Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, has cautioned politicians, especially incumbents, not to use desperation to retain power by arm-twisting or muzzling opposition parties.
The erudite politicain gave the advice in Abuja at a “Roundtable on the Nigerian Party Competition during a Time of Transition and Terror” organised by the centre and delivered by Prof. Carl LeVan, of the School of International Service, American University Washington D.C.
He said that rather than use violence to retain power, parties, especially the incumbents should embark on productive manifestos and issue-based campaigns to win in the elections.
He said that a research by Prof. LeVan on Nigerian elections showed that Nigerians were more swayed by issues around why they should vote for politicians than other considerations.
Ibrahim said a good example was in 2011 when former President Goodluck Jonathan won on the basis of a breath of fresh air and of a promise of a new style of politics.
“We need to have an election where all political parties have a fair share of winning, meaning that those in power, the incumbents, do not use their desperation to retain power to ensure there is no level-playing ground. What this is telling us is that you cannot win power simply on the basis of corrupting the rules of the game.
“You have to convince voters so they can vote for you to hold power and that’s good for us ahead of 2019 so we can improve on the elections too. Unfortunately, with the spread of the social media, hate speech has even increased since 2015 and today, all sorts of fake messages, images and distorted information are circulating and that could significantly affect election outcome,” Ibrahim said.
Speaking earlier Prof. Carl LeVan said his research on Nigeria’s election revealed that it was no longer the nature of democracy people always thought it was.
“Certainly, the defeat of the ruling party after 16 years was truly a milestone. One of the key findings from my research is that the source of that historic change in party power was driven by voters and the issues they cared about,” LeVan said.
He said that though economy and corruption were the most important issues around the 2015 elections, for 2019 however, there may be other issues.
According to him, there were important lessons to learn from the 2015 elections, one of which were for parties to learn to talk about issues and needed to think very strategically about what the right issues were.