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2023: Five things to expect as campaign season begins

As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to blow the whistle on Wednesday for the commencement of campaigns by political parties ahead of…

As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to blow the whistle on Wednesday for the commencement of campaigns by political parties ahead of the 2023 general elections, candidates have begun mobilisation.

The electoral body has fixed September 28 for the commencement of electioneering for the presidential and National Assembly elections.

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According to INEC, the commencement of campaigns is 9th in its 14-item agenda for implementation toward the 2023 elections.

Eighteen political parties have fielded candidates for the presidential election, slated for February 25, 2023.

Daily Trust highlights five things that will dominate the campaign season which will last for months.

Stampede

A mammoth crowd associated with campaign rallies usually results in a stampede which may lead to serious injuries or even loss of lives in some cases.

This occurred during a campaign rally in the last 2019 general elections at stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when the crowd surged towards a gate after President Buhari Muhammadu’s speech. Buhari was seeking re-election at the time. At least 15 persons reportedly died in the incident.

Most of the victims were said to have fallen and been trampled on as the crowd tried to force its way through a partially locked gate to follow Buhari while he was leaving the arena.

Similar incident happened when massive supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, arrived in Kano for campaign in 2019.

The turnout was unprecedented in the 2019 presidential rallies as crowd filled up the Sani Abacha stadium and roads leading to it. Eight persons slumped and were rushed to hospital due to overcrowding at the campaign venue.

Politicians throwing jibes at opponents

Although it has always been the style with previous campaigns, politicians engage in campaign of calumny and name-calling at an alarming rate in Nigeria.

In the previous elections, politicians who belong to various political parties traded words and many argue that 2023 elections will not be any different.

However, ahead of commencement of campaigns, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said he would not exchange insults with other political parties.

Sharing of money to party supporters

Daily Trust reports that top chieftains of parties, campaign committee members, political actors and pundits have predicted that the campaign spending of 2023 would be higher than that of 2019, in view of the high stakes and price fluctuations due to inflation.

It is expected that the candidates would visit each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to promote themselves. Aside from canvassing votes from Nigerians through rhetoric, politicians over the years have also dolled out cash to win massive support.

Pickpocket

Pickpocket is one of the ugly sides of campaign season. It will  have a field in rallies as people mingle freely with one another.

Criminals would take advantage of the huge crowds to position themselves in strategic places and swing into action at any slight opportunity.

Various police reports have indicated incidences of stealing of mobile phones, cash and other valuables on the campaign grounds.

During the PDP convention, police arrested 10 pickpockets in Abuja, A police officer, Insp. Maina Gambo said that most of the suspects were arrested after they were caught red-handed by their victims.

Gridlock

There is also heavy road traffic whenever during political campaigns, especially in city centres. States like Lagos that is ordinarily notorious for perennial traffic jam will be worst hit during campaigns.

What law says

Section 88 (2) of the 2022 Electoral Act pegs the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election at N5billion, while subsection (9) of the same provision stipulates that a candidate who knowingly acts in contravention of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of 1 per cent of the amount permitted as the limit of campaign expenditure under this Act or imprisonment for a term, not more than 12 months, or both.

Speaking at an event organised by European Union (EU) and DAI on Monday, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoood Yakubu, urged all the registered parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the constitution, Electoral Act, Police Act and Public Order Act for proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.

Yakubu, who was represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, said, “A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.

“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.