COMMUNICATION experts across the globe agree that candidate President Barack Obama won the United States Presidential election three years ago because he maximally employed the use of effective communication. How? Considering the odds against him then, only a resourceful communication strategy could have turned the unfavourable political tide in his favour. One may also ask what these odds were?
First and most prominent was the fact that he was disadvantaged because he is black. He has a skin colour that not only evoked racial prejudice but also perceived to be intellectually inferior and morally lax with an undignified history and a lack of social finesse in the sophisticated U.S. polity.
That was not all; there was also the issue of the cute fellow from Chicago, being poorly adjudged as an outsider or newcomer in Washington's establishment circles. He didn't belong and rank well among the Washington elite, coming from the private sector as an Attorney, and also having spent only two and a half years as a senator (regardless of his sterling accomplishments in the short stint in the United States Senate) by the time he launched his pervasive and well-funded campaign machinery.
Also worrisome was the consideration that he had an almost intimidating intra-party competitor in the person of Hillary Clinton, to upstage, before confronting a maverick fellow senator, John McCain.
A wise Barrack Obama studied these odds against him and realised that he had what other candidates didn't have in good measure. Yes! He was very savvy in the application of the Internet as an effective communication machine. With it he reached millions of his generation across racial divide, to sell his manifesto, with the slogan, 'Yes we can!'And yes, he won!
How then does Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State fit into the Obama success story? Like President Barrack Obama, Amaechi is young, urbane, intellectually gifted, physically charming, eloquent and charismatic. His proficiency in the deployment of information technology, to achieve effective socio-political communication is also commendable. He was able to use the facebook social network to reach out and build himself as a political brand.
We might need to ask, what is the political imperative of this strategy? The best way to quantify Amaechi's political gains, via facebook is to figure out how many people he had access to and consequently influenced.
Marketing communication experts know that anybody aiming at grabbing the market of the future must target the youth population who would grow into adults or parents of tomorrow. Therefore, he who captures the youths' support and patronage invariably has captured the market.
Gov. Ameachi has also made effective use of experiential marketing in selling himself and his policies. A good example is the recent outing with a CNN correspondent, who was in the state to do a feature story on the state of insecurity in the Niger Delta states. Nothing, and no experience for that matter, would have more effectively communicated the sense that the state is really not as insecure as being touted by the foreign media, than the governor's disarming humility and courage to personally drive the CNN correspondent through the street of Port Harcourt, the state's capital.
That the chief executive officer of the state could personally drive through the streets is a clear testimony of how safe state is. Indeed, with young, well-learned and information technology-conscious professionals emerging as at all levels of government, we will experience some changes. Who would have thought it possible ten years ago, that a governor would publish his private mobile number and e-mail address for the public to reach him. Governor Babatunde Fashola has taken the lead in so doing, I trust Governor Amaechi and his ilk would follow suit if they haven't done so already.
Fashola, on his part, seems to have mastered the art of 'Symbolic Communication' so well. His image handlers have succeeded in branding him as very compassionate but yet a no-nonsense believer in the rule of law. Excellently positioned as a leader with a heart bursting with public good but who would not spare the rod when the law is fouled.
But that is ideally what Lagosians should be expecting, when they decided among the array of political heavyweights who contested the 2007 highly competitive elections, to vote for not just a lawyer but a Senior Advocate of
Nigeria. Therefore, for the evident good of Lagosians, every Jane and Jack has been straightened-out under the law.
It would appear that the defunct Soviet Union's 'glasnost' has finally reached our shores, for good. Indeed, the future is really looking up for our politics, not minding the occasional assaults on our collective psyche by irredeemable demagogues ever seeking to perpetuate ethnicity and mediocrity dressed up as federal character policy, which has held us down, as a nation, for too long.