2023: Electoral Hub calls for inclusive, peaceful, policy-based campaigns

…Urges EFCC, ICPC,  to effectively monitor, track campaign spending

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Executive Director, Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels has called on political parties and their candidates to ensure inclusive, peaceful and issue-based campaigns towards the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

Hamman-Obels who made this known in a statement on Monday, pointed out that the 2023 general election is scheduled to hold on February 25, 2023, and end on March 11, 2023, as she recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially lifted the campaign restrictions on 28 September 2022.

She stressed that the campaign kick-off brings certain important issues to the fore, which include; Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC Guideline for Political Rallies and Campaigns,  Inclusive Campaign for Youths, Women, PWDs, and Policy-Based Campaign

She pointed out that INEC under the law is exclusively saddled with the responsibility of regulating Election Campaigns in Nigeria.

According to her, the INEC guideline for political rallies and campaigns by political parties, candidates, and their supporters is issued pursuant to Electoral Act 2022, Section 95(1): “A candidate and his or her party shall campaign for the elections in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be determined by the Commission”.

Hamman-Obels stressed that an inclusive campaign is the hallmark of democracy, adding that the inclusion of women, youths, and PWDs in campaign consideration will not only help deepen the country’s democracy but also ensure that political parties tap into these electoral bases.   

She also noted that  the Nigerian political scene is coming of age and should reflect the same in character and process of campaigns, particularly considering the ethnic, and religious fault lines in the country.

She said,”As the campaign begins, we call on political parties and candidates to jettison mudslinging and ethno-religious campaigns and focus on issues critical to our common patrimony. Section 97 of the Electoral Act stipulates that anybody or association that engages in campaigning or broadcast based on religion, tribal or sectional reasons for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular candidate or party commits an offence and is liable to conviction.

“During this campaign period, The Electoral Hub calls on the different electoral stakeholders as follows:”Candidates/Political parties should comply with all legal provisions in relation to campaigns.

“Focus on and conduct policy-based campaigns targeting real pertinent issues bedeviling the country such as wealth creation and distribution, securing lives and properties, etc.

“Ensure messages are inclusive, not inciting, peaceful, and policy-based.

“Be transparent and accountable in their spending as provided by the law.”

Hamman-Obels urged the media toencourage  policy-based campaigns, and discourage personal attacks, polarizing, hate speeches, etc.

She added that the media should spotlight more on policy-based campaigns from candidates and parties, and sensitize the public on a violence-free campaign.

The Human Rights Activist called on anti-corruption agencies and accountability agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC, NHRC, and NBC to be fully involved in the campaigning period.

“EFCC and ICPC should be fully involved in the campaigning period.

“EFCC and ICPC, should effectively monitor and track campaign spending.

“Police, EFCC, and ICPC should arrest and prosecute electoral offenders.

“The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) Should monitor, track, and sanction human rights violations.

“The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) should monitor adverts and hate speech and provide necessary sanctions were necessary.

“The banks should track illicit funds and report them appropriately to Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),” she stated

She urged the civil society organisations to advocate for violence-free and policy-based campaigns, track and monitor campaign, monitor misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech and report offenders accordingly.

She advised the electorates to shun every form of violence, detest inciting violence and conflicts through hate speech and cyber-bullying, and not engage in spreading fake news.