The Association of Communication Scholars & Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) has announced the completion of its research project titled Understanding Nigerian Media and Elections through Research: Analysis of the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign Messages. The group plans to launch the report and make it available to stakeholders thereafter.
The research was carried out by administering questionnaires which were collated and analysed to arrive at the findings. A total 1,140 subjects responded to the questionnaire administered for the survey with a majority of them being younger than 40 years (76.1%). Two thirds (66.0%) of the respondents admitted that they voted during the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria.
The research looked into and explored audience perceptions, content analysis of newspaper advertisements, social media messages, involvement of foreign consultants, role of political interest groups and out-of-home media.
The report, in Chapter One, presents the general Introduction; Chapter Two presents a review of the literature and the Historical perspective of Elections in Nigeria while Chapter Three addresses the research method. Subsequent chapters address data presentation on uses of newspaper advertisements, television commercials and social media messages during the 2015 presidential election, along with survey data, discussion of findings, summary, conclusions and recommendations.
The report found, many other things, that television was widely recognised as the most effective tool during the 2015 presidential campaigns followed by the social media; that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was more visible on the social media than the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). As a result, interviewees identified Television, Social media, radio, newspapers and magazines, billboards and flyers, announcements in places of worship (or word of mouth), and political rallies as effective communication channels of political campaign messages.
Those interviewed agreed that influences of religion and ethnicity on voting decision in Nigeria were significant. They also agreed that hate speech is inimical to the growth and development of any democracy and that the over-concentration on negative speech and personality promotion robbed the electioneering campaign of the opportunity to disseminate or witness issue-based campaigns.
The report made a number of recommendations targeted at different stakeholders.
The report called on the federal government to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure that regulatory agencies do not fail in their responsibility to sanction electoral breach in the media. It added that there is also the need to ensure that the operations of regulatory agencies are insulated from unneccessary interference from the party in power.
The report urged the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, civil society groups and other stakeholders to promote media and information literacy to enable better deployment of user generated contents that foster democracy and the democratization process.
It called on political parties and candidates to optimise the numerous opportunities (of cost-effectiveness, reach, immediacy, citizens’ engagement, etc.) offered by the rising popularity of new/social media.
In view of the multiplicity of media channels and options in contemporary Nigeria, it recommended a creative approach to media planning during elections to ensure that media selected by political communication consultants combine advantages of cost-effectiveness, reach, frequency, understand-ability and cultural relevance. Allied to this, the report
It also called on advertising agencies, public relations firms and political marketing firms to adhere to professional ethics in design and dissemination of media messages during elections.
ACSPN undertook the research work in collaboration with North Dakota State University (NDSU), ORBICOM/UNESCO and other partners, including the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). Prof. Rotimi Olatunji, Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University and Ayo Oluwatosin, Group Managing Director, Rosabel/Media Seal Ltd were joint team leaders of the project which received funding support from Ford Foundation.