Ahead of the 2023 General Elections, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, near Jos, has urged the nation’s political parties to explore opportunities in the media, especially social media for voter mobilisation and membership drive.
The Acting Director-General of the institute, Brig-Gen. Chukwuemeka Udaya, gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja, at a workshop titled “Enhancing Political Parties Visibility in social and Mainstream Media”.
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The Workshop was organised by the Political Parties’ Leadership and Policy Development Centre (PPLPDC), in collaboration with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism and BBC Media Action.
Udaya, represented by NIPSS Director of Research, Prof. Pam Dung Sha, said the media, both mainstream and social media, are important instrument for parties in recruiting members and of sharing ideas of national and international importance.
He noted that at the moment, few political parties were taking advantages of social media in spite of the opportunities for election strategies and voters’ mobilisation.
He said, “Media has become a strategic choice of communication for political engagement globally, most especially during election campaigns. The role which social media played during the 2015 and 2019 General Elections in Nigeria was remarkable.
“Evidence from Baseline studies by the political Parties’ Leadership and Policy Development Centre of NIPSS in 2018 indicated that most political parties in Nigeria were not very effective in the use of social and mainstream media to enhance their visibility.
“This indeed deprived and are still depriving them of the great opportunity to recruit members as well as adequately engaged with the electorates on critical issues of governance and national development.”
He added that the workshop organised for national publicity secretaries and ICT/social media desk officers of political parties, was designed as part of ways to generally strengthen political parties and the party system in the country.
On his part, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, media and security agencies played key roles on how elections were conducted in Nigeria.
He advised parties to be conscious of the fact that while social media was easy to use and cost effective, it could also be misused especially for fake news.
He said while both the social and mainstream media have their challenges, there a need for political parties to balance the usages and contents.
Also, Senior Election Expert, with ECES, Dr Isiaka Yahaya, said the workshop was to expose political parties’ officers to the benefits of using the social media to project their activities.
He said, “The world is fast changing. We are moving away from traditional media to social media and the political parties which are trying to mobilise members cannot afford to neglect this in projecting their activities and programmes.”