Home OPINION COLUMNISTS What Is Political Rally, And What Is Campaign? By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

What Is Political Rally, And What Is Campaign? By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

Yusuf Ozi-Usman
Yusuf Ozi-Usman

I am aware that Professor Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not obtain his Ph D in English language, but, I can testify to his mastery of the language. I have had the opportunity of hearing him both at close and long ranges, spoke English and, have since concluded that he is, indeed, in the grasp of all the intricacies of Queen English.
And, when therefore, the INEC which he heads, gave directive to all the Nigerian politicians a couple of months ago, not to start political campaign until the whistle is blown, it was understood that he understood the meaning and letters of political campaign. It also means that any person doing something contrary to the meaning and letters of that directive is either daring Jega and his INEC or Jega and his INEC are looking the other way.
The first important lesson a student in elementary English or political science would be taught is that a rally is a group of people shearing ideas on certain issues, usually in an informal gathering, whereas campaign is all about exposing product or idea for sale, either at a rally, in secluded place or by way of media advertisement.
In other words, you cannot hold rally without campaigning but you can campaign without holding rally.
I am surprised that Jega, with all the “turenchi” (grammar) his INEC has been blowing, decided to keep mum and watch as political campaigns are being held around Nigeria by the nation’s politicians who cleverly assigned another name to it: unity rally.
It is not clear whether or not Jega’s INEC decided to pretend not to know that it’s no-campaign directive is being messed up by some politicians chief among them, of course, Is the President of Nigeria and commander in chief of the armed forces, as well as the chief security officer of the country, Dr. Chief Goodluck Jonathan, leading his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) along?
In recent times, the President has been cross-crossing parts of the country with PDP top functionaries: national chairman, Board of Trustees chairman, some governors, et al, to receive the returnees to PDP from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), and have, at each occasion, usually in open space, seized the opportunity to sell the goodness of and campaign for PDP. He was in, among other places, Sokoto to receive former governor Attahiru Bafarawa and, only last week, he was in Kaduna to receive some none descript returnees. And as if the President was begging Nigerians to understand him or begging the issue, he would first drum it before he began his advertisement of PDP’s quality that what he was doing was not political campaign but unity rally. It is as if by merely saying that it automatically changes the reality that it is campaign, pure and simple.
In fact, at each rally, President Jonathan would mount the podium, shout PDP slogan and launch vitriolic attack on and lampoon the people in other political parties, in deed, the APC. He would white-wash and clean-up PDP and received ovation from the supporters and potential supporters for good and courageous talk. And, in doing so, can anyone please interpret the action of the President to me? Was it campaign rally or rally to campaign or simply confusion or evasion of electoral law or Presidential authority?
It beats my imagination as to when the President comes to campaign, how he would do it differently from how he has been doing it at the unity rallies so far.

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