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When it comes to winning elections in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, it all comes down to having and implementing a superior strategy that blends with the terrain.
The Nigerian political space is getting heated up as the 2019 general elections draw nearer and a lot of money is being spent to canvas for support and ultimately votes. Politicians have started switching allegiance from one party to another, looking for suitable political platforms that can guarantee them electoral success. The desperation to get the support of the electorate usually leads many of the politicians trying all sorts of unusual political gimmicks. In this piece, TopNaija.ng highlights the top twelve proven and surest strategies Nigeria’s top politicians have, over the time, deployed to win political mandates effortlessly.
1. Start With A Concrete Plan. Winning begins with planning and those who must win elections must first win on paper. Challengers and Incumbents have the same goal; they want to win, and the difference between victory and defeat is often in the strength of the Campaign Strategy and how well it is implemented. Your strategy is the backbone of your campaign. Your strategy will dictate everything from the start of your campaign to your first day in office. So it pays to sit down, brainstorm and create a winning strategy.
2. Build A Strong Campaign Marketing Team.
Determining the best campaign strategy for any one election takes time and effort. Your strategy is dependent on several factors, including Challenger vs. Incumbent: Are you running for re-election or are you running against a well-established politician? Are you running for an open seat? Is this your first political campaign? Obviously, each situation requires a significantly different strategy. Coordinate your team to come up with a unique strategy and develop a persuasive campaign and powerful media message that can position you for success. A political strategy that can consolidate your position as an incumbent or a strategy to defeat the existing incumbent as a new entrant into the political space. Produce a Political Campaign Action Plan which will outline a detailed strategy on how you can commence a political campaign to target voters in your state, local government or constituency. To effectively carry out digital marketing for your campaign, you need an efficient digital marketing team made up of marketing strategists, content writers, designers, photographers, SEO specialists, web developers, social media managers, data analysts & influencers. By the way, touts, hired guns, and tugs (who snatch ballot boxes and unleash mayhem) are not needed in your team. Mediawise is know for building some of the best works in this area.
3. Get A Website. Once you announce your candidacy, people will google you up. They want to know your plans for them and you don’t want a third party website to shape your agenda, you want to take the lead with a user friendly website were your supporters can get to know more about your story, your ideology and of course, your manifesto. Best part is, it’s more economical than billboards and wall posters. All your campaign materials (videos, pictures, schedule, and manifesto) need to be on your website. You can have a blog for your website where you share fresh perspectives from time to time and a fund-raising section.
4. Brand Yourself. Perception is reality. Nobody wants to vote for a loser or a candidate that looks or feels unprepared. Your name, initials, logo, colors, tag phrase, party banner and every single design must resonate and portray you and what you are about. Be consistent when it comes to the messages that you are sending. Build a positive image for your campaign. Carry the same message across all platforms, posters, handbills, hand bands, every promotional material. Claim your domain name and verify your social media handles accounts with speed. You don’t want a parody to be more popular than you, or do you? Like fuel to fire, you need them to spread the gospel of your campaign. You need influencers with an oversize following and a crazy fan base to be on your side. You need them shouting your name from the roof tops and flaunting your credentials at every turn.
5. Address Stomach Infrastructure. Stomach infrastructure is a new vocabulary in Nigeria’s political dictionary. It is simply about giving gift items to voters to get their votes. Notably, it crept into Nigeria’s political wordlist after the 2014 Ekiti governorship election when voters were given gifts of bags of rice and other foodstuffs to vote for the outgoing governor, Ayodele Fayose. However, distributing foodstuff and other gifts during campaigns in Nigeria did not start with the 2014 Ekiti election. It has been happening in many parts of the country but it became more prominent, with viral photos on social media, during the Ekiti election.
6. Tell your story while playing up the poverty sentiment.
According to a popular quote by Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan “In my early days in school I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired, no car to take me to school, but I never despaired.” Another popular way Nigerian politicians secure mandates is by playing up the poverty sentiment. Though some of them are stupendously rich, they play up the poverty narrative detailing how they were once “poor and could not afford three-square meals”. They use this technique to appeal to the masses and make them believe that they understand their plight and know the best way to address their challenges.
7. Get A Successful Political Mentor Or ‘Godfather’
This is a form of political corruption in which an influential member of a party assists a political aspirant/candidate in the climb to political leadership. The political godfathers are like kingmakers, their candidates usually win, by hook or crook. Thus, what many politicians do is to secure the support of a godfather by agreeing to a certain ‘deal’ and the seat will be guaranteed.
8. Vote buying and selling
This is similar to stomach infrastructure but it mainly has to do with money. It is simply a process where voters are given money, especially on the election day, to vote in certain directions. It has been in existence for long but it also gained a heightened prominence during the recently conducted 2018 governorship election in Ekiti state.
9. Mobilize From Grassroots
While social media remains a powerful influencer in this age, political campaigns in Nigeria are not won on Facebook and Twitter, and that is why you must have and implement a grassroots door to door political campaign strategy. By having a strategic political action plan and combining with an effective media campaign strategy and also a grassroot mobilization strategy, you are sure of positioning yourself for success.
10. Leverage Pressing Challenges And Trending Issues. What are the most pressing challenges and trending issues across the country? How do you plan to address those issues? How do you target your campaign to those voters who agree with you? Political campaigns should be driven by issues, you can win a campaign when you expose the incompetencies and mistakes of your political rivals in an honest and competitive way devoid of rancour and pandemonium. You need a way to broadcast your message to a large number of potential voters and constituents in a short amount of time. Utilize all forms of campaign strategies, television/radio ads, and other campaign marketing avenues, like door-to-door canvassing etc.
11. Familiarise with the masses. This technique has also been adopted by popular politicians across all the major political parties in the country. It involves the politicians engaging in acts peculiar to the masses as part of their efforts to gain popularity among the people. They photograph themselves drinking ‘pure water’ (sachet water common among the Nigerian masses), eating in local food joints, etc.
12. Monitor, analyze and evaluate. Peter Drucker once said “what cannot be measured cannot be managed”. Ask your team to keep you updated with weekly campaign reports and constantly analyse them to optimize your campaigns and overall strategy. Constant analysis is a must in political campaigns which are usually much more volatile than commercial ones. You must be ready to respond to any scandal or allegation and you must be proactive in furthering your agenda and winning the crown.
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