Background

Following the lifting of the ban on political campaigns by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), party campaigns to succeed President Buhari started in September 2022. With insecurity as unarguably the most troubling of Nigeria’s problems, how to fix insecurity was expected to take a prominent place in the manifestos of political parties.

Goal-means analysis1https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-16065-4_34#auth-Anne_Sofie-Vanhaeght; https://erikhollnagel.com/onewebmedia/GMTA.pdf, Also see, Anne-Sofie Vanhaeght, “Assessing Policy IV: Goal Means Tree Analysis,” in, Leo Van Audenhove et al (eds.), Palgrave Handbook of Methods for Media Policy Research, Palgrave/Springer Nature, 2019 examines the adequacy of the means policymakers enunciate(d) for achieving their policy goals, through unpacking of the manifestos of leading parties.2Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi— in their campaign documents (manifestos) titled A Covenant with Nigerians, Renewed Hope 2023: Action Plan for a Better Nigeria and Our pact with Nigerians As the recognized medium of intimating the electorate of their intentions, parties are expected to express their understanding of social problems, how they want to solve such problems, and even the means to use to achieve their goals. Also, candidates articulate their policy goals and strategies in their manifestoes and media campaigns.

Given the primacy of security as an issue in the forthcoming election, this piece examines how well candidates speak to and address security issues in their media campaigns to measure candidates’ alignment or otherwise with the contents of their party manifestos. Understandably, security has been prioritized by political office seekers because of the growing security challenges that Nigeria has increasingly faced over the past decade.

Such security challenges include the spate of violent attacks by Boko Haram in recent times, which has been characterized by the abduction and killing of people, as well as the destruction of houses, schools, health care centers, churches, mosques, and farms, plunging the country into a chronic state of insecurity. The basic necessities of food, health, shelter, education, and protection which constitute security to the human individual have therefore been threatened by the Boko Haram insurgency. It has also resulted in high levels of violence, gender-based violence, destruction of communities, farmlands, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of Northeast Nigeria.3Crisis Group, Herders against farmers: Nigeria’s expanding deadly conflict, Crisis Group Report, September 2017, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/west-africa/nigeria/252-herders-against-farmers-nigerias-expanding-deadly-conflict Another source of threats is climate change-related insecurity, as a result of prolonged drought amid high population growth rates, resulting in progressive desertification and loss of grazing land to expanding settlements, and the southward migration of herders causing violent competition over land with local farmers. This situation has been further compounded by high levels of armed banditry in northwest and north-central Nigeria.

Security mentions in Media Campaigns of Presidential Candidates in Nigeria’s 2023 Election

In figure 1 below, the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar articulated security in 34.44 percent of the media campaign (radio, television, and social media) to put across his agenda on national security, peace, unity, and federalism to the electorate. For the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, security featured in 27.81 percent of media campaigns and Labour Party’s Peter Obi, 26.28 percent. The remaining 11.47 percent of the media share was taken by other political parties from which the New Nigeria People’s Party’s (NNPP) Rabiu Kwakwanso, had 3.57 percent.

4Source: Research on Development of African Media and Society CEREDEMS and Positive Agenda Nigeria (PAN), Improving Credible General Elections in Nigeria Through Real-Time Monitoring of Campaigns in Physical and Virtual Platforms, 2023.

The attention paid to security in the manifestoes of these parties is compared with the one given in their media campaigns. For the PDP candidate, there is symmetry between the attention given to security in the manifesto and mentions of security in media campaigns. In the next section, a goal-means analysis of each party’s approach to security is presented in alphabetical order. This analysis shows that the party hinges its pursuit of security on addressing the economic drivers of insecurity.5(see A Covenant with Nigerians by Atiku, 2022, pp 99-102). For the APC and LP candidates, their means of achieving their security goal is to enhance the kinetic capacity of the Nigerian armed forces.

Goal-Means analysis of achieving Security by Presidential Candidates in the 2023 Election

APC

The APC candidate made national security claims by promising to redefine military doctrine and practice; upgrade weapons; ensure aerial and technological superiority; improve the  salaries and welfare of personnel; mandate border protection; pursue international collaboration; and reposition the policing security sub-sector.6Bisi Abidoye, “PT State of the Race: How presidential candidates plan to tackle insecurity in Nigeria, Premium Times, January 15, 2023, https://www.premiumtimesng.com/features-and-interviews/575811-pt-state-of-the-race-how-presidential-candidates-plan-to-tackle-insecurity-in-nigeria.html In addition, Tinubu contends that to redefine military doctrine and practice, his administration will create a well-trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalion and win the minds of the locals, affected by the insurgency, with economic empowerment.7Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Renewed Hope: Action Plan for a Better Nigeria, The APC Presidential Manifesto, 2022.

PDP

For the proposed PDP-led administration under Atiku Abubakar to ensure national security, the party’s candidate assured Nigerians of creating economic prosperity; good governance and inclusiveness; community policing; increasing the size of security outfits; improving the welfare of security personnel; and providing adequate resources. In addition, Abubakar hinted at implementing a Special Presidential Welfare Initiative for the security personnel.8Atiku Ababakar, A Covenant with Nigerians: PDP Presidential Candidate Manifesto, 2022. The PDP presidential candidate also assured Nigerians of intensifying security by fostering synergy in the functions and operations of security agencies through intelligence sharing to make them more effective.

LP

Under the heading, “To secure Nigeria, end banditry and insurgency, and unite our dear nation,” Obi, the LP candidate, listed seven ways through which his administration plans to secure and, at the same time, unite Nigeria.9Peter Obi, It’s Possible: Our Pact with Nigerians: Creating a New Nigeria, Obi/Baba Ahmed Manifesto, 2023. These are: increasing the personnel of the security agencies, training them and providing them with modern equipment; state policing; national and sub-national support; and strengthening the Ministries of Interior, Police Affairs, and other related agencies.10Peter Obi, It’s possible; Abidoye PT State of the Race.

The APC and LP candidates identified terrorism and banditry as a first-order security issue they will tackle, while the PDP candidate prioritized what he termed “economic prosperity,” which does not speak directly to the issue of security. With regard to justice and equity, upholding the rule of law, empowerment of the judiciary, and decentralization of power were the candidate’s means to achieve these. The candidates have explained their goals and means to achieve them with some different perspectives as they look forward to the 2023 election.

Conclusion

Since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999 after decades of military authoritarianism, Nigerian politics have been characterized by different issues, especially weak infrastructure, poverty, and crises in the economic and educational sectors. The last twelve years have, however, witnessed growing threats to national security and unity as a result of terrorism, ethnic conflict, and regional agitation for devolution of power, or outright secession. The 2023 election thus provides another opportunity for politicians to woo the electorate again with promises of providing security, justice, equity, and economic prosperity. They have continued to sell their programs through their party manifestos at political rallies, campaigns, and in the media. The onus lies in the Nigerian electorate to be vigilant, carefully weigh the three major presidential contenders, and decide on who is sincere with their political agenda. The burdens of fulfilling these promises to long-suffering Nigerians with high expectations of change will fall on the shoulders of whoever emerges the winner in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

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