By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Politics Editor
But for the tardiness surrounding preparations for the 2011 general elections, signs that the exercise would be one of the keenest contested polls in the country are palpable.

Leading contenders are prosecuting their electoral battles on all fronts, using all available media to garner advantage.

Aside the traditional media of handbills, posters, billboards, radio/TV/Newspaper adverts, many aspirants have embraced e-campaigns. Some of them are also into mobile campaigns via banners and emblems on commercial vehicles.

Since Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele introduced the ‘number plate’ campaign emblem in 2007, the method has gained momentum.

Then aspiring for the governorship of Lagos on the plank of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,

Adeniji-Adele had come out with a number plate-like emblem that looked like a typical Lagos vehicle number plate. It read ‘AAA 2007 PDP’ and was pasted on a number of vehicles. ‘AAA’ stood for his names Ademola Adeniji Adele; ‘2007’ was election year and ‘PDP,’ his political party.

Current Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF) of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has adopted the style. A number of vehicles in Lagos now bear emblems with BRF 2011 ACN. And the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, is raising issues over the emblems, saying that they could constitute security risks because some vehicles use the emblem as if it is their plate number.

Fashola’s campaigns are also on Lagos special buses – BRT and LAGBUS. Some of them, in addition to bank and other companies’ adverts, bear Fashola’s poster, which reads: “Re-elect BRF.”

Still on vehicles, President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign posters are being borne by some commercial buses popularly known as Danfo,  in Lagos. A number of them have the photograph of Jonathan inset on a green agrarian background with the epitaph: “I need fresh air in Nigeria. What about you?”

Another version with Jonathan’s picture on a similar background reads: “… A Breathe of Fresh Air” A subtle way, as it were, of saying that Jonathan’s presidency would bring fresh ideas and new ways of doing things as opposed to old politicians and former military rulers, who are also aspiring for the nation’s top job.

One of the most interesting dimensions to the campaigns is the use of the internet otherwise known as e-campaigns.

Indeed, President Jonathan announced his intention to run for the presidency on Facebook. And before his six campaign songs (which were done in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and Ijaw languages) hit the radio and television stations, they were already on Youtube.

Other presidential aspirants are also not left out. Dr Bukola Saraki is also exploiting the unlimited opportunities offered by e-campaigns. His campaign is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Most presidential aspirants are now on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

As the polls draw nearer, the aspirants are expected to unfold more interesting strategies that will make the 2011 elections memorable.


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