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Scholars investigate ‘communication misuse’ in 2019 elections


Stickers for ballot boxes are seen during the electoral preparation at a local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria, on February 22, 2019, a day before postponed voting day. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

With the outcome of the 2019 presidential election still the subject of litigations at the election petitions tribunal, a tripartite partnership has adopted an integrated mixed methods research approach to investigate the uses and misuses of communication in Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election campaign.

The multi-layered research termed ‘Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Election Research Project (NPERP)’, interrogates the varied activities of media practitioners, politicians, political parties, and political action groups during the election campaign period.

The research is a joint initiative of North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, USA, and ORBICOM, the Global Network of International Communication Professors and Practitioners, which is a UNESCO think tank with headquarters at the University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada, while the Nigerian partner is C&F Porter Novelli.


Triggered by the growing local and international interest in Nigerian politics and communication, the three organizations designed a comprehensive integrated mixed methods communication research that combines quantitative and qualitative approaches of content analysis, ethnographic content analysis, critical analysis, critical incident analysis, in-depth personal interviews, and sample surveys, among others.

To this end, the organizations recently organized a series of training workshops at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos; the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; and the National Press Council, Abuja.

In a communiqué made available to The Guardian, they noted that while the focus was on the various mixed-method approaches that have been selected for use in the study of the 2019 presidential campaign, participants were exposed to a wide range of topics such as leadership paradigms, distributed leadership, servant leadership, grant and proposal writing, fundraising for research projects, secondary data analysis, action research, and research communication.

The participants represent the sub-teams of the project, which are Print, Radio, Television, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, Sample Survey, and Data Mining.

The workshop focused on developing the capacity of the research participants who will expectedly be proficient with techniques of quantitative and qualitative data collection, coding, analysis, and reporting.


Former Registrar, Advertising Practitioners Council Of Nigeria (APCON), Professor Charles Okigbo, was the main facilitator at the three training events in Lagos, Awka, and Abuja. Okigbo who is now Strategic Communication Research Team Leader at North Dakota State University was assisted by mass communication teachers and graduate students at UNILAG and UNIZIK, as well as some of the senior staff of the National Press Council in Abuja.

According to Okigbo “integrated mixed methods fit well with the 2019 election research project’s focus on the nature of coverage provided by newspapers, radio, television, and social media, as well as the advertising and public relations strategies and tactics of the two major political parties.”

He said an important aspect of the project is the examination of journalists’ and voters’ perceptions of the campaign and the possible influence of communication in the electoral outcomes.

The professor asserted that the coverage of campaign by the media is attracting more enduring attention from local and international research organizations which are interested in Nigeria’s ever-increasing political, economic and communication profiles.

Okigbo expressed optimism that integrated mixed methods research approaches would develop deep roots in the mass communication programmes of Nigerian universities and colleges of technology, as well as the offices of communication consultants.

He explained, “integrated mixed methods should not mean simply using any available quantitative and qualitative methods but must incorporate purposively choosing specific quantitative and qualitative methods because of their fit with the research questions and objectives.”

Also, Head of the Department of Mass Communication, UNILAG, Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, affirmed that the training was an opportunity to learn how to use quantitative and qualitative data to properly assess the role of the media and communication in the past Nigerian presidential election.

Ogwezzy-Ndisika and her group are assembling all the print ads and broadcast commercials, as well as online displays, banners, posters, and out-of-home ads that were used by the two major political parties, their agents, supporters, and political action groups. The group is also interested in the engagement and performance of foreign advertising and public relations agents in the election campaign processes.

Among the participants at the UNILAG training were Dr. Fassy Tokunbo Yusuf, Teaching Fellow in Public Relations, Dr. Charles Chiedu Onwuali, Dr. Olubunmi Ajibade, Dr. Tayo Popoola, Dr. Taiwo Akinyemi, Dr. Theresa Amobi, and Mrs Nkechi Alli-Balogun, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.

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