October 5, 2022


The Center for Research on Development of African Media, Governance and Society (CEREDEMS-Africa) and Positive Agenda Nigeria (PAN) have formally launched a project to discourage the promotion of toxic electoral campaigns during the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
The immediate past president of the Association of Communication Scholars and Practitioners of Nigeria (ACSPN), Professor Lai Oso who joined the duo of Dr Sadia Jamil and Dr Greg Simons to unveil the project at an online event, expressed optimism that it will advance scholarship and deepen democratic process not only in Nigeria but Africa.
While speaking on the theme of the programme: “Reconstructing Nigeria’s Election Campaign Atmosphere in a Time of Conflicting National Unity and Information Pollution”, Professor Oso counselled political actors to purge themselves of the divisive characteristics inherited from colonial rule.
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“The root of election campaigns in Nigeria was actually established during the colonial days as colonialism, through the process of indirect and direct rules between the North and South, created a country of uneven development, where the educated political elites were composed according to their ethnic identities.
“Some of the features that we now see were really established by colonialism during those periods and those features are still there. They form the context with which election campaigns are conducted in Nigeria right from the colonial period. These features were inherent in the country’s social structure, multicultural makeup, and uneven development.
“Some of these features include ethnoreligious and regional differences/orientation, trying to amplify differences between the various ethnic groups, the region and even religion. These are some of the weapons that were used.
“We run a multi-party system based on ethnic/regional divide. Though you can see that some (political) parties might be dominant but we run a multi-party system and these parties are more or less based on ethnic identities, particularly during the first Republic.

“The media in Nigeria are owned by the government and politicians who are also businessmen, and this has a lot of implications for media coverage of politics and election campaigns.
“Then, there is the issue of violence and do-or-die nature of political competition as there is a high level of contestation and lack of consensus on basic issues. And some of these contestations can be very bitter among the various political actors.
“For what we see now, there are no ideological differences among the major contending political parties unlike in the first Republic where you see ideological orientation among the parties.
Professor Oso who was the former dean of the Lagos State University School of Communication argued that the contextual factors gave politics and election campaigns in Nigeria their distinctive features.
He highlighted the factors as including the dissemination of primordial and cultural symbols for political recruitment and mobilisation; the weaponisation of ethnicity and religion for political campaigns; the use of the media as a captive instrument for political/election campaigns; and acrimonious, cantankerous and voluble political debates and exchanges among political actors, and supporters.
In their separate speeches, Dr Greg Simons and Dr Sadial Jamil narrated the experiences of how America, Russia, Sweden and Pakistan have experimented with democracies and highlighted the lessons Nigeria can learn from them.
While Dr Simons spoke on “Contextualising and localising foreign lessons learned from election campaigns in times of crises”, Dr Sadia delivered a speech on “Choosing the right candidates from a toxic election campaign environment: How voters should navigate the terrain.”
In his own address, the executive director of Media Career Development, Mr Lekan Otufodunrin identified the solutions to toxic political campaigns and information pollution.
Dr Greg Simons, an associate professor at Uppsala University, Sweden and Dr Sadia Jamil, chair of the Journalism Research and Education Section, International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) described the project as timely and look forward to its replication in other democracies of the world.
Earlier, the executive director of CEREDEMS-Africa, Dr Mustapha Muhammad Jamiu said the project is tagged: “Improving Credible General Elections in Nigeria through Real-Time Monitoring of Campaigns in Physical and Virtual Platforms during the 2023 General Elections”.
Dr Mustapha said the project was initiated by realising that while elections play a vital role in the process of democracy, so campaign for the elections and information management of the campaigns. These are three key parts of our project. Election, campaign, and information to realise a governmental system for a developed society are the main tenets of CEREDEMS-Africa.
“We are here today to witness a kick start of a developmental journey through a developed media, governance and a better society for Africa. We are also here to learn, reflect, and digest the possible ways to achieve a free, fair and credible election in 2023,” he said.

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