MUYIWA OYINLOLA in this report takes a look at issues that dominated the recently held PDP presidential primary and how such issue-based campaigns can enliven the political atmosphere as the nation moves towards the 2019 general elections
One of the sinister issues the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) moved against the moment it came to power in May, 2015, was hate speech.
This is perhaps understandable as hate speech nearly set the country ablaze during the campaigns for the 2015 general elections.
There were name callings, mud slinging, and in some cases, outright abuses, frontal attacks and character assassination. Hence, no responsible government would allow such sinister monster to trend.
Political campaigns rather than been hinged on hate speech should be based on developmental and progressive issues.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must have taken a queue from the misfortune of recent past and its president aspirants who converged weekend for the parties presidential primary based their campaigns on developmental issues that can unite the country.
Prior to the Port Harcourt convention, a number of the aspirants including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, crisscrossed the length and breadth of the country marketing themselves and presenting their agenda not only to party delegates but also to Nigerians at large.
While Atiku based his campaign on the need to restructure the country, among others, Saraki anchored his on his plan to grow Nigeria, if elected president.
Right from late August when he announced his decision to run, he defined his campaign on the need to #Let’s Grow Nigeria.
According to Saraki, the country needs to grow her economy, politics, social security system, infrastructure and security architecture.
The concept of growth, according to him is just as strong as the past ones like the Americans have New Deal under FDR, Contract with America etc.
The use of a slogan that captures the present situation as Saraki did, according to pundits shows something unique and fantastic about his campaign.
In many gathering today, the phrase is now effectively emblazoned on t-shirts, fez cap, and note pads.
It also looks hood on banners, posters, bill boards and the mobike bill boards. The multi-media use of the theme portrays the Saraki team as the most intellectual among the group.
Furthermore, it gave colour to the Saraki campaign. It gave class and panache to the campaigns.
In his inaugural campaign speech, the lawmaker noted that: “My plan for Nigeria has inclusion in all aspects of the country’s affairs as a central pillar. I am determined to grow Nigeria out of poverty.’
“For youth who have ideas and capacity, we will make sure that there is funding for their ventures, and we shall build on the Made-in-Nigeria legislation as part of our job-creation drive. I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for president.
“Nigerian youth will be given all the opportunities to realise their potential to the full within a national framework that guarantees inclusiveness. We will not be indifferent or turn a blind eye to the real concerns of our people – every single Nigerian life matters.
“As a former two-term governor and currently President of the Senate, by the grace of God, I believe I possess a unique blend of executive and legislative experience to push for and implement reforms. You can benchmark us and hold us accountable. In short, I assure you that I will deliver on all promises. “I believe the Nigerian youth are critical to re-building and growing the economy, and restoring our national pride.
“Nigerians are crying out for succour everywhere; many of our children are hungry. Many people are dying of avoidable or otherwise treatable diseases.
“We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block-by-block, with dedication and commitment.”
Whereas Saraki came third in the presidential primary, he agreed to work with Atiku, who topped every other aspirant in the race.
Whereas Saraki has been commended in many quarters for running issue-based campaigns as he moved round the country in his bid to get the party’s ticket, one point that counted against him is that he was a late starter. He joined the race barely two months ago, after his return from the APC to the party.
It was also a miracle that he got up to 317 votes, because of the series of distractions in form of litigations and impeachment threat that he suffered.
LEADERSHIP recalls that he suffered frequent distraction from the Presidency and APC, the ruling party that never wanted him to emerge against Buhari.
According to pundits, this is Saraki’s first time in managing a presidential and national elections. He does not have unlimited resources as Atiku and Tambuwal who was financially supported by a governor in one of the oil rich states.
In the same vein, Saraki’s North-Central was also not supported by the rest of the North in the just concluded exercise.
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