How Did We Run Campaigns?

by admin


Campaigns are over for the 2023 elections. At least, for the presidential race. A retrospective look at how they ran is necessary because the campaigns are as important as the elections themselves.

How did the candidates comport themselves as they crisscrossed the nation in search of supporters and votes? How much did their words weigh, negatively or positively? Were there infractions on the rules and regulations of a healthy political communication? What about morality and humanity in their choice of words and actions? How much hate speech, and how much decorum did candidates observe during the campaigns?I think this is an aspect that non-governmental organizations should be interested in.

They ought to note these against every contestant with a view to rating each candidate. The public must know how they sold themselves, conveniently and safely, and promoting an air of conviviality that ought to be the hallmark of a true nation. 

 Perhaps, the result of this kind of rating will give us an insight into how far we are progressing in nation building.This time around, candidates that look good to have stolen the people’s heart in their use of words and restraint in invectives during campaigns are Labour Party’s Peter Obi and his running mate Yusuf Datti-Baba Ahmed in the presidential race. 

The air of friendliness generated by this duo in their campaigns is so soothing and capable of healing every wound that ethnicity, clannishness and pretentious democrats had inflicted on the nation’s psyche. Clips of a few instances where they campaigned are evidence of the above assertion.

At the onset of the campaigns, when Peter Obi pulled out of the giant People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and later joined the little known Labour Party (LP), the talk around town was that the LP was insignificant and lacks the “structure”, in other words, they have none of their members as governor, senator or at the house of representatives.  


By the kind politics Nigerians are used to, the criticism sounded plausible. Obi, however, turned it around to his favour, telling the much abused electorate that they are the “structure” that matters, and that the referred structure had been a structure of criminality! Indeed, the structure the big politicians have maintained over the years appeared to be similar to the Mafia of those dark days in America, who engaged in organized crimes in their separate “families”, each minding its business and intermittently engaging in wars when threatened by another family. The family here is synonymous with the political parties. 

While carrying on that way and succeeding, these Mafiosi politicians have continued to congratulate themselves as astute politicians, oblivious of the grave harm they had been doing to the nation. The electorates, the discerning ones among them, are now reflecting on the abysmal mess the nation had found itself over the years and appear to be coasting to the Obi camp that promised them respite from the unscrupulous leaders.

Thus, the parties have lost their relevance as voters are today focused on individuals.Obi’s brother and governor of his state, Prof. Charles Soludo, came up with aspersions against him, telling him that the value of investments he claimed to have made for the state while giving his scorecard as governor of Anambra was “worth next to nothing”.  Rather than pick offence, Obi arranged himself at a forum where the issue cropped up and spoke to the admiration of the audience.  He said that investments go up or down in value, but they remain investments.

Then, a powerful message to the incumbent Anambra governor – that governments come and go, whatever he did not complete in his time, that the governor should complete them and govern as a professor that he is. At Chatham House, London, the heavy issue of Biafra cropped up. Somebody asked him how he was going to deal with the Biafran agitators and the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), aware that there had been criticisms that he had not condemned in strong terms the activities of the group that happen to originate from his home zone.

Obi insisted that he would dialogue with all shades of agitators in the country, reminding the audience that IPOB was not the only agitators in the country. According to him, “people agitate in my house and I deal with such agitations”.

Intriguing was the latest by Bola Tinubu, the presidential All Progressives Congress (APC) who alluded to the Biblical Peter that betrayed Jesus Christ.  And Peter Obi replied that it was the same Peter that Jesus handed the church over to.For every missile hauled at him, he had his patriot missile to neutralize the effects and actually turned it to an advantage. And when he throws his own missiles, they hit targets but leave no ruins and destruction behind. 

Nigerians in the past had a beautiful game of politics everyone enjoyed. Campaigns were full of humour, and money was not the focus. Guns and machetes were seldom used. Politics had panache, elegance and class. It had a human face. It was fun.All that fun has been replaced with violence and brigandage which we, today, see as politics. Now, we get threats of “baboons soaking in their blood” if a particular candidate does not win. All over the country, the 2019 elections, right from the campaign stage, had put citizens on edge. In Lagos, Rivers, Kano, name them, blood flowed as the polls went on.

After the polls, the altercations were caustic enough and actually corroded relationships. And litigations littered the courts even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) continued to be “inconclusive” with their tasks.In 2023, the nation is again yearning for the return of the old days when they enjoyed their politics.  Everything went wrong when the Mafiosi politicians saw politics as a goldmine, the field where everyone must wheel and deal to get rich at the expense of the masses. Others saw politics as a means to foist their personal beliefs and religion on the people. Yet a good lot see the Nigerian politics as a means to grab other peoples’ lands, or a means to expand their empires.

Then, Boko Haram, the Niger Delta militants, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), the MASSOB, the MOSSOP, and all kinds of militant organisations sprouted to either foster or counter conflicting interests. Many of today’s politicians who are inclined to gangsterism see the power in politics as a veritable tool to insulate themselves from the law. The nostalgia of the good old days when palm oil was the mainstay in the East and cocoa held sway in the West while groundnut pyramids grew taller in the North is real and those days need reenactment. Those were the days our politicians knew that politics was about bettering the peoples’ lot, a tool for development, a platform for the prudent management of scarce resources in the interest of the common man. Shall those days return to Nigeria? The Obi-Datti campaign has given hope to Nigerians that the masses could stand up successfully against the debilitating politics of structure. The perfection comes with a desired result on Saturday. A new Nigerian is indeed possible, barring the gullibility of the masses and the machinations of the old order. 

Dr. Odu can be reached through

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