Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There was a time when Nigerian politicians would release entire music albums for campaign purposes. Although I am unaware whether modern day parties continue with that practice, a praise/campaign song was played in the background during former dictator Ibrahim Babangida's campaign rally held on September 14th in Abuja.

Another presidential aspirant, current president Goodluck Jonathan, has released a series of music videos as part of his campaign strategy. The videos, available on YouTube, feature different musical genres. This approach is in keeping with Jonathan's attempt to distinguish himself from other politicians by appealing to the youth vote. In that vein, he opened a Facebook page, announced his campaign to his Facebook fans and now has issued videos on youth-geared YouTube. Furthermore, Jonathan's main video, which is in English, is reminiscent of youth-oriented music and political videos being created by Nigerian musicians and youth groups, such as Light Up Nigeria. They typically feature recognizable faces such as Nollywood actors and other public figures.

It remains to be seen what other steps Jonathan will take in his efforts to campaign for the presidency. So far, he is clearly trying to appeal to the youth vote. This youth approach, made popular by the Obama campaign in 2008, is a smart choice for any Nigerian politician. The overwhelming majority of Nigeria's 150 million citizens are under the age of 35 and according to recent polling from Enough is Enough, a Nigerian pro-democracy organization, 83% of young adults polled plan to not only register but vote in the upcoming elections. Therefore, any politician that can bring out voters, and especially young voters, will have an advantage. From his actions thus far, that is Jonathan's plan.

Other politicians have taken to web 2.0 technology to appear accessible and appeal to younger Nigerian voters. Donald Duke, Dele Momodu, and Nuhu Ribadu all have a presence on one or more social media platforms. As the elections draw close, they may now occur in April and not January 2011, it will be interesting to see how these politicians distinguish themselves. While I understand that a politician must reach potential voters the best ways they can, I, for one, would rather have them engage the public in an intelligent fashion. They can do this by specifying not just their goals, but how they will go about achieving them. That, in my opinion, is more important for the sustainability of Nigerian democracy and development. And when used in conjunction with web 2.0 capacity and other means, will provide a well rounded platform that educates the public on what these politicians actually stand for.

Which video do you like the best?

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