Edo 2024: Campaigns of Calumny or Issue-based

Dr. Asue Ighodalo, Edo State PDP guber candidate

Edo 2024: Campaigns of Calumny or Issue-based

By Elempe Dele, Edo.

Immediately the Labour Party, LP, candidate, Olumide Akpata emerged, Dr. Asue Ighodalo, congratulated the two of them, including Senator Monday Okpebholo of the All Progressive Congress, APC, who hard earlier emerged.

Asue urged them to join him in the commitment to focus on issue-based campaigns ahead of the 2024 governorship election.

“The February 2023 general elections saw a level of hate and vitriol masked as political sloganeering that took this nation to the brink; and the fires politicians lit back then continue to smoulder across the nation.

I and my team will continue to campaign to the people of Edo State in language and behaviour that seeks to unite rather than divide. We will stay focused on the issues that matter to our people; and there will be no descent into abuse, ethnic-baiting and name-calling.

We must not destroy the unity of the State we seek to govern. I therefore urge all my fellow candidates to similarly run respectful issue-based campaigns,” Asue said.

I am forced to agree with Dr. Asue Ighodalo on this very thematic issue. Political campaigns should be aimed at providing insights into the myriads of challenges, as well as potentials and opportunities that lie ahead of us while we speak to the electorates.

It is worthy to note that political campaigns have undergone impressive metamorphosis over the years, and these transformations are shaped by a strong interaction between technological growth, social issues and changes, and developing political landscapes.

The Edo State 2024 gubernatorial election would therefore be influenced by major factors such as the growing digitalization in terms of communication platforms, the place of the youth population, inclusiveness in governance, challenges of insecurity, economic restructuring as to take a huge part of the population away from the poverty bracket, among others.

It is on this backdrop I align with Dr. Asue. Candidates and their supporters must deliberately shun malignant campaigns, name-calling, propaganda, peddling of fake news, bad-mouthing and calumny against each other. Campaigns must be issue-based as we are today faced with existential challenges begging for interventions.

We are faced with general issues of insecurity, non-performing economy, poor basic amenities, healthcare delivery and others. These should be the focused of our campaigns and how candidates will make differences when elected. We cannot afford to be derailed from acts of decency which is expected from the notable candidates.

It has become parochial, mundane and archaic to be seen campaigning with mudslinging, name-calling, outward display of anger towards candidates and supporters, sloganeering, insults, misleading information, damage to reputation and other reprobate behaviour.

Campaigns of calumny no doubt have lasting negative impact on credibilities of elections as well as on personalities involved. When smear campaign is part of the electioneering process through circulation of false and malicious propaganda on social media and other means, the damage is far-reaching.

This act creates a sense of distrust among the electorates. Those who are gullible amongst them begin to doubt the truthfulness and genuineness of those vying. If this leads to voter apathy, the legitimacy of the democratic process will be in question.

Another effect of campaigns of calumny is polarization of already stricken people. Falsehood and negative propaganda breeds divisiveness that might be difficult to repair. As we speak, some are banking on ethnic divisions as part of their tools for the campaigns.

Different weak ethnic agendas are being pursued. This unfortunate attempt can only lead to ethnic antagonism and hatred.

It is a must that one out of the three major candidates emerge victorious. Then if we do not askew campaigns of calumny and propaganda, we are bound to have a governor who will be burdened with damaged reputation and credibility, and we all know how this is difficult to repair.

Leading campaign of calumny will amount to intentional or unintentional distraction from critical policy issues that ought to be dominant in our engagements.

Candidates ought to be focused on how to relay their manifestos to the citizens. Substantive policy issues should be at the front burner, not propaganda and reputation repairs.

Healthy debates and public discussion at intervals on thematic issues and problem solving should be the major focus.

The ethical conduct of campaigns which should exclude calumny should be given paramount attention as we go into the electioneering period. We electorates must be ingested with policy issues by ensuring that from the start of campaigns to the end, the democratic process is transparent, inclusive, effectively engaging and the respect of diverse voices is upheld. Political engagements should be shaped through social issues.

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