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A season of political campaign copycats, creative copies

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[FILE PHOTO] Atiku Abubakar

“Are you Atikulated?” A young man asks. “No. I’m Buharideen,” another answers. “Mind you, this is the month of FeBuhari.”

A casual observer would wonder what these catch-phrases mean, especially in a period charged with political uncertainty, as 2019 general elections draw near. Well, they are playing on the names of the two leading candidates in the February 16, 2019 presidential elections.

No doubt, political campaigns in Nigeria have taken a shift owing to social media, which has given a voice to every Nigerian to create or craft symbols around the candidate of their choice. Slogans and symbols in marketing are considered effective ways of attracting and retaining the attention of target consumers, in this case, voters. In Nigeria, however, most political mantras or symbols are digressive, just mere mumbo jumbo with no clear messages.

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For instance, what positive message does Atikulate convey to an average voter and what emotion does it activate when Atiku Abubakar’s supporters and loyalists pose the question: Are you Atikulated? On the flip side, ‘I Stand with Atiku’ is considered to activate stronger emotions, because it is a pledge of support to Atiku in his quest to becoming Nigeria’s next president.

What about the Buharism or Buharideen concept? These sound extremely fanatical. As defined by Mr. Dele Momodu, “A Buharist is a mild and reasonable supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari while a Buharideen is a blind and rabid supporter of Buhari.”

A close look at Nigeria’s two leading political parties’ campaign slogans indicates that both their campaign managers and supporters have adopted this style to ingrain messages in the minds of voters. In fact, most of them are rather hilarious than catchy, some have argued.

A political message aimed at convincing a constituent to vote for a particular politician entails marketing the leadership and the qualities that would provide solutions to identified challenges, common issues or causes to the electorate. The message must be crafted in such a way that it represents the vision and mission of the political subject.

In other climes, United States, to be precise, during former president Barrack Obama’s campaign, they crafted the ‘Yes, We Can’ slogan, which suggested that a black president was possible, with promises of a better future for all. Also, Donald Trump, through his ‘America First’ agenda, brought to bear the undercurrents of discontent in rural America against foreigners.

Incidentally, PDP candidate, Atiku is likened to Trump; he is a multi-millionaire who literarily turned straw into gold by pulling himself up by his bootstraps after being orphaned at infancy. Most slogans by Nigerian politicians have no underlying philosophical base. In fact, it could be said that they lack originality. Which could mean that they do not always take the electorate seriously, as they almost do not always fulfill electoral promises.

Apart from the ‘Change’ mantra used by All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2015 to sail into Aso Rock Villa, and which turned out a huge fiasco, the current political parties, including the APC, in the ongoing campaigns, have couched no impactful and catchy slogan.

Many have argued that the current APC slogan of ‘Next Level’ is meaningless, unimaginative, with some already interpreting it as the next level of hardship, more loss of lives to Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen onslaught, loss of jobs, visionless leadership, which prioritises anti-corruption fight over providing essential living conditions for Nigerians. The slogan is also said to be plagiarised.

Similarly, many have expressed concerns whether the Atikulated slogan coined from PDP’s presidential candidate’s first name, ‘Atiku,’ conveys the determination of the PDP and its candidate to rescue Nigeria from economic decay and strangulation.

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Drawing from the hilarious campaign materials on social media, ardent supporters of Buhari and Atiku would stop at nothing to copycat or even be creative, and bombard the space with all manners of materials as campaign messages.

For instance, some Atiku supporters say the broom, which is the symbol of APC party, is not useful during the rainy season, and that the umbrella is an appropriate item for all seasons. Another post by Buhari supporters goes, ‘vote Febuhari,’ while the opposition counters with ‘Failbuhari’.

National convener of Abegshift Naija cum #AbegShiftForAtiku, one of the groups independently canvassing for supports and votes for the candidate for Atiku, Kasham Keltuma, on the reasons Buhari must be voted out by Nigerians and ‘How Atiku as a President Can Get Nigeria Working Again #GNWA.’

According to her, “Abegshift is a political platform where politically inclined persons and intellectuals come together as a group to collectively promote the emergence of PDP to victory in 2019 elections and beyond.”


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