The Consortium of Nigerian Communication Experts (CONCE), has rated the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) low with regards to level of compliance with the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria’s (ARCON’s) guidelines on political advertising, as well as sections of INEC’s 2022 Electoral Act and guidelines dealing with political campaigns.
This observation was made during the Online Seminar organised by the CONCE on 29th April, 2023. The seminar was held to receive and review research reports from nine expert groups who carried out mixed methods study on uses of media in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election campaigns.
The research group working on uses of print, broadcast and Out-of-Home (OOH) advertisements during the 2023 Nigerian presidential election campaigns was made up of experts from the academia, ARCON and Outdoor Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (OAAN), under the auspices of CONCE.
The research report established that less than 30 percent of the advertisements sponsored by the four leading political parties were submitted to ARCON for vetting, based on the requirement of ARCON Act 2022, as well as the 2022 Electoral Act.
Presenting a section of the report, Professor Rotimi Olatunji, the Team leader, also of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies of the Lagos State University (LASU), revealed that a total of 51 television commercials (TVCs), 83 radio jingles and 91 print/outdoor advertisement materials were submitted for vetting to ARCON by a combination of APC, PDP, LP and the NNPP .
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Consistently, the APC submitted the largest number of campaign materials to ARCON for vetting in all three categories, including 57 % of the TVC; 59% of the radio jingles; and 78% of the print/OOH campaign materials. The PDP, LP and NNPP trailed behind the APC in that order.
Although the APC submitted the largest advertisements to ARCON for vetting, followed by the PDP, LP and NNPP in that order, the number of vetted advertisements were abysmally low compared to the number that were eventually placed in the media. Several infractions against extant electoral laws and guidelines were widely observed.
Meanwhile, Omo Abunene, while presenting the OOH perspective report, noted that during the 2023 presidential campaign in Nigeria, there were two categories of Outdoor advertising users. “The first category, about 30%, played by the stipulated regulatory rules. They vetted their campaign materials with ARCON, who thoroughly scrutinised the materials to ensure that they did not contravene ARCON regulations, and make all required payments. The other category, about 70%, did not play by the rules. He added that “Almost all political parties are guilty of these infractions”.
Omo Abunene further noted that during the 2023 presidential campaign, OOH featured the good, the bad and the ugly. “Outdoor ads were used for building Presidential candidates’ brand; enhancing increased name/ party recognition of the parties; and for urging the electorate to accept or vote. The negative aspects of OOH campaign materials were targeted at attacking opponents, which evidently backfired, especially in situations where voters viewed them as too negative or unfair.’’
The major campaign themes marketed by the leading political parties and candidates were “Renewed Hope”/ “The Team to Reconnect Nigeria” by Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC; “A Vote to recover Nigeria” by Atiku Abubakar of the PDP; and “A new Nigeria is Possible” / “Taking Nigeria from Consumption to Production” by Peter Obi’s LP. However, Dr Rabiu Kwakwanso focused mainly on personality projection.
As was done in previous elections in Nigeria since 1999, the 2023 presidential election campaigns also witnessed sitting governors using the apparatus of state to do everything possible to prevent opposition parties from using outdoor advertising platforms. This often left the opposition parties no choice but to paste posters indiscriminately and use every other means possible to achieve visibility. Again, this contravenes existing ARCON Act and that of the 2022 Electoral Act.
Another interesting finding was that the four major parties mostly channeled their campaign activities and advertising media buying through their respective support groups, thus intentionally avoiding and or subverting INEC’s Law on funding limits for electioneering campaigns. This is in tandem with a similar report presented during the Online meeting by the research group on role of the Political Action Groups (PACs) during the 2023 Presidential Election campaign headed by Ambassador Aminu Amen Wisdom.
The Saturday 29th April 2023, CONCE online engagement was a continuation of its previous engagement series featuring public discourse on use of communication and media in the 2023 Presidential election campaign.
Prof. Chinedu Mba moderated the Webinar while presentations were made by Prof Nuhu Gapsiso (Newspaper Journalism); Prof Ladi Adamu & Prof Samaila Mande (Radio/TV Journalism); Prof Rotimi Olatunji (Print & Broadcast Advertising); Omo Abunene (Outdoor Advertising); and Dr. Raphael Abimbola (Public Relations).
Other lead presenters were Dr. Osita Aniemeka. (Social Media); Prof Ezekiel Asemah & Prof Charles Okigbo (Communication Effects); Ambassador Aminu Wisdom (Political Action Groups (PACs)); and Dr. Ubadire Agua (Public Opinion Polls). Prof E. S. Dandaura, who also doubled as a member of the Public Relations team, presented the Rapporteur’s Report.
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