Another election is around the corner, and politicians, especially candidates seeking elective positions, have been adopting different tactics to woo the electorate and garner huge votes at the polls.
Nigerians will on Saturday go out to their various polling units for the second part of the 2023 general elections to elect state governors and members of state houses of assembly.
This comes with a lot of tension, as the political structures and dynamics in many states have shifted, especially with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) losing presidential elections in some states where the incumbent government is the ruling party.
So, publicity stunts that are not new in Nigerian politics especially in virtual space, have increasingly become tools used by politicians to draw attention.
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Very often politicians need as much publicity as possible so they can maximise it to their advantage.
In no particular order, Daily Trust identifies some occasions politicians have employed these tactics. Although they would claim to have embarked on the acts without any string attached, many Nigerians and even analysts believe otherwise.
In January, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, hugged media headlines when he briefly halted his convoy to interact with two underage girls on an errand during school hours.
Report said that the girls – Amarachi Chinedu, 9, and Suwebat Husseini, 12 – were forced to skip school by their parents in order to serve some domestic assistance around the Anthony Village area in Lagos.
Pictures published in major newspapers and social media pages showed an emotive Sanwo-Olu barely hiding his “shock” in his interactions with the girls.
“My encounter with them gave me the opportunity to hear their stories and I have taken it upon myself to ensure that these girls never suffer such fate again. I am not going to leave them alone,” the governor was later quoted to have said.
Sanwo-Olu’s encounter has been widely met with condemnation and acceptance from different quarters, with many insinuating that it was a campaign strategy ahead of the 2023 electioneering.
But as the heat of the governorship election draws nearer, the Lagos state governor has been seen in more viral photos on social media in more dramatic poses.
One of those viral photos showed the Lagos governor fixing a lady’s hair. The governor was seen stretching the lady’s hair while the stylist watched in awe. Although the pictures first appeared in the buildup to the 2019 general elections when Sanwo-Olu was seeking first term, they resurfaced a few days ago.
Another old photo currently making the rounds on social media also showed Sanwo-Olu fixing a car at a mechanic workshop, which has aroused mixed reactions.
The photo is viral on social media with the narrative that Sanwo-Olu, who is seeking reelection into the office, went to the mechanic workshop recently so he could earn the artisans’ votes. How the photos were taken about two months to the 2019 general elections.
But the Lagos governor is not the first person to be seen in such viral photos or videos that many Nigerians find dramatic.
There was also a picture of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on social media platforms, eating with children at an internally displaced persons’ camp.
In the picture, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate of the recently concluded 2023 elections was seen on a plastic chair amidst the children, holding a plate of rice and sachet water. He was captured as he made to put the spoon in his mouth.
The picture was widely shared by his supporters to indicate his compassion for the plight of poor Nigerians.
Then vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2015 presidential election, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, ahead of the year’s general elections, was spotted among commuters inside Lagos popular transit buses (BRT).
Osinbajo told the passengers that the country needed a man of integrity in the mold of the APC Presidential candidate who can end corruption in the country.
Osinbajo, who joined passengers in the BRT bus from the Tafawa Balewa Square to Barracks area of Lagos, urged Nigerians to vote for Buhari, saying the former military head of state was the only one that can curb corruption in the country.
He said he would utilise “unusual opportunities to reach out to Nigerians on the need to vote out the PDP.”
Osinbajo said, “Every Nigerian knows that Maj. Gen. Buhari is a no-nonsense person. He is going to make changes that would turn Nigeria around for the better. Remember that the APC is the party of change. Collect your PVC and ensure that you vote for the APC.”
In 2016, a picture emerged of former Senator Dino Melaye with a tray of groundnuts on his head like someone hawking on the street.
The background view of the picture showed he took the picture at a residential neighbourhood.
When some people attacked him for attempting to deceive the people, Melaye was quoted as saying he used to hawk as a youth, and he was just trying to bring back the memories.
Also in March 2015, ahead of the general elections, a photo of Aisha Buhari, wife of the then presidential candidate of the APC was seen helping a woman fry akara (bean cake) by the roadside.
The photo which instantly went viral, ganered different reactions from Nigerians, and was particularly shared by the supporters of the Muhammdu Buhari who was running for the fourth time at the time.
Shortly after obtaining his presidential expression of interest forms in April 2022, the picture of former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, devouring a plate of Amala at a bukateria in Abuja went viral.
But the picture wasn’t the first in which the former governor was seen eating at local eateries. The politician had been known for his regular publicly eating of Amala as one of his usual ways of ‘identifying with the people.’
In 2017, however, a picture of Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom governor emerged online where he was ‘pricing’ gari, okro and crayfish at an open marketplace.
And in another picture in 2018, he was seen buying pears from a seller by the roadside at Ikot Etobo.