As Nigerians are gearing to vote for a new set of leadership come 2023, there is this fear that the political class who would be wanting to secure the ballots for themselves may not pursue an issue based approach to the campaigns which in turn would be a minus to the Nigerian people and the development of our democracy.
Rather these politicians are seeking to employ all manner of below the belt tactics in order to launch various levels of smear campaigns against their opponents. In the forthcoming weeks, we are likely to witness a deluge of fabricated stories and deployment of fake news with the sole intent of tainting the imagery of their opponents while they leave pertinent issues asides.
The advent and heavy use of social media has also made this style of campaigns very possible. Coupled with what is termed as the children’s of the mob who descend with hate and vitriol upon such candidates, the tendency for an issue based campaign in the 2023 elections is very minimal.
We will not also fail to mention the other evil in the use of propaganda with the sole aim of skewing the narrative to suit the interests of one candidate, party, ethnic group or religion to the detriment of the other.
For the 2023 elections to be termed as totally successful, there is need for the candidates, political parties and the media to ensure that whatever content going out for the consumption of the voting public is one that is centered on any of the issues affecting the common man and how such issues can be confronted to make life better for all. The media houses in particular and the broadcast regulatory bodies must see such a challenge as a responsibility or duty. The concept of gatekeeping imposes on the media such responsibilities, thus the media regulator must ensure that be it print, broadcast, or online, the principles of fair journalism must be implemented. Now while this may be easy for the print and broadcast sectors, it is not same for the online media which has since its advent become the enfant terrible of mediasphere particularly in Nigeria.
Armed with a laptop or any mobile device with access to data, millions can be reached within seconds causing spontaneous reactions to such items. In a country where Media Literacy is quite low, such elements of disinformation would readily be believed.
However, a number of social media platforms have recently deployed tools and procedures to check such excesses on their platforms
Nigerians would readily appreciate a 2023 campaign that dwells mainly on issues, nothing more would be acceptable.