. Also there will be increase in demand for brewery products. We may also see increased interest in entertainment. The people in the printing press business will also see increase in transactions and revenue because of the campaign.”
However, Rafiq Raji, the chief economist at Macroafricaintel Investment said that the campaign spending may not necessarily boost economic growth.
“I do not think that it will necessarily impact on the economy because it is just going to be money moving from one hand to another. It is not like entrepreneurship. If you were talking about potential price impact, yes. But because the money is usually for consumption, I doubt if it will have much impact on the real economy,” Raji said.
Bismarck Rewane, MD of Financial Derivatives also shared the position of Raji.
“Campaign spending is just money circulated faster, that is all.  It does not bring new money in. It is just a distraction; the political aspirants are just going to be spending money on campaign. Will it bring in new money into the economy, no it won’t and it will also not bring in new investment.”

DANIEL OBI & INIOBONG IWOK