L-R: Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Media Seal and Report Writer; Prof. Oyedamola Oke, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Admin), Lagos State University (LASU); Prof. Lai Oso, President, Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN); Prof Rotimi Olatunji, Dean, School of Communication, LASU and Report Writer at the public presentation of the Research Report On Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Election held recently.
As 2019 General election approaches, communication stakeholders under the auspices of Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) have called on Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) practitioners, Political parties and other stakeholders to ensure that election campaign messages are not about hate speech but issue based.
The association made this disclosure during the public presentation of a research book titled “Understanding Nigerian Media and Elections through Research: Analysis of the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign Messages” held at the Conference Room, School of Transport, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo recently.
The research was funded by Ford Foundation (West Africa) and was undertaken by the Association in collaboration with North Dakota State University (NDSU), ORBICOM/UNESCO and other partners, including the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). The report writers are Prof Rotimi Olatunji, Dean, School of Communication, LASU, and Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Rosabel/Media Seal Ltd.
The research revealed the level of hate speech in the media during the 2015 presidential campaign and offered recommendations. In respect to this, the President of ACSPN, Professor Lai Oso, urged stakeholders like Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Political parties, Advertising Practitioners Council Of Nigeria (APCON), Media, and IMC practitioners to avoid its occurrence in future elections.
According to the report, two of the dominating political parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC), engaged the use of negative tone and hate speech, which account for 67%; and most of these ad campaigns were not vetted by APCON and NBC.
The publication’s data were collated from content analysis of media campaign messages on the 2015 presidential election, through newspaper advertisements, radio and television commercials, social media, including public relations messages which were extensively analysed.
To avoid what happened in 2015, Oluwatosin urged Political parties and their supporters to concentrate on issue based campaign messages. “Political parties and their supporters should concentrate on issue based campaign, it is important we concentrate on the issue than the personalities, concentrating on what they intend to do for the nation than attacking personalities”
The report therefore recommends that every political advertisement, without exception must be vetted by APCON and NBC before publication or broadcast. Also, Advertising agencies, public relations firms and political marketing firms should adhere to professional ethics in design and dissemination of media messages during elections, while no media house should publish any material without the approval stamps.
On a different note, Prof. Olatunji pointed that in 2015, the dominating Political parties engaged the services of foreign communication consultants at the expense of professionals that the country boost of. “There are professionals in all areas of communication in Nigeria, they have enough competent to handle campaigns but rather the government of the day and the party in opposition decided to go offshore to bring people to do their campaign strategies and yet many of these campaigns did not resonate well with the electorate.” he said.
Meanwhile, Nosa Owens-Ibie, General Secretary, ACSPN pointed that communication has to be right and targeted right to deliver the right impact, adding that Nigerians need to avoid hate speeches in the interest of all.
It is noteworthy that more than half of all respondents (58.5%) agree that the messages in the 2015 election campaigns were more personality focused than issue-based.
Furthermore, the research recommends the need to adopt creative approach to media planning during elections, voting pattern should go beyond the primordial sentiments, political parties and candidates should speak more to the felt needs of the electorate through issued-based campaigns in the country.
Also, it recommends that the codes of APCON and NBC in particular should be amended to state that penalty for publishing or broadcasting non-vetted materials or material adjudged by the body to be hate speech, shall be twice the rate that media had been paid for that particular advert.