2019 Presidential Election: Eminent researchers and scholars are set to conduct a mixed-method research that explores how the various media forms and communication channels were used in the last presidential election in Nigeria.

The study, which is being undertaken by multi-sector media researchers and industry experts, would seek to underpin the role and influence of the various mass media in political campaigns before, during and after the 2019 Presidential Election, which was keenly contested between President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, alongside other contenders. It intends to provide insights on how voting choices may have been influenced by media content and channels.

It would be recalled that the 2019 Presidential Election was conducted under a much-heightened media campaign, which had generated serious interests locally and globally.

The project, which is undertaken as a joint initiative of North Dakota State University (NDSU) Fargo, USA, UNESCO-ORBICOM (a global network of international communication professors and practitioners headquartered at the University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada) and Corporate and Financials (C&F) Potter Novelli (a leading public relations and corporate communication agency based in Lagos), would explore the use of advertising, public relations and other technics as well as the roles of television, radio, social media and other media forms during the 2019 Presidential Election.

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Additionally, the study seeks of explore various social, economic, political, religious and cultural issues that had shaped the election as reflected in the media and the framing of these issues by various journalists and their medium, and also the influence of same on attitude and perception of electorates towards various political parties, political actors and political agents. It also intends to review the nature and structure of media contents, reporting perspectives, use of social media, and nature of input by consultants who designed some of the communication materials.

In order to build the capacity of the research teams, several workshops have been held in the past month at different locations within Nigeria. The workshops, which were held at different cities in Nigeria starting in Lagos, at the University of Lagos, then in Akwa, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University and finally in Abuja, were designed to expose research team members to the fundamentals and advanced methods of conducting communication research.

Professor. Charles Okigbo, a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at North Dakota State University (NDSU) based in Fargo in the United States of America, and a former Registrar of the Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON) is the lead of the research project.

Prof Okigbo hinted that the essence of the research project is to unravel new insights about how communication plays a role in elections, using Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Elections as a case in point. He is confident that by participating at the various workshops, the research team would be adequately prepared and exposed to new methods in communication research with a view to finding new facts about how the media can influence or shape election outcomes.

He further assured that the outcome of the study will be beneficial to all stakeholders, especially policy planners, communication policy actors, development agencies involved in the election monitoring process, but more importantly to the government, the academic community and political communicators. Prof. Okigbo disclosed that the study will deploy advanced research instruments and methods, both qualitative and qualitative, such as ethnographic content analysis, critical incidents analysis and survey methods.

The research team is comprised of experts who are dedicated to print media, radio, television, advertising, public relations, and social media as key communications technics and platforms to be studied. The various teams within the research group would be led by renowned communication scholars drawn from across Schools of Media and Communications in Nigeria. Among them is Dr. Abigail Ogwezzy-Nskika who is a Professor of Communication at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos. The research team also boasts of some very well-tested scholars and practitioners including Prof Onuorah Nwuneli, who is an advisory member, Dr. Ada Peters, Prof. Osa Amienyi, Dr. Oladipo Osho, Nkechi-Ali Balogun, Dr. Ibe Onoja, Chido Nwakanma, Dr. Gregory Obinna Ugbo, Dr. Ifeoma Dunu, Prof. Umaru Pate, Dr. Allen Adum, Dr. Henry Duru, Mrs Stella Jibrin and Dr. Nura Ibrahims amongst many others.

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