BusinessDay

Politicians off to slow start seven days into campaign

Most of the politicians vying for President of Africa’s largest economy have got off to a slow start seven days into campaigns, in a country where voters are eager to assess their plans to stabilise an ailing economy and tackle insecurity.

One week after the kick-off of the presidential and National Assembly campaigns, it appears that most candidates of the 18 political parties are not ready for the task ahead.

With the commencement of electioneering, it is expected that the candidates and their parties will traverse the length and breadth of Nigeria with their manifestos to convince voters why they should be voted into office in 2023.

But across the country, most candidates are still taking everything as business as usual, despite the initial euphoria in the days leading to the commencement of campaign on September 28.

With the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in February, political parties and their candidates now have five months to campaign before the election day.

The five-month campaign period is an extension of the 90 days for campaign before the amendment was done.

Stakeholders said the five-month period of campaign should enable the parties and their candidates to sufficiently sell their programmes to the electorate.

However, observers have expressed concerns about the lack of vigour towards campaign within most of the political parties and their candidates ahead of next year’s February 28 election.

The major political parties and their candidates are yet to articulate their plans, programmes and roadmaps ahead of the 2023 election.

Ahead of the 2023 general election, there is a wave of optimism among Nigerians, especially the youths, that the right crop of leaders that can change the narrative would be elected in 2023 to rescue the country.

Except for Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the other presidential candidates are yet to unveil their manifestos to Nigerians ahead of next year’s poll.

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, has also been interfacing with Nigerians, with rallies mounted by his supporters across the country.

Political watchers say the delay in commencement of campaigns by parties and their candidates may not be an indication that they do not want to present their agendas to the people, but could just be that they are not ready now.

Tope Musowo, a political analyst, said: “I don’t want to believe the parties and their candidates are not ready to campaign; of course we know some of them always want an easy way to win an election.

Read also: 2023 presidential campaigns: The media must beware of sophists and sophistries

“People want to hear them talk now unlike in the past. But you should understand the way campaigns go in Nigeria, you don’t just go out to talk, you have to also be ready with logistics and otherwise.

“If you look at the major parties, they have one issue or the other. Some parties are setting up campaign councils and it must be sorted. Look at PDP, look at APC. With time it would be sorted and they can go to the field, you don’t go out and campaign in a divided house.”

Last weekend, a picture emerged on social media of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), walking out on a treadmill, to prove that he is fit.

In a video he shared on Sunday via his Twitter handle, Tinubu said: “Many have said I have died; others claim I have withdrawn from the presidential campaign.”

The video has continued to elicit reactions from Nigerians who questioned Tinubu’s purpose of jetting out of the country just when electioneering had just begun and refusing to sign a peace pact for presidential candidates.

Several videos have also emerged on social media of various politicians and candidates engaging in physical exercise just to prove their fitness to Nigerians ahead of the commencement of campaigns.

Adelaja Adeoye, a political analyst and chieftain of the PDP, said the crisis that emanated from the presidential primary had slowed down campaign activities of the party.

Adeoye said it would be unwise for Atiku to begin a campaign when agitations by some of the party leaders had not been resolved.

He said: “The PDP is still putting its house in order, asking Ayu to resign; of course, for balance of power; I believe that they are taking their time.

“I believe after the matter is resolved, you would see robust campaign; they are carrying out activities; all those are party members trolling on social media

“Nigerians should wait; soon, we will see a massive campaign. Very soon, the people would see that the PDP is serious about taking over the government and offering purposeful leadership in the country.

“I am sure that our party will be ready when all this is resolved very soon. So, we Nigerians should calm down. You don’t take the trolling on social media by party members seriously.”

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