Do you know the not too young to run bill has opened up opportunities for young people to win elections in Nigeria? But if the young people don’t know how to win an election, the law will be of no use for Nigerians, considering the state of politics and those now involved in it.
For many young people, you must have lots of money to win an election in Nigeria. Although, that may seem to be true, but it’s not entirely true. You should have a good strategy on how to win elections if you want to contest. And from my careful research, it’s easier for a serious candidate who what to make a difference to win an election in Nigeria without resort to godfathers and rigging.
Most aspirants don’t even know how many polling units INEC is using for elections in Nigeria. It’s pure information that makes the difference between winning and losing and this electoral information is always available at INEC offices or online on their website.
You have to know your numbers that you can only win by a majority vote. So, you should know how many votes are available, how many are within your reach and how many vote gives you the winning in an election. It’s all this calculation that should make you want to contest.
And if you also realize that you stand no chance, it’s not the end yet. You can retreat and relearn strategies on how to meet these goals within the timeframe possible. If it means waiting for the next elections, then you have ample time to plan your way to the top.
Insight on Winning Elections in Nigeria
An aspirant who wants to win should be acquainted with basic electoral facts. What you may not know, is that election is conducted like a business. The facts make all the difference. And if you have the facts, you can strategies better than your opponent, the same way companies compete to win in the marketplace.
In a population of over 200 million people, only 84 million is registered to vote in the election in 2019. That leaves us with 114 million people who could not vote in the election. If you remove those who are underage by law, we may still have over 50 million who should vote but could not vote because they didn’t register. Well, for now, what we have is 84 million. Let’s hope we all can vote by the end of the polls this time.
However, these registered voters are spread across the country and in 119,973 polling units. You can rationalize this figure to arrive at the number of polling units for your ward, local government, senatorial district and the entire state.
However, figures from the past elections also suggest that a high percentage of registered voters didn’t vote in elections. In the 2015 elections, a total of 29,432,083 votes were recorded in the presidential, out of 67,422,005 registered voters that year. That is just 43.65% of registered voters. That leaves 56.35% voting power untapped.
How Elections in Nigeria Work
Currently, Nigeria elections follow a simple pattern. It starts with registered political parties and INEC release of electoral timetable. Then, the expression of interest by political aspirants through their different political parties and the parties conduct election primaries to choose those to fly their party flags at the general elections.
These successful candidates are then submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for fielding in the coming elections. Then, the campaign begins. And don’t forget the interlude when aspirants that lost in the party primaries now start decamping to other political parties in search of a free ticket to contest. Or the usual mouth-bombs that go back and forth, for or against personal and party interests.
When all that is over Nigerians will go to the polls to vote and what determines who wins is measured by everything that happened on or before or after this time. And these are what makes an election in Nigeria successful.
And don’t forget the role of the courts in deciding who eventually won the elections. Aspirants now move from party infighting to cross-party litigations, to prove evidence of other party rigging machines. But meanwhile, INEC is allowed to swear in elected officials while the court case lasted.
Understanding the Politics of Representatives
One of the challenges of politics in Nigeria is the lack of representation. While we can blame our elective officers, we should also see where the electors miss it. You should know that an elected office is there on your behalf. That means he or she is there to do your agenda. But what is your agenda?
Many constituencies don’t have any agenda for their elective officers. They assume the elected officials should know what they want. It’s this lack of vision for the constituencies that is causing the problems of underdevelopment in the country. If communities can develop their own vision and development plans, we will choose the right people to represent us.
No community should support candidates on party basis. It should always be based on the developmental projects of the community. If anyone what to represent you, it should be the people’s choice, and not that of the aspirant’s. And if you don’t like the achievement of one representative, you can recall or re-elect new ones.
The Local Government Election
The structure of Governor’s appointing LGA chairpersons is a fraud. The current structure of even conducting LGA elections is not beneficial to the Nigerian project. The communities should not be left out of local government elections and that of the counselor.
The system should encourage participation of the locals in a politics they can own. The LGA election should be changed from partisan politics to local politics. Giving the power to select and conduct an election to the locals for the government at the local levels.
It will not only bring development faster to the communities but also cut the burden of over dependents on the state government. It will even break the powers of the governors on local government control and place it in the hands of the local communities.
By so doing, the communities can develop a comprehensive governing policy through the local government. Each of the districts making up the local government will form an executive that can will conduct the elections with the help of INEC as the electoral umpire. And using the zoning formula, they can create a level playing field for all communities involved.
The Winning Formulas
And if you think the parties just plan to rig without trying to win other ways first, you will be deceiving yourself. To win an election is not only through rigging. In fact, rigging is just a small percentage of the winning strategy in the Nigeria elections. The not too young to rule aspirants should not focus on rigging to be discouraged from contesting. The biggest electoral fraud is the no-show voters and not the rigging machines.
Remember, the election records the number of voters that take part, including voided votes. There is some level of censored figures that still exist to checkmate rigging. That doesn’t mean politicians won’t try to rig. But there are lots of considerations that go into rigging or else you will have your day in court.
So, I’m going to be looking at some of these factors that play huge roles on how to win an election. And these are what smart politicians calculate when strategizing. Now, you will know why god-fathers exist. It’s not necessarily to rig elections. They offer election-winning strategies that make them indispensable to ambitious aspirants.
And your winning strategy should be well calculated before you venture into politics. The factors that make aspirant queue behind god-fathers shouldn’t arise. Independent candidates can win elections in Nigeria if only they know what to do. There are too many chances available in Nigeria for nobodies to win elections, especially when too many politicians are more focused on rigging and god-fatherism.
Categories of Voters in Nigeria
The first strategic planning for winning elections is to know your voters. It’s the same way businesses segment their customer base in the know your customer’s (KYC) assessment. If you don’t have a proper Voters assessment, you can’t win an election in Nigeria. You have to know what makes up your electoral victories if you plan to win.
And to know the different categories of voters would help you show where your winning power lies and how best you can defeat your opponents. But contrary to popular beliefs, it’s so easy for young people to win an election in Nigeria. What you need is the right how to win strategy. And that strategy is in the voting power. This power is in the numbers, which INEC has appropriately documented.
Although, there is one group of voters I’m excluding from the list. But their action or inaction is in itself a decision. And that makes them culpable on the outcome of elections in the country. I’m talking about the no-show voters. However, I have reserved a particular segment for them in the rigging subhead because they constitute over 56% of voting casualties, going by the 2015 election results. That they never show up to vote is a decision that equally affects the outcomes of elections in Nigeria.
Here is how voters affect elections in Nigeria:
The strength of a political party determines the number of votes it already secured before the Election Day. You should choose your party well. Don’t just rush to get a ticket from any political party. That would just be the ticket to fail. Instead, assess the political party’s membership strength in your area before vying under their platform. A party that has no votes to offer you is not a political party even though it’s registered as such.
These kinds of voters are tough to get. They are not party voters. They are somewhat independent in their voting decision. They choose who to vote for across party lines. And a good number of voters fall into this category. These independent voters hardly make any difference in an election. And the politicians don’t care about them much. Because most of them crisscross into no-show voters.
Here is where all the campaigns by political parties are wasted. These ones are uneducated about matters of politics. They vote as they are commanded by whoever influences them. Most of them are found in rural communities and a few in the urban centers as well. But they represent a large number of voters, and they are easily persuaded. This group is the more reason parties campaign.
This group is the underground economy of politics. They have their votes for sale. If you are looking to buy votes, there are block votes everywhere in Nigerian politics. The politicians will deny that it’s not true, but we know that it exists. It exists everywhere in the world, including the United States of America.
They are mostly lead by political figures. And most of their followers are from the illiterate voters and party voters. When you here specific numbers of party members have decamped to another political party, they are the once. They sell their block votes to the highest bidder. Moreover, they are not really party faithful’s but transactional politicians. Like political business venture managers.
Types of Election Winning Strategies
Election winning strategies are inexhaustible. Different political parties, candidates and even god-fathers have their unique ways of how to win elections. But in these strategies, individual touches play a more sinister role in how they produce results. If you think most politicians play fair, you will be kidding yourself. But you can easily outsmart them because they dwell so much on their connections than facing reality sometimes.
We have selected a few of the strategies being adopted in elections in Nigeria. Some new ideas are also being introduced while old ones are being modified to produce better results. But some of them are not approved by law and cannot be used by sane politicians. But that they are being used at all is the reason I Included them in this document.
I will also recommend that you take them on an informational basis. It’s not based on any idea of sensible electoral strategies. The law does not support them, and I cannot recommend them either. But so you know some of the things politicians are doing to destroy the Nigerian brand and ways you can work against these bad electoral campaigns to win an election.
Also, some of the winning strategies are part of the challenges facing free and fair conduct of elections in Nigeria. They may be strategies for some, but as long as they are not approved in the laws regulating electioneering in the country, they are part of the problem.
The Rigging Strategies
Many Nigerians are now very familiar with rigging. It’s a common belief that every election has been rigged in the country since independence. The fact every political party tried to rig has institutionalized rigging in Nigerian politics.
There are many ways politicians carry out their rigging machine. And each year, as INEC change the voting style, the politicians introduce new rigging methods.
However, rigging has many facets to it. There are many ways politicians may try to rig elections. I may not even be able to cover all of it here, but you know them. You can also contribute to the catalogue of Nigerian politicians rigging machine by commenting on this document where ever it’s published online, on major news media or personal blogs. As I will be making it available for free with rights for any media house to republish without infringement.
So, let’s start with the ones I know and later as you update me I will add yours to this documents as well.
Thugs and Harassment:
Since the days of the NCNC (National Congress of Nigeria and Cameroon), thugs have been a part of Nigerian politics. But it’s not all about a physical exhibition of strength. It can be ethnic harassment driven by the tribal news media formed by the political figures at that time. Even the political parties were established along racial divide.
Later thugs assumed many roles like ballot box snatching, physical intimidation of voters, character assassination, bloodletting, murders, party primarily manipulations, result sheet manipulations, ballot box stuffing, manipulation of voters register and voters card, and now to internet bullying plus misinformation.
These thugs are now used by politicians to even manipulate INEC computer results. As it stands now, Nigeria may never achieve free and fair elections, as INEC is not safe from IT thugs under its employees who are working for politicians to rig the polls.
The most significant voter’s intimidation comes from the imagination of what thugs can do. The no-show voters hide under the concern that they don’t want their pure soul ruffled by thugs working for the politicians. But how long can Nigerians wait to fight back? Now these thugs, after helping the employers win elections are now contesting and winning elections for themselves. Nigeria is under the leadership of thugs. You may call them cabals, but their real identity is thugs.
The Party Agents
There are two types of party agents. Those who believe in the cause of their candidates and those who are working for the money promised them at the end. You can still remember the high-profile case of Orubebe during the 2015 presidential election collation. He is a typical example of a party agent who believes in the cause of his candidate.
But many agents are there for the money. And these agents constitute a big problem for the safe-conduct of the elections. Many of them collect money from other party agents to support in the manipulation of the results to favour a particular candidate, even against the interest of the candidate they are representing.
That is a problem as well for the political parties. They should learn to groom trusted party agents for every election. The idea of leaving party agents recruitment for the candidates contesting is a wrong strategy. Moreover, the party should control all aspect of the campaign as it affects their party victory at the polls.
Only trusted party agents should be allowed to represent the party at the polling units. There are just 119,973 polling units. Any dedicated party should be capable of raising these party agents, at least two per polling units to represent the party.
But most of the problems of party agents are also caused by the political parties themselves. They hire thugs to work for them, as party agent. These thugs are only interested in the money. They don’t even trust the politicians, who themselves are also part of the thug structure.
Ballot Box Snatching
One of the most notorious rigging methods introduced by politicians is ballot box snatching. This method became prominent at the return of electioneering after many years of military rule. It seemed strange at first but became widespread when it was helping politicians to deny their opponents the advantage in some polling units.
However, the new INEC rule of cancel votes as against votes count was applied, the number of ballot box snatching seems to reduce. But it was reintroduced again in a different tactic in Osun state where it was used to stop a political party from winning outright at the first poll count. And that eventually cost the party the victory, as the by-election gave their opponent the lead and victory.
The dangers of snatching ballot boxes can be deaths. Many voters have been injured or even killed during ballot box snatching. These thugs come in with violence to disperse the voters, create confusion at the polling units to give way for their actions. And in some cases, they have worked in connivance with security forces.
Ballot Box Stuffing
Another result of ballot box snatching is box stuffing. The real intention was to snatch it and stuff it with already thumb printed votes. And this strategy works for a while until it was difficult to return a snatched ballot box than it was easier to steal it. And also, because INEC staff in the polling units can be easily bought over.
The strategy changed to using INEC staff to add the already thumb printed votes. So, each political party pays INEC staff of their choice to carry out their bidding. It became a case of how many thumb-printed voters you can pay for.
The party that pays for more thumb printed cards wins an election. The internet is awash with videos of these thugs thumb printing votes for their candidates. And they are also ably aided by security officials. However, electronic voting can end this menace in our election.
Result Sheet Manipulation
And the result sheets are not excluded from politicians rigging machine. Those who wield more power went on to rig from the top level of INEC. Their accomplice is INEC returning officers.
The returning officers can write any figure they want on their result sheet for the candidate that paid for their services. And whatever figure they report at the collation centre is what counts for the last results.
There was no way the electoral officer would have known if something was amiss. Even the party agents at the polling units contribute to this rigging machine to manipulate result sheets. Because by law the party agents are to sign their signatures on the result sheets before returning officers submit at the collation centre.
While many argue that there is nothing like voters intimidation, the reality suggests otherwise. One of the ways politicians have rigged elections in Nigeria is by intimidating the voting public. It’s one of the reasons many voters don’t show up at the polls during elections.
And let me explain the real plan of voter’s intimidation. If you look at the Nigerian setting, those who vote at the elections are the poor, the market women, the artisans, unemployed youths, undergraduate students, the underpaid civil servants, and the politicians with their party members. Every other Nigerian doesn’t come out to vote.
This trend has gone on for years now. And if you do a study on these groups of voters with the present campaign trends, they are the groups that can be bought easily. They are those who sell out to stomach infrastructure.
So, the politicians don’t want the privileged Nigerians to vote because they have a mind of their own. They can make wise choices. Therefore, they intimidate them into staying at home or leaving the country in droves. If you do an analysis of the exodus of Nigerians to foreign countries, they are more in the privileged class. The doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, journalists, economists, etcetera. The poor cannot afford visa to anywhere excerpt to their villages.
If you know what this group of voters does to Nigeria, you will be ashamed to fall within the category. They rig the election more than the politicians have done since 1960. But this group feels indifferent of the political problems in Nigeria.
In fact, many of them are more educated than those we elect into offices. But while the poor, market women, the artisans, unemployed, undergraduates, underpaid civil servants, go to the polls to choose leaders, these class of intelligent Nigerians hide in their exquisite mansions and apartments to watch on TV.
They made themselves observers of the madness of the people. But what they didn’t know is that, as long as leaders are elected by the ‘underprivileged’ in our society, Nigeria can never get the best leadership that it deserves.
However, why this act is disastrous is because it’s over 56% of the voting power of Nigeria. Imagine how much impact this figure can make on an election. It can make the difference between those in current positions and those who could have been in those positions. But where 56% of the people did nothing, the choice of 44% may not produce the best of us.
INEC Officials Involvement
If you think because INEC is the electoral umpire they don’t contribute to the problems, you will be deceiving yourself. One of the significant partner of rigging in Nigeria is INEC. There are too many imperfections in INEC operations that create room for manipulations.
Also, the ad-hoc staffs are another source of a problem for INEC. Since members of INEC staff are also Nigerians, one should expect issues of manipulations arising. Some staffs are also nominated by politicians into INEC team. And when those who gave them job want small favours, they cannot refuse them.
You might think by introducing electronic voting that rigging will be over? I thought so too. But we already have signs of manipulation and accusations of manipulations in the last elections in Ekiti and Osun states. And these accusations are centered on top INEC officials manipulating the electoral results from the backend.
That implies those who have portal access to INEC collation servers can inflate figures or help their benefactor in any way that may improve their victory against the voter’s choice.
A new report has also surfaced recently that the electronic voting machine can also be manipulated to vote multiple times if someone is given a unique code by INEC. And knowing the Nigeria we live in, such things won’t be difficult to achieve.
One way Nigerian elections can be made free and fair is if we deploy artificial intelligence and cut down human interference with sensitive aspects of our electoral processes.
Voters Register Manipulation
One other way INEC aid in election manipulation is through the voter’s register. And there are many sides to it. The structure and financing model of INEC has problems in it. If you noticed the structure of INEC, it has both federal and state electoral offices. And each one of them get their support from the different sources.
One of the most significant revelations of election rigging in Nigeria came from a former governor, Donald Duke of Cross River state. In his account, he narrated how state electoral officers are compromised. And it’s not only the elective officers, but the ad-hoc staff are also compromised at different levels.
There is the case of underage voters registered in some states in the North. This kind of issues is not mere rumours. Other forms of voter’s register manipulations include frustrations to register and multiple registrations. All these INEC manipulations are not new. They have been going on for years.
Voters Card Manipulation
There was a case in Lagos before 2015 general elections where voters complained that card collection was being released based on ethnicity. Some might argue the authenticity of these claims, but I tell you, anything in politics should not be overlooked. The allegations were actually valid ones.
The voters from the south-east and south-south were being screened out in some collection centres and were told that their cards were not yet out. That single actions helped in denying the PDP candidate in Lagos the victory at the polls. The result was a keenly contested election that saw the PDP for the first time almost winning the governorship seat of Lagos.
However, this kind of manipulation is time bound. It worked then because many voters registered fresh for the elections. But another aspect of the manipulation is disabling Voters cards during the time of the polls to give an advantage to a particular candidate. That is only possible for parties that control the state apparatus at the time of the election.
Its more reason why INEC autonomy should be a priority to improve free and fair election.
Now we have come to the godfather’s involvement. Although their impact is fading as new kids on the block are throwing off the weight of their god-fathers to breathe some fresh air. It’s always like customary to have godsons rebelling against their god-fathers after they have been helped to win the election. But that doesn’t end the impact of godfather in every election in Nigeria completely.
The new form of God-fathering is the power of the incumbent. Currently, the governors are the ones trying to lord it on their states. Every outgoing governor seeks to install a successor of his choice, irrespective of the party’s decision. They manipulate the party primaries in favour of their anointed candidate.
It’s now a rational outcome to see in-fighting’s in the parties during primaries due to the governors overbearing influence on the choice of candidates to fill almost every position from the state. Not to mention that it has become their birthright as well to cling on the senatorial seat as a form of retirement benefit.
This new form of god-fathering from governors has become the original form of god-fathers. It’s only in Lagos that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has Successful held on to this title. And by all estimation seems to be well deserved. However, its also being abused by greed for more wealth and power. He has managed to dominate agreeably with the coaxed support of party structure in the state.
Whether or not god-fathers are needed or helpful is still a question of what can we do without rigging. It’s because of the errors of INEC structure that governors have controlled the rigging machines and is sort after by aspiring candidates to help them win.
However, the proper use of god-fathers should have been for mentoring young politicians to do better. There are very few old politicians who are actually doing this.
Whether or not their head was anointed with oil, we do not know. But the case of political god-father Chris Uba and his god-son Chris Ngige leaves a sour taste in our mouth. The news of the oath taken at a famous shrine in Okija, Anambra state came to many as a huge shock. But that has been the prevailing selections guideline for anointing candidates.
The party members know it if you are not the anointed candidate you may not win the election. So, instead of planning a successful campaign, most candidates go after the anointing from god-fathers to secure their mandate. And this kind of endorsements still plays prominent roles in electoral victories in Nigeria.
You can recall the recent primaries of the political parties for the forthcoming 2019 general elections. The one that’s so interesting is that of Lagos state, where a sitting governor was voted out during the party primaries and an anointed candidate was declared a winner in massively voted direct primaries.
It’s a clear case of the party members in full support of the party decision. But you and I know that the party decision is fueled by a selected few. And these powers that be decided that a current governor should not be returned. It can only happen in Lagos. That is not a classic denial that other states are immune to such occurrence.
One of the significant ways elections have been rigged is through political endorsements. This one has become a disease that may eat up everything else. You may not know how dangerous this effect goes, but it’s really a colossal rigging method. It cuts across all strata of our body politics. It’s a self-inflicted injury that will never heal. And as long as Nigerians continue in this path of endorsements, we can never elect the choice of the people into political offices.
It’s usually those who are in the position of influence that are guilty of this one. It’s only those influencers that can endorse candidates and it will have an effect. And we should discourage it from our society. Here is what happens when we endorse political candidates. The weak, those who cannot think for themselves and all those who believe in the personality of those endorsing the candidate are hooked into voting the candidate supported by their influencers.
This is the highest form of rigging, as it sways the decision of thousands, if not millions of voters in the direction of the endorsement. Almost every leader in the country is guilty of it. The royal fathers, religious leaders, celebrities, every influencer is guilty.
And sometimes the influencers are paid to endorse, but the unsuspecting voters may not be aware. We should desist from this and allow the candidate to put up an issue-based campaign and woo the voters on their capacity to lead a better country.
One of the unexpected aspects of our political anomaly is the Diaspora effects. This group of Nigerians living abroad have suddenly become a deciding factor in electoral matters back home. The Diaspora Nigerians campaign more than the ‘bereaved’ citizens residing in the country. But in most cases, their campaign is for filthy lucre.
Remember, these are Nigerians who probably escaped the country in search of greener pastures. But now they want to share in the loot of the country they left behind. They jostle for positions in government from the Diaspora. They even influence government policies and decisions through their well-orchestrated kind of cabalism.
Some of them are also helping the governments in power to invest their loots abroad. They know all the investments, which are usually properties owned by government officials in the respective countries abroad. And now these guys are pushing their luck into the dirty waters of Nigerian politics, as they vie to elective offices, using their dollar power to gain influence among the unintelligent voters.
Vote buying is one of the worst cases of rigging ever implemented in the country. It’s not the buying itself but the rascality in which the buying is conducted. The brazen display of power was grossly used during the last Edo state governorship election that saw Governor Obaseki elected under the platform of the APC.
That election saw bullion van used to carry money to polling units and five thousand naira was shared to voters to induce them into voting the candidate. And it worked. We saw the people hungrily collecting the money and casting their votes as they were led. Some even sold their vote for as paltry as one hundred naira.
The same incident has now become a strategy of rigging the election right at the polling unit. Another case reported was the last Osun state election that saw party officials doling out as high as one hundred thousand naira to buy votes in the keenly contested gubernatorial election in the state.
And if you think we have seen the last of that, then you will be fast asleep in dreamland. One thing you must not take away from politicians is that they love to win. And if they know anything that would help them win they don’t hesitate to buy into it. As long as it keeps working, they will keep buying votes.
Stomach infrastructure is another form of rigging that became popular during the election that brought Ayodele Fayose to power as the governor of Ekiti state. It was the APC the nicknamed it stomach infrastructure. But that strategy is never new. I know in the days of NPP and NPN, stomach infrastructure was the best strategy used them.
They shared branded rice and other foodstuffs as part of campaign deliveries. Although this kind of inducement is not actually a crime, but it helps to subvert the wishes of the people by influencing their conscience to vote for favours rather than for interest.
Security Personnel Involvement
This one is troubling and distasteful. The role of security personnel during an election is to provide the needed cover for voters to cast their votes without disruptions. But we have seen security personnel constituting a nuisance and helping electoral thugs in manipulating the process. We see politicians moving around during elections with security personnel when movement should be restricted.
Also, most of ballot box snatching has been in connivance with security details of politicians or paid guns during elections. Usually, the government in power have absolute control and usage of security personnel in the favour against the opposition. We have seen it used during PDP era and now also in APC time.
Electoral Campaign Winning Ways
I have exhaustively looked at the whole rigging machine politicians are using to manipulate the electoral process. Let me also explore the enormous advantage that is possible for any serious politicians who wants to win square and fair.
Since we know the many tricks of politicians, the good guys still stand a better chance to win elections if only they know what to do. Like I have mentioned in this report, we have a deficit of over 56% of voters who didn’t vote in the 2015 elections. And at that time the number of registered voters was just 67,422,005.
Now, compare it with the current number of registered voters, which is at 84,271,832. That’s an increase of 16,849,827 voters after the 2015 elections. So, we expect more votes in the coming elections. However, the reports of uncollected voter’s card can reduce the effect of this number.
According to an INEC report, over 10 million uncollected voter’s card is still in INEC custody. That’s over 11% of registered voters. It’s also part of the reason for no-show voters. When voters don’t collect their permanent voter’s card, they are not eligible to vote during an election.
But let’s look at the strategies being adopted by politicians to win elections in a legalized way.
Personal Brand Advantage
Your campaign starts with you. What’s your own brand advantage? In politics, the candidate is the main product. Your campaign manifesto is just like a contract document. If the brand is not good enough, the contract will also be frosted with lies.
A good personal brand is your best goodwill promise to the electorate. And before you even consider contesting for an election, you should first evaluate your personal brand. You shouldn’t mistake this with celebrity brand. They are not the same. The kind of personal brand that works is that of trust, dependability, accountability and deliverability.
Don’t mind the hard words. But if truth be told, you need to prove you can be trusted. It’s even the electorate that needs to believe in your trust-ability, yet the party’s leadership; godfathers require such traits as well. The same goes for dependability.
But when it comes for the other two, accountability and deliverability, you will only be dealing with the electorate. That has actually been the case so far. The voters mistake candidates who display more wealth as evidence to deliver on the promise. And that is where the voting public makes serious electoral blunders in voting the fraudsters that had pervaded our body polity.
The best personal brand is your past and present accomplishments in and outside of government. A brand should have the capability to change the situation of the state and bring out improvements that would better the lives of the people. Anyone that can provide a better society for the people is a classy political brand. But sometimes, even an excellent brand got easily polluted in our politics in no time.
Size of Political Party Membership
Sometimes the reason good personal brands fails in politics is the political party are contesting on their platform. It doesn’t matter what good name or ideal that a party claims to represent. If it doesn’t have a sizable membership, it cannot and will not win elections in Nigeria.
Take the case of Lagos for example. The reason why APC has been stable here is derived from its membership strength. In the last primaries conducted by the party, it had over 900,000 members who voted to select their party governorship candidate in direct primaries.
And the party is boasting to secure over 2 million votes to win in the election. Although Lagos has about 6 million registered voters but going by several factors that’s an easy winning target. If the party gets 2 million votes, it can win. But that’s because it has an active membership base it can draw its strength from and mobilize to achieve it.
If you want to contest the election, first consider the party membership strength in the constituency of your interest. If they cannot win a ward election in a free and fair election, how can they succeed in an unfairly contested election? A party is nothing without sizable membership strength. It doesn’t place it as an ambitious party and as such cannot help your ambition.
Money plays a significant role in winning elections, not just in Nigeria but all over the world. As I have also mentioned severally, relating politicking to business, money is also one factor they both have in common. And without money, you cannot win an election. It doesn’t matter what anybody does or says against money politics.
It’s like those criticize the church about money. How else do you expect the church to preach the gospel on radio, television, satellite to reach the whole world as Jesus commanded it to? People will always criticize what they don’t understand.
You need money to make anything work. And politics needs a lot of it too. In the last midterm elections in the United States, one of the keenly contested senatorial positions saw the democratic senator raised over $50 million. That’s approximately N18 billion. And I don’t even know of any senator who can spend that amount in Nigeria.
The only question here is the source of the funds. And that still takes us back to another question. How many Nigerians will donate money to their chosen candidate for an election campaign? You already know the answer. If Nigerians can’t fund their candidates how do they expect them to win for them? And it’s not like there is a fixed amount sufficient to finance an election. It all depends on the strategy adopted to execute the campaign.
Grassroots Campaign and Mobilization
The most effective campaign strategy is the grassroots campaign and mobilization. Every other approach works towards this primary goal, to mobilize the grassroots. The idea that every candidate came from the grassroots makes this strategy the most effective. Everyone came from the grassroots, as every city boy also has a village.
However, much of politics happens at the grassroots, even as I have mentioned earlier that the privileged Nigerians don’t vote. It’s equally an exercise in futility to concentrate all your winning efforts on the privileged-ones while the majority votes come from the grassroots.
You need to invest in the best way to campaign and mobilize the grassroots to your advantage. When you hear about the use of stomach infrastructure that gives an idea some of the things politicians do to win the grassroots support. Although, stomach infrastructure is not entirely wrong, because it exploits on the weak among us. That’s what makes it ethically wrong.
And even though the grassroots are smaller units of the larger group, it’s usually where you are well known, either for good or evil from your past. However, some of the grassroots campaign strategies are:
a. Mega Rally Strategy
The rally approach has been in use since the sixties. It’s one of the best forms of grassroots mobilization. Politicians hold rallies in every community and ward to gainer their support and win their votes during the polls. But this strategy is also frost with challenges.
That is where most cold-hearted politicians stand in front of the poor voters and lie to them about what they will do when they get into government. Sometimes, the lies are with good intentions and sincerity of purpose. But things changes when they get into power. It’s either they lacked the full knowledge of how government functions or they lack the political will or conscience to fulfil their campaign promises.
But nonetheless, it’s a strategy that has worked over the years and still much useful in our current political structure.
b. Campaign Posters and Fliers
This strategy seems to be dying, may be due to the overbearing influence of rigging, god-fathers, mobile phones the internet and anointed candidates. Most of the time, these anointed candidates don’t have what it takes to execute election campaigns. They rely on the orders and influence of their god-fathers to win.
But fliers are still useful in the election campaign. If you are targeting smart voters, the use of leaflets will help a lot. The intelligent voters wants to know your plans if elected into office. It’s particularly useful if you are running at the counsellor, local government chairperson and state assembly levels.
The poster, on the other hand, works for any category of the candidate. The mistake some politicians make is to downgrade some strategy. In the business world, every plan is evaluated based on its return on investment. The same principle applies to any form of campaign. If you can justify the investment you put into it, then you should consider the strategy. The whole essence of a campaign is to win more votes.
c. Town Crier Strategy
The idea of a town crier is not new in politics. It’s an old concept of town hall meeting that is now modified, using the business concept of product insertion into local markets. So, it has the old town hall effects but now improved for better results. The idea is to create strong word of mouth publicity in every ward using selected members of the same ward that are respected and recognized.
Let me explain briefly how the concept of product insertion works. The idea of product insertion is to increase the market share of the brand in each of the targeted markets. And the process takes the shape of building strong distributors and retailer’s network. One or two distributors are selected from each market as the primary supply source to the demand for that particular brand. The retailers are now linked to the distributors for their supply.
The town crier strategy works in that direction as well, but with a little tweak. You recruit a chief town crier for each ward. And the ward crier is assigned to enlist others in all the villages.
Each village crier has the responsibility of mobilizing all the voters in the village, create voters register for all those in the village with voters card and is responsible for ensuring each of them votes for the candidates of the party.
This kind of strategy works best if implemented by the party and not individual candidates. The list created is collated centrally, according to the wards, constituencies, local governments, senatorial districts and states. This way the party has an active database for a grassroots campaign.
There are also other functions of the town crier, which include making regular early morning announcements with a gramophone. These announcements should consist of updates on party decisions, programs and upcoming meetings.
- Media Campaign and Mobilization
The media still remains the most excellent strategy for election campaigns. But the way Media Campaign is applied now has changed, with new media platforms controlling more traffic now than the conventional media platforms. Your drive should seek ways to implement the entire possible media platform that would help your campaign.
You need to learn how to apply the different media platforms to work for your campaign advantage. Each platform has a defined target audience. How you use the platforms will be determined by the target audience.
It’s also vital that you utilize all of them, as it adds specific advantage to your campaign.
a. Conventional Media Campaign
The traditional media platform has been used by politicians for decades now. The television, radio and newspapers are not new in a political campaign. However, you need to understand how things have changed about them to find better ways of using them.
Mostly what politicians do with conventional media is to place adverts or paid reviews. But when it comes to news for which these media platforms are designed for, they let the media decide what story is worthy. That should change. To effectively use the conventional news media to achieve an effective election campaign, you have to exploit their most potent arsenal, their news strength.
Most people use them for their news quality and coverage and not for their adverts or even reviews. If you can get into the flow of the regular daily news, you will be seen by more people than your advertorial campaign can reach.
And don’t ignore the fact that you are already a news material as a contestant in an election. Your campaign team should come up with newsworthy events around your campaign to drive the news media into publishing your content regularly without any form of inducement. And it has to be good enough to make the front page in newspapers and top stories on television and radio news hours.
b. Search Media Campaign
The search media is not being utilized by politicians at all. Although many of them have an online presence like websites, social media and even wiki profiles. But all these profiles are not optimized for top ranking Google searches.
A smart politician should seek to dominate the information space about anything. If you allow the news media and your opponents to dominate the search media with all the negative information about you, it will kill your personal brand.
Over 3 billion searches are conducted on Google daily. And some of these 3 billion searches include people searching information that relates to you. As a public figure, you should seek to control what people see and read about you anywhere on the web. And the way to do that is simple.
You know that one of the significant disadvantages of the internet is that it doesn’t forget. Anything posted online stays there for as long as those websites exist. That means you may not have control of what anybody chooses to post about you online. But you can control what people should see about you by using search engine optimization techniques to push the right information about you to the top page of Google search.
That way you push all the other junks about you down the pages, and because nobody goes down there often, they may never see them at all.
1. How to Implement Search Media Campaign
Search media is one of the rarest used strategies in the election campaign. So, it will be right for me to try and explain more deeply. The whole idea behind search media is to create relevant information about your personal brand for public consumption. It’s a digital copy of your life on the internet.
It involves everything you do that can be found and accessed online. Having the power to control such information will be good for your image. In the digital space, it’s called online reputation management. And because most of what people will find online will be through the search engine like Google, it’s essential to optimise everything about you that you want the online community to see about you.
And you can also get some information about you buried deep in the internet of things. That way nobody will find them, as many people don’t actually dig that deep for information. And it can also be deleted from the web entirely. This kind of service is a paid service handled by professionals.
2. Website and Blogs
In today’s world, a site is one tool a politician must have for the campaign. Don’t say, who is interested in my website? Some things are better done to create an impression. Moreover, you can use your site to drive donations to your campaign or recruit volunteers.
But in line with search engine optimization, a website or blog is required to help create contents that are useful for Google and can replace junks about you online. Nowadays, sites come with prebuilt blogs. That way you have two in one package that helps you project your personal brand, telling your own stories the way you want it to be read by the public.
3. Wikipedia Record File
You can also use Wikipedia instead of blogs. In fact, the option of the wiki cannot be ignored even if you have a website. Every politician needs a wiki page. And it’s also a fast way of pushing information about you on top of search pages. Although some politicians already have wiki pages, they are not fully optimized. You need to create enough information there with regular updates when necessary.
The cost of search engine optimization can be as high as $5,000 monthly, including online reputation management. And it should be done for an extended period of time to gain proper traction on the web. Don’t just pay a reputation manager for one month and ignore it. At least a minimum of six months work is required for an excellent online reputation building.
If you can’t afford that amount, go for a cheaper deal if can find. But know that cost has something to do with the quality of job delivery as well. This will help build your personal brand beyond any campaign you can do. It’s not a rush thing. You will need to start years ahead of election year. It’s slow to grow but beneficial when done well.
4. Social Media Campaign
The use of social media in politics is immense in Nigeria. What is actually not right in the form of usage. For most politicians, it’s used to preach about their candidacy. That’s not really going to be impactful. Remember, it’s called social media. It’s not the same as the news media. Don’t use it the same way.
If there is anything you should be doing on social media, it’s to demystify yourself. People what to know the real you and not the one the news media has been embellishing. The people would want to see how you live daily. What you are doing and who you are with each day or as much private life as you can post to online.
It’s called social media for a reason. It’s meant to be sociable. And you are going to elicit much appreciation. Don’t try to politicize your social media account. Instead, use it to respond to personal criticism and attacks from political opponents.
If you have observed how president Trump has used Twitter, he gained more followers because even the media get news from the president more on Twitter than regular media. That way people know where to get any important news coming from you, and they won’t believe the lies of the press unless they can read it from your social media page.
5. Social Media Online Group
The online groups are also helpful for an election campaign. You can create public groups for your supporters. It will help to feed loyal followers with information and share digital materials to enable them broadcast to their online contacts.
Effective use of this group can help increase candidates electoral value. Think of Facebook groups as a critical factor in spreading news faster about your campaign. Every candidate has loyal fans, whether those who are genuinely committed to the aspiration or just for monetary gain. Using these groups will help mobilise them with the right content, images and videos to share with their own contacts.
The power of this group is seen in the extended power of each member of the group. Every Facebook user is connected online to their family members, village people, friends and colleagues.
This kind of connection is the most reliable link every politician needs to reach with their electoral messages. Having a healthy and vibrant online group will give you quick access to these people through their connected family members.
The power of the group can be explained in numbers. Assuming there are one thousand group members. And each of the members of the group has an average of one thousand people connected through their Facebook account; which gives you access to one million people that you can reach through the one thousand members of your group.
But the massive benefit of the group is that these one million reach is a targeted group of people who one way or another is beneficial to your cause.
You need a better way to implement groups, recruit helpful supporters and manage the works of your campaign. You can have Fastweb Internet Services help you set up and achieve your online groups.
6. WhatsApp Campaign Group
The use of WhatsApp group for politician campaign is another tool that works. But the user should be with caution. Understanding the different platforms and how it benefits your campaign is equally critical to your campaign success. WhatsApp is not a mass media platform. It’s a peer to peer communication medium.
Trying to add everybody into a WhatsApp group without knowing if it’s a cause they believe in can work against your campaign. The WhatsApp group should be for your campaign team and anyone who needs to be updated instantly whenever there is information about your campaign. You don’t want to be sharing relevant information with strangers or those who don’t want to be a part of it.
Also, if people are not happy that they were added to the group, it will breed animosity, and as they leave the group, they also prompt others to exit the group as well. That in itself is a defeatist agenda.
The best way to use WhatsApp is to create small groups of your core followers from different zones. It may be from each ward, depending on your political aspiration. And only a known follower is added to the groups. And each group will have a leader. All the leaders of each WhatsApp group will now be combined in a group which will be headed by your campaign team. As information is shared here, they are required to share in their respective groups.
And if you adopted the town crier method, then each ward and village crier can create their own groups and add all the people they have recruited in the respective wards and villages. Never make a mistake of creating a group and adding people who didn’t subscribe to your campaign.
7. Email Campaign Strategy
An email campaign is not new, but it’s rarely used by politicians. It may be the advantage it’s not known or understood. There are Nigerians you can only reach through email. And when we talk about different campaign strategies, it’s not to multiply the different ways to campaign but to show you what can bring in more additional votes if you aren’t using it yet.
There is millions of Nigerian email address to email with your campaign messages. This represents Nigerians from all works of life. The students, civil servants, traders, business owners, etcetera. The email gives you an opportunity to sell your manifesto to the public and mobilise voters to your aspiration to lead them.
While email may be useful, it should be used when contesting for certain political offices, like national offices, the governorship and presidential campaigns.
Email campaign gives you access to a large number of voters without political parties or affiliation. It’s usually where you meet the no-show voters. It gives you access to voters that your competitors may not be reaching. It also provides room for feedback, which is vital to shaping your campaign vision.
8. Mobile Campaign Strategy
Mobile is now the fastest and most extensive reaching political campaign strategy. The beauty of mobile is that it gets to each voter directly and personally. And you can reach millions of voters within 3 minutes. That’s the fastest you can plan any campaign and execute it.
Think about it, if you want to reach all the 84 million registered voters, you can do that in just 3 minutes. That’s the fastest medium and also the broadest reach of any campaign strategy. But it has not been well utilised over the years.
One of the methods of using mobile campaign is through sending bulk text messages (SMS). These messages can be sent to millions of predefined mobile numbers at the same time. Already, some politicians have been using this platform for years now.
The other mobile campaign method is voice call messaging or robocall. This strategy works like dialling a phone and talking to the voters directly in your own voice. It has such tremendous impact when used.
1. How to Implement SMS Campaign
SMS campaign is the easiest and fastest to implement. All you need is an SMS platform and phone contacts of the target voters you want to reach. Once you broadcast the message, it’s delivered instantly. It takes as little as 3 minutes to get SMS campaign messages addressed to the target recipients.
However, this form of a campaign has little challenges. SMS prices are controlled by the delivery speed. It’s essential as well because sent SMS will expire after 48 hours if not successfully delivered. If you send high volume SMS, you will require a fast delivery platform to achieve a high success rate, and that would cost you more than the cheap SMS rates you might see being advertised. Those cheap offers work best for smaller volumes.
For instance, if you want to send 10 million text messages, if you subscribe to a company that doesn’t have the capacity for high traffic delivery, it might take months to get that ten million delivered.
SMS delivery is measured by the number of messages it can deliver per second. Imagine if a platform can only carry 300 text messages by the second, that’s 18,000 deliveries per minute and 1,080,000 deliveries per hour. The faster the delivery success is achieved, the higher the cost of per SMS campaign message.
That also means if you pay for cheaper SMS campaign it takes a much longer time for the messages to be delivered. The bank alert is a good example. When you perform a transaction, the SMS alert comes instantly. The only thing that can delay the instant delivery may be your GSM network or the service strength of your current location or your mobile device. But from the SMS company, the alert leaves instantly. That’s how fast the right SMS campaign should work as well.
2. How to Implement Voice Call/Robocall Campaign
The fact that voters can be reached through their mobile phones give any candidate the power to reach out to voters using the voice call technology. The only challenge has been being able to call thousands or millions of voters.
However, the impact of voice call supersedes all other forms of the campaign. The fact that voters would hear the voice of the candidate is a big shakeup for many voters. You should not disregard the psychological impact it has on the voters when they can listen to from the president or governor or a candidate they admire and ‘worship’.
Interestingly, as technology improved, Robocall made it possible for politicians to reach millions of voters through a voice call. It works by recording the voice message of the candidate which is then pushed to mobile phones of the voters through dialed call technology. As each voter answered the call the prerecorded message on the voice of the candidate is played to them.
This strategy can invoke word of mouth publicity for your campaign and win more voters than any other means of the campaign. Apart from reaching millions of voters, it creates a sense of love that their candidate can call them directly on their phones.
For Nigeria to begin to change, it must first get its politics right. It cannot begin to elect better leaders without first rewriting all the electoral errors of the past. And if we elect leaders through criminal process, those leaders will produce criminal results.
Furthermore, the young people that wants to govern the country must also reeducate themselves. Every country gets the kind of leadership it deserves. If you want to elect good leaders we must begin to produce good citizens. Because out of the people we are will our leaders emerge from.
The strategies described in this report are based on what has been used in Nigerian politics. My humble self, Chinedu David produced this report for Fastweb Internet Services – to give insight to young and upcoming politicians who may want to know how to win elections in the country. But the ideas can also be implemented by matured politicians.