Democracy is a style of government in which the people have the right and authority to deliberate and decide who govern them per the time.
It is commonly referred to as the government of the people by the people and for the people. This ordinarily suggests that the people are at the heart or centre of a true democracy.
Nigeria as an independent country has been immersed in political advertising cum campaigns since the first republic. In those early days of democracy, we were told stories of how powerful some of our political leaders were just to sell themselves to the people as the best for the positions.
We were told how late Nnamdi Azikiwe wrestled and defeated mermaid “mammy-water” and put her inside a bottle just to buttress the intellectual, spiritual, and other virtues they felt qualified him for the office.
Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was said to have a magical power that he was capable of knowing all conspiracies against him. Ahmadu Bello was presented to the electorate as a man with a magic mat that could take him to the moon. Such were our pattern of political advertising cum campaigns then.
Political advertising as a phenomenon has always been with us in one form or the other. However, the trend of destructive campaign strategies to tarnish the image of an opponent is relatively new in Nigeria, and of course, taking a dangerous dimension.
Distorting the truth about a candidate primarily by emphasising his or her personal attributes at the expense of information about issues on the ground is quite risky and destroys our political structure
Political campaign serves a useful political function by the virtue of its informative nature. It no doubt creates and promotes general awareness among the electorate.
It is a proven fact that the limitation of electoral information about the quality of political candidates has a profound effect on the political structure of a fact; tranny and dictatorship will be greater if the electorate only know little about the candidates.
For, according to Goldenberg, the quantity and quality of information available to voters have consequences for constituent interests in the campaign turnout, familiarity with the candidates’ names and reputations, assessment of the candidates, and eventual vote choice.
The implications of this can be said to mean that character assassination can crudely rob a candidate of his or her votes. Funny enough, we are a people who believe that the man that shouts loudest speaks the truth, hence, political gladiators would engage the services of propagandists to help distort the truth about an opponent and sell him or her to the electorate as an evil person.
Distorting the truth about a candidate primarily by emphasising his or her personal attributes at the expense of information about issues on the ground is quite risky and destroys our political structure.
Information about issues is more important to the electorate than the candidate’s character assassination. The electorate are ordinarily more concerned with who is this candidate, what is he coming to do, and what has he done before?
We believe that Nigeria by imbibing a destructive political advertising structure seems to be heading towards self-destructive tendencies, which serve nobody any good.
It is unfortunate that the country’s political stakeholders and shareholders are putting more campaign energy on image-making or laundry than addressing issues. Little wonder we have the ‘pull-him-down campaign syndrome ravaging the country.
Recall how the political opponents of Goodluck Jonathan took to the media distorting his image as a docile leader who could not muscle up the energy to fight terrorists, address fuel price hike, or could he curb corruption in the corridor of power. Hence, the popular choice to boot him out.
Today, we are all witnesses to how well the country has fared under the new leadership. Probably we have less corruptive tendencies in the corridor of power with N80billion of public fund missing overnight, prison breaks on the rise, and the rising kidnapping tales.
There is a great need to guide the commercialisation of personality profile or the image laundry exercise with extreme care to avoid selling a bad product as a good one, which in the end amounts to regrets both to the sellers and buyers.
The media and agencies must realise that campaign of calumny goes beyond the financial benefits accrued to the firm and individuals; it involves the future of Nigerians, even the unborn babies.
Today, the leaders we sold some years back have borrowed away the future and joys of our youths. Worst still the borrowed money was invested in projects that have no immediate benefits to the people.
We must not forget that our politicians see the electorate as assets with enormous value to get them into offices and milk our commonwealth for their unborn generations.
As a matter of urgency, Nigeria needs a national value but not before we get our leadership selection right. We must elect leaders who can creatively and ingeniously develop a national character with which they can live and lead. But this starts with what we project to the electorate – The agenda-setting theory of the media and its agencies.
We do not need leaders who are not interested in developing our economy, who would rather go abroad for health vacation than develop our hospitals, or would rather send their children abroad to school than develop our education sector.
Countries that have developed into viable nations have consciously taken national values and worked painstakingly over the years to produce a political environment where accountability and decency are the order of the day.
God has been faithful to Nigeria. We have overcome many problems, a few of which are potent enough to cause disintegration. We have been blessed with resources of which oil has become a curse. We have been unlucky with leaders who cannot unite and move us forward as one big and united people.
The time has come for us to put an end to all these political campaigns of calumny! It is a strategy of the few against the majority, a destructive weapon against our peace and progress!!