Nigerians will go to the polls on Saturday, February 16, 2019 to elect the President that will initiate the sixth democratic term of the fourth republic.
That is the uninspiring and reluctant description the coming elections deserve considering the exertions of 2015 have yielded scarcely any groundbreaking change.
A two-year recession has been the highlight of the Buhari administration with the insecurity and carnage from the continued menace of Boko Haram and the insurgency of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt and some South Eastern states. Yet, it is expected that Mr Buhari will be asking the APC to retain him as its flag bearer for the post of president as the party braces up for a challenge from a PDP that has been at work to rebuild its umbrella.
According to the list published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), parties are to hold their primaries for national and state elections from the 18th of August to October 7, 2018, while that of the FCT Area Council will be between September 4 and October 27, 2018. Campaigns for presidential and national assembly elections will begin on the 18th of November, Governorship and State Assembly elections campaigns will begin on the 1st of December, while those for the FCT Area Council elections begin on December 2nd.
Political campaign seasons see the splash of truckloads of money by political parties and aspirants. The announcement of the timetable may produce a sign for the exasperated 2015 voter but it is essentially good news for the business minded, particularly those in the arts and acts of media and publicity – everything from flyers and billboards, to content creation and digital marketing.
The 2015 season provided strong evidence for the role played by well crafted online and offline campaigns in the emergence of eventual winners. Hence, those good in their game will be drafting up strategic plans and routes to victory.
As at December 2017, there were 67 political parties in Nigeria. The APC and PDP are unarguably unrivalled in their national reach and the pockets of the aspirants on their platforms are likely to be deeper. That said, many good candidates will be taking up spaces at less recognized parties and could be relying on the pull and push of creative public relations to give visibility to their ideas.
Majority of the 105 senators (Rivers state have no senators while Anambra lacks one) currently in the 8th Senate will be facing challenges to their bids for re-election in 2019; same goes for the 360 members of the House of Representatives.
There will be 30 Governorship elections in 2019 (excluding Bayelsa, Ondo, Edo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun). Expect many campaigns to be in need of broad marketing plans for appealing to the people of their states in English and their native tongues. The 36 state Houses of Assembly have no less than 400 serving lawmakers and about thrice as many contenders for their positions.
Obviously, the big fishes in the campaign season pond are the contestants at the Presidential level, particularly those wishing to hold the broom or the umbrella. Are they already taken? It may take actually submitting a plan to be sure.
Campaigns will end for the presidential and National Assembly elections on Valentine’s Day 2019 while those for Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections will end a fortnight after.
In other words, there are about 220 days till the first primaries in August can begin while polls will open in about 400 days for the general elections in 2019. Time to shoot you shot.