The Consortium of Nigerian Communication experts (CoNCE), has recommended the appointment of experienced communication professionals as political party spokespersons as they give verdict on the 2023 Elections.
The recommendation is part of a communique issued at the end of the fifth assessment workshop designed to examine the various uses of communication in the 2023 election cycle, where they called for the use of only duly registered Nigerian advertising and public relations agencies.
They critically and objectively analyzed the recent presidential election campaigns and the results of the concluded voting, which left their wake some positive outcomes and other wrong developments.
CoNCE is the umbrella network of academic and professional communication associations committed to the purposeful uses of communication to promote sustainable social development through research, education, capacity building and advocacy.
The workshop was held virtually and attracted 145 discussants from diverse communication sectors and 13 speakers, who recommended that the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) should improve its capacity to provide adequate public education on voting procedures to avoid failures in future elections.
The communication experts recommended that INEC and the other information and communication organs of government, especially the National Orientation Agency, should collaborate closely and be guided by the public interest.
“The regulation of election campaign advertising must be sustained and the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), as both a government agency and a body created to propagate the ethical conduct of advertising, should be fully empowered to discharge its functions.
“Greater use of communication professionals in all aspects of election campaigns is necessary for the attainment of desirable communication results in elections and subsequently in governance. That CONCE should, preparatory to future elections, organise relevant political communication training programmes for spokespersons of political parties and critical stakeholders,” the Communique said.
The Association however, observed that many things went wrong during the recent presidential election campaigns and the results of the concluded voting, which had some positive outcomes, though.
They listed among other things, divisive, unethical and unprofessional communication campaign strategies, tactics and messages that created unnecessary tension.
The communication experts said INEC failed to live up to the voters’ expectations because of the delays in the delivery of voting materials in some centres and that the much-publicized benefits of the new technologies of BVAS and IREV were not realized due to man-made errors that could have been avoided.
CoNCE also commended that this year’s elections have so far been peaceful, compared to previous Nigerian elections, even though the parties produced well-thought-out and colorfully designed manifestos, which they did not find much use for in the actual media campaigns.
“In spite of the failures, there were free and fair voting and accurate reporting of results in many centres. The final results, as announced by INEC, showed that the major political parties performed along the same old traditional cleavages of religion, region, and ethnicity, even with the emergence of a third party that seemed to appeal more to the youths,” the communication experts said.