Electioneering is in full swing ahead of Nigeria's April polls and television advertising is playing a prominent part in this. So far, two candidates have dominated – incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, and former chairman of the economic and financial crimes commission Nuhu Ribadu. By REMMY NWEKE.
Since the unveiling of the 2011 political campaigns, the Nigerian media landscape has been very busy. Nigeria comprises 36 states and Abuja, and there is at least one television station each, as well as a handful of privately owned television houses. Lagos State, being home to almost every ethnicity in Nigeria, has the biggest share of these stations, more so considering its status as the former capital. To avoid political conflicts in campaign strategies, most politicians prefer to go to the private television stations for their television commercials, otherwise known as TVCs.
Advertising revenue, therefore, provides a significant portion of the funding for most privately owned television networks. Media experts in Nigeria note that adverts have a pervasive and successful effect on the viewing public. In most countries of the world, including the US, television adverts are known to be a crucial step for political campaigns,and Nigeria is not an exception. Aside from the live broadcasting of campaigns, largely by the private stations which have the modern technologies to match the demand, and the Nigerian Television Authority, which claims “the widest reach”, television houses are definitely smiling all the way to the bank when it comes to political campaigns.
Some of the television houses see the election campaigns as a means to add to their revenue by maximising their price tags for each TVC to at least 1 million Naira (about $6,500) for a few seconds of advertising time. Other broadcasters try to woo politicians by offering discounted rates to those who flight a number of commercials on their stations.
Having extensively monitored the television commercials over the last few weeks since the start of political campaigns, the bulk of TVCs centre on two key presidential candidates. These are the incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; and former chairman of the economic and financial crimes commission, Malam Nuhu Ribadu. Given their dominance of the advertising space, you'd be forgiven for not realising that there are more than 40 other candidates cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Seems that Jonathan and Ribadu have the most financial resources to get their voices heard.
Noteworthy is that Jonathan is the present Nigerian President, who gained his current position after the demise of Umar Musa Yar’Adua. Jonathan’s elevation to the post of vice-president came soon after he became the governor of Bayelsa State in the wake of corruption allegations levelled against erstwhile governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by the EFCC. His political rise to president was an indication to most Nigerians that the return of democracy in 1999 had become a permanent fixture. Jonathan is now seeking his first-ever elective political position as the flag-bearer for the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ribadu, on the other hand, is mainly known as an anti-corruption tsar from the days of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He was targeted by those purportedly behind the emergence of late president Yar’Adua, which forced him into exile owing to reportedly trumped-up charges. The charges were subsequently dropped, and Ribadu was granted a pardon by Jonathan, whom he is now opposing under the banner of the Action Congress of Nigeria.
These two candidates have both taken the “humble roots” approach in their television advertising, with Jonathan's “I am Goodluck Jonathan” advert, being replicated in Ribadu's “I am Nuhu Ribadu” campaign. In this particular TVC, Jonathan’s early life is referenced to show that someone who grew up poor can actually become president of Nigeria. The advert uses extracts from his speech to the delegates of Peoples Democratic Party during the national convention, when he was seeking nomination as the presidential candidate for the 2011 April election.
Watch:“I am Goodluck Jonathan” television advert:
Jonathan sought the understanding of the delegates by relaying his life history and noting the fact that, as a school boy, he had no shoes or school bags. The message is that if he can make it, then there is ample opportunity for every Nigerian, especially those who show determination: “I can make it with determination. As a boy I have no shoes, no school bags (and) if he can make it, I can also make it.”
Rihadu’s TVC campaign for true change takes the typical opposition stance, and instead points to all the facets of Nigerian society that need to be changed: “Bad roads, insecurity, unemployment, lack of electricity - all these need to change. Vote for change. Vote for true change. Vote Mallam Nuhu Ribadu for president in 2011.”
Watch: “Malam Ribadu: Why I'm running for president”:
This flavour has been heightened by Ribadu's demand for a presidential debate with Jonathan and others, to be telecast live and nationwide. Media experts say it would be interesting, given that since 1999 there have not been official presidential debates among the candidates seeking to occupy the seat of president. FAM
Photo: A car plastered with posters is parked outside the venue of the flag-off of the governorship campaign of Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola in Lagos, March 5, 2011. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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