All is almost set for the 2015 elections as virtually all party primaries have been concluded. Candidates are now setting the ball rolling and putting mechanism in place to ensure they emerge winners in the forthcoming general elections.
This period is expected to be the period where politicians throw money around to buttress their campaigns in various forms. Posters, fliers, billboards usually dominate the streets while adverts usually fill the newspaper canvassing for one candidate or political party as the case may be.
The broadcast media is also engulfed with commercials and jingles giving publicity to one candidate or the other, all in a bid to win the heart of electorates.
Political spending is always a big issue in any democracy. For the developed economies, there are clear rules and regulations guiding fundraising and funding of electioneering activities, which must be clearly documented and accounted for at the end of the elections.
That is not so for developing countries like Nigeria. Here, much more money is spent on elections but nobody ever accounts for what he/she spent. For instance, although clearance for electoral campaigns was only recently given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but the two major parties of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) started their campaigns much earlier.
Each of them insisted that rallies are different from campaigns. Nonetheless, millions are spent to mobilise supporters, fund transportation, hotel accommodation, live bands and even pay allowances to rented crowds.
In this vein it is believed that politicians engage any form of medium that may increase their chances of getting elected. This ranges from the media; both broadcast and print; printers of posters, fliers, banners, customised shirts and the likes. Political office seeking candidate also make use of bloggers, social media marketing, bulk SMS, and other means of publicity that enables them better chances of being elected.
And for a country which the World Bank says at least 120 million of its estimated 175 million citizens live in abject poverty, these activities may likely lead to increase in the circulation of cash during this electoral cycle.
Graphic designers and Printers in the UTC arena of Area 10, Garki in Abuja attest that election period is usually the time when printers make their money.
In fact, some of them who spoke with Economic Confidential tag election period as ‘season for the printers’. According to Richard who has spent many years as a printer in different parts of Abuja, printing is a continuous process and they tend to get better patronage at times of election.
The little constraint in making money from politicians during elections has to do with establishing direct or indirect link with politicians. He explained that printers that are connected to politicians tend to have better chances of business boom during elections than those without any contacts with politicians.
He further buttressed that many printers have hit it big during particular elections and the following electoral season will may bring forth nothing. This is usually as a result of change in
administration when new faces get into government and it will be the turn of others to be in good business.
Same goes for media houses during election. Abuja Bureau Chief of The Nation newspaper, Yomi Odunuga revealed that every media practitioner knows that election is the period when media houses make money from numerous advertorials.
According to him ‘Politicians try to dominate newspapers by buying important pages for their political campaigns. Politicians usually do wrap-around adverts, that is, they pay for front page, middle pages and the page before the last. These pages are usually the most expensive in print media’. In this vein, media houses make a lot of money during elections. A quick check from some leading newspapers reveal that placing political advert on the front page costs between N25 million and N30 million per slot.
It is not only media houses as entities that earn money during elections. Even regular reporters also get opportunities to be contracted by politicians for writing political commentaries, drafting advert copies and even writing speeches. This is apart from commissions they get from their organisations on every advert they attract to their newspapers.
This is to say, election period is also a period of economic boom for journalists and reporters alike. The broadcast medium is not left out as politicians usually sponsor radio and television shows in order to give them the opportunity to publicise their manifestoes.
In trying to sell their manifestoes to the general public, politicians do everything possible to create a good image of themselves. This is where the activities of public relations (PR) firms come into play in times of elections. PR firms according to a popular practitioner, Alhaji Yushau Shuaibu try to know the profile and background of their client and package it to the public. Thus in times of elections, PR firms are contracted for development of campaign strategies and slogans in order to provide a good selling point for political office seekers.
Furthermore, the social media has become a very serious avenue for sharing information and campaign materials. Social media is one of the most powerful tools available today for promoting causes and reaching out to a large audience. This explains why political office aspirants try to exploit social media during election campaigns. In this vein, citizens with good social media profile and huge followership, are likely going to make politicians part with some currency.
Bloggers and other social media specialists are also baring their minds on the way they make money during elections. A particular twitter handle is dedicated to a particular candidate as the elections are fast approaching. The number of social media posts or tweets per day determines the wages received.
This is another way in which an average Nigerian makes money during elections compared to when things are quiet. This also has to do with either direct or indirect contact with politicians.
All the same, it is another way in which cash flows around the economy.
While many shop owners and market women fail to notice significant difference between political cycles and other seasons in terms of flow, itinerant traders disagree.
A class of traders have become specialists in identifying political rally and campaign venues as veritable sources of brisk business.
These ones sell food items, snacks, assorted drinks, caps, T-Shirts and other gift items during such occasions that have become quite frequent in the last few months. Apart from regular businessmen, research reveals that an average Nigerians usually earn some money during rallies. A large chunk of individuals accosted at one such rally said that they get between N2000 and N5000 for attending political campaigns and rallies simply identifying with and chanting slogans of political parties and stalwarts.
Even for automobile dealers and transporters electoral periods are better than others with politicians either renting or out rightly purchasing vehicles for campaign activities. This is because aspirants for political offices travel a lot during election campaigns in a bid to spread word of their ambitions and manifestos as widely as possible. A particular aspirant in Kaduna State purchased 20 SUVs even before his party’s primaries.
It is pertinent to say that, election periods does not connote about sharing of money only. Politicians also share various materials in order to win votes of the electorates. Just few months ago, two prominent contenders of the upcoming Ekiti State Governorship election, incumbent Governor Ayo Fayose and Dr. Kayode Fayemi who was defeated in the electoral contest decided share both cooked and raw rice in other to win sympathy of the electorate. As a matter of fact, voters were pictured with petit bags of rice while voting was going on in the state. Politicians in Zamfara have decided to copy this winning strategy as part of their preparations for the 2015 elections.
Economists may argue that more money circulates during elections and it’s a period of economic boom for Nigerians. This may be the reason why Central Bank of Nigeria last year, moved to tighten liquidity ahead of the forthcoming elections as it raised the Cash Reserves Requirements (CRR) for private sector deposits by 300 basis points from 12 per cent to 15 per cent. The CRR is the amount of funds that the banks have to keep with the CBN and it determines the volume of cash in circulation within a given period of time.
In a nutshell, if the central bank decides to increase the CRR, the available amount with the banks reduces while lending rate also increases. The decision to increase the CRR for private sector funds was taken at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting held at the apex bank’s headquarters in Abuja.
The increase in private sector CRR, according to analysts would enable the apex bank to withdraw over N300 billion from circulation through the deposit money banks. This was seen as a deliberate effort to curb seasonal inflation,