8 December 2018

Nigeria: As Osinbajo Takes Presidential Campaign to Nigerians' Doorsteps

Photo: The Guardian
Yemi Osinbajo.

About two weeks ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted the ban on campaigns for the 2019 polls and with that, political parties have started the electioneering process in earnest.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has since commenced its zonal campaigns. On the other hand, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to kick start its state campaigns.

But while most of the opposition parties have gone to the zones and the states to launch their campaigns, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo did the unthinkable by launching a door-to-door campaign in the Nyanya and Karu aisle of the FCT.

It is instructive to note that door-to-door campaign is usually employed by state house of assembly or some National Assembly candidates during campaigns. It is a rarity in presidential campaign.

According to a June 2018 article published in American Economic Review, door-to-door canvassing campaigns actually work to persuade voters and sway national election outcomes, even when they don't encourage more people to show up to the polls.

The article authored by Harvard Business School assistant professor, Vincent Pons, describes a nationwide voter behavior study involving the 2012 French presidential campaign, when Francois Hollande ran against then-incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. According to the author, the paper provides "the first estimate of the effect of door-to-door canvassing on actual electoral outcomes."

Pons noted that from February 1 to May 6, 2012, some 80,000 volunteers knocked on 5 million doors in an effort to get French citizens to vote, and specifically to vote for Hollande, that year's candidate of the center-left Parti Socialiste. The outcome was that Hollande won the election with 51.6 percent of the votes.

For the 2019 general elections, while the APC and specifically the vice president have decided to adopt the door-to-door campaign strategy, political observers are of the view that the door-to-door electioneering strategy should be adopted by most of the presidential candidates because it brings the candidates closer to the people for direct scrutiny.

Osinbajo took the 2019 presidential campaign to Nyanya and Karu aisle of the FCT, where he declared that President Buhari's honesty, integrity and performance in the past three years in office, as evidenced in the ability of the administration to do more even when the country is earning less, set him apart from all other contenders for the exalted office.

The vice president visited two homes: Alhaji S.K Ahmed's family in Nyanya and the Jimiko compound in Karu. "No sooner the VP's Coaster bus arrived in the communities than the people thronged out en-masse in both places, chanting praises of the president and singing party songs", a statement by the senior special assistant on media and publicity to the VP, Laolu Akande, noted.

The statement noted that after meeting both families, Osinbajo addressed a mammoth crowd and spent time interacting with the excited people who thronged out in their numbers, to see the number two man in the country unannounced in their neighborhoods.

Speaking to the crowd, the vice president said, "For the honest, decent and hardworking Nigerians, Mr President has devoted his life to ensuring that their lives are made better even when it is sometimes not easy to do so.

"All of us are going higher. I want you to believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to do even better. We have to create more jobs for all these young people. We have to give our market women credit so that they can do more business; our young people money so that they can do more business."

Stressing on the president's concern for the common man, Osinbajo said, "When he asked us to start the TraderMoni, he said, "this is one way by which we can help people to start doing their own business".

He added that Nigeria's future was brighter with President Buhari on the saddle, noting that no public funds would be stolen under his watch.

The VP continued: "So, I am here to say to you that the future of our country is great. All of you that are here, you are going to see a better Nigeria and that greater Nigeria can only come if the government is honest, if the government is not stealing our money.

"If the government is honest, it will build all the roads in Nigeria, for instance, like we are doing the Lagos-Kano rail and others now. You can see that with little money we are doing much more because we will not agree to the stealing of our resources.

"We will go forward and we will move forward. It is a bit difficult now because we are building the foundation. When we came into office, we found no savings. Oil was our biggest earnings; we had earned so much in four years but there was little to show for it. They didn't build the railway, no roads. So, when we came we decided to first of all do the right thing".

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