2023: Kukah, Lawan, others seek issue-based campaigns
Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, as well as House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, in Abuja, reviewed the growing political tension in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections and charged political actors to refrain from actions and utterances capable of jeopardising the unity of the country.
They gave the charge at a political summit organised by Prof. Sulaiman Abubakar-led National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), in partnership with The Kukah Centre.
They urged all political actors, especially presidential candidates, to focus on issue-based campaigns as the nation ushers in the electioneering season.
Kukah noted: “Our diversity as a people has not been well managed. Politicians must answer questions on what they want to be known for. Nigeria has produced some very dramatic politicians. Politicians and candidates, beyond telling us about fighting corruption, must come up with pragmatic solutions to our problems.
He said the issue that should form the basis for the next election must be outlined, adding that they should not be talking about Muslim-Muslim ticket or ethnicity.
“We’ve passed the Electoral Bill. That’s just the beginning. We need to convince Nigerians that their votes will count. You can tell Nigerians about the Electoral Act. But they need to be sure. We don’t need a messiah as Nigeria’s next president,” Kukah stressed.
In his comments, the Senate President told politicians to be conscious of their messages and focus on issue-based campaign that shuns violence and hate speech. He decried the extreme and prejudicial dimensions that political conversations had assumed in the last few weeks.
“Rather than emphasise discussion on policy positions to address many of the social and economic challenges we face, we are engaged in frivolous, illogical and sensational exchanges.
“For the first time since 1999, our campaigns have moved from substantive issues to inconsequential and sometimes vile vituperations.
“We have shifted our focus from the core issues of governance to irrelevant and frankly nonsensical attacks on the personalities of the various candidates.
“By so doing, we, the politicians, have once again distracted Nigerians from assessing those who seek political office based on the merit of their positions.”
Gbajabiamila, in his address, said: “Regrettably, some of the key provisions of the Electoral Act with regards to political campaigns, as well as the provisions in INEC’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, are already being violated, particularly the use of intemperate, slanderous and base language, as well as insinuations or innuendoes that are clearly targeted at provoking violent reactions or emotions.”
“It is easy to hurl insults at opponents, but it takes discipline, focus and political maturity to make our campaigns issue-based. Yet, this is the least that we owe our citizens. It amounts to a great disservice and even a disconnect from the grim realities of Nigerians’ challenges, focusing on frivolous and inconsequential issues.”