On the 30th of April, 2022, the Partnership for Issues-Based Campaigns in Nigeria organized a virtual Pre-Launch Dialogue on THE AGENDA with Stakeholders on Building a Critical Mass for Issues-Based Campaigns in the 2023 Elections.
The Objectives of the dialogue were to: convene a multi-stakeholders forum to dialogue on the desirability of issues based campaigns in the 2023 elections; brainstorm on strategies to mainstream issues based conversations before and during the elections; solicit the buy-in and support of stakeholders to actualize the objectives of THE AGENDA; and increase public awareness on the launch of THE AGENDA campaign.
The panel of discussants at the dialogue were: Barrister James Kanyip, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state; Honorable Ben Kure, Kaduna State Chapter of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP); Honorable Danjuma Bello Sarki, Aspirant for Kaduna State House of Assembly; Honorable Bilal Adamu Halilu, Aspirant for House of Representatives; and Honorable Imran Jino, Katsina State Governorship Aspirant.
The participants were drawn from the civil society, academia, politicians, tech community, media and other interested stakeholders across Kaduna State and beyond. The interactive dialogue raised germane observations as well as far-reaching recommendations.
In the course of the dialogue both the panelists and participants raised observations as summarized below.
There is the urgent need for all hands to be on deck to ensure we salvage Nigeria from the myriad of challenges led by insecurity confronting us, as we need a secured and stabilized country before elections can hold and ambitions actualized.
The leadership recruitment process in Nigeria is faulty, particularly as internal democracy in our political parties remains weak; with the majority of delegates voting for aspirants not on the basis of credibility or competence but usually on the instruction of godfathers or highest bidder.
The high costs of elections have limited credible and prepared citizens from participating and contesting in elections in Nigeria. Particularly, as a result of the high cost of Nomination and Expression of Interest forms among the major political parties, as well as electioneering is a driver of corruption in Nigeria.
Stakeholders welcomed the amendment of the Electoral Act 2022 and called for more amendments especially around the cost of elections and internal party democracy in order to continue to strengthen the electoral process in Nigeria.
There is the urgent need to carry out advocacies targeted at political parties and delegates to get their buy-in to ensure they vote for only credible and competent aspirants who emerge as candidates of the various parties at the secondary elections.
The electorates and community leaders need to also effectively participate and hold the delegates accountable for the candidates that emerge from the party primaries. This is more so as our constitution does not recognize independent candidacy, which would have given the electorate alternatives outside the options provided by the political parties.
There is the challenge of voter apathy, especially among the educated class, due to trust deficits between citizens and their leaders and the failure of successive governments to meet the expectations of the electorates.
The stakeholders further observed that in the 2019 general elections, out of the 84 million eligible voters, only about 27 million voted in the Presidential elections, out of which only 15 million voted (about 17.8%) for the incumbent President. Similarly, in Kaduna State out of the 3,932,492 registered voters in 2019, only 1,921,229 voted, which is 48%, out of which only 1, 045, 427 voted for the winner and incumbent governor, that is 26.6%. This was much worse in the recent Anambra governorship elections, where just about 10% of the voters turned out.
Equally disturbing is that a lot of the people at the grassroots, due to poverty and other socio-political factors, are largely not interested in issues based campaigns rather they prefer candidates with deep pockets or who they share ethno-religious or political affiliation with.
The youths are also complicit in the perpetuation of leaders that have been at the corridor of power for decades as they avail themselves to be used as political attack dogs and for rigging elections.
In the same vein, it is these same youths that work against their fellow youths who take the bull by the horn to contest for elective positions.
There is the need for the youths, who make up over 60% of the population, to close ranks towards improving the quality of their political participation, engaging the candidates based on issues and voting on merit. Equally, they should support each other as power will not be freely given to them.
As the 2023 elections draws closer, some of the qualities the electorates should look out for includes aspirants/candidates that are energetic, visionary, disciplined, competent, compassionate, selfless, sensitive, understands our diversity, committed to the agenda set by the electorates and understand the aspiration of the people, have the capacity to address insecurity, and will respect the rule of law.
There was consensus that in the run up to the 2023 elections the issues that should take frontburner are unity, security, economy, job creation, anti-corruption, poverty, education, health and food security.
There is the need to ensure good governance, particularly strengthening participatory governance and horizontal accountability – by granting more financial autonomy to the judiciary, legislature as well as local governments.
The electorates need to scrutinize all candidates beyond the campaign promises of what they intend to do, by demanding explanation on how they will do it in terms of their fiscal plan and reforms to be undertaken to actualize the promises.
There is the need for the electorates to sign social contracts with candidates, which they will use to hold them accountable and assess their performance in office.
Stakeholders at the dialogue resolved to:
facilitate another Pre-Launch Dialogue to engage more political actors towards getting wider buy-in and support to champion THE AGENDA campaign.
carry out mass education and publicity leveraging on innovation and technology through the new and conventional media to set the agenda and influence the election campaign narrative to focus on issues that affect the lives and livelihoods of the generality of Nigerians;
engage in mass mobilization of the electorates targeting the grassroots, youths (newly registered voters) and middle class to engage and demand for social contract with aspirants/candidates seeking their support and votes;
initiate advocacy visits and dialogue with leadership of political parties (stakeholders), delegates and aspirants/candidates to seek their commitments to issues based campaigns.
About THE AGENDA:
THE AGENDA is a non-partisan campaign being championed by the Partnership for Issues-Based Campaigns in Nigeria. This is a collaborative platform working to promote issues-based electoral campaigns by setting developmental and governance agenda as well as enhancing participatory democracy in Nigeria.
Ihifix Innovation Foundation
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Head of Governance & Advocacy
Coalition of Associations for Leadership Peace Empowerment and Development (CALPED)