A survey on the performance index of the political parties in the 2019 general elections in Nigeria has shown that outcome of the election was commensurate to the amount of media space allotted by the media to the activities of the political parties as the APC and the PDP garnered 88.58 percent of media coverage
A survey on the performance index of the political parties in the 2019 general elections in Nigeria has shown that outcome of the election was commensurate to the amount of media space allotted by the media to the activities of the political parties as the APC and the PDP garnered 88.58 percent of media coverage out of all the registered political parties.
The media survey conducted by the International Press Centre (IPC), Nigeria’s foremost media development organisation, shows that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition People’ Democratic Party (PDP) were the most reported of the 91 registered political parties in Nigeria with 54.43% and 34.15% respectively.
The survey, conducted under component 4b: Support to the media of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) represents the outcome of media tracking between January and March 2019, covering the period when the electorates went to the polls. It focuses on the coverage of political parties among in twelve major newspapers in Nigeria. These include: The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust and Blue Print. Others are The Cable and Premium Times.
According to the report, out of the ninety one registered political parties seventy-three were reported with 5,080 mentions. Of these, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) got the highest number of mentions at 2,765 times (54.43%), followed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which got 1,735 mentions (at 34.15%) while the rest shared a paltry of 11.42%.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) got 107 mentions (2%); All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), 84 mentions (at 1.64%); African Democratic Congress (ADC), 69 mentions (at 1.36%); Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), 46 mentions (1%). While Young Progressives Party (YPP) got 42 mentions (0.83%), Allied People’s Movement (APM) got 40 mentions (at 0.8%)
Going by the frequency of mentions by the newspapers under review, the survey shows that The Nation newspaper had the highest number of mentions on the activities of the All Progressives Party (APC) with 377 mentions (7.42%), followed by Daily Sun newspapers with 301 mentions (5.93%).
Mentions of the activities of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) peaked in the Vanguard with 199 mentions (3.92%), while ThisDay and Nigerian Tribune came next with 191 mentions each at (3.76%).
Social Democratic Party (SDP) had the highest of 18 mentions (0.35%) in The Punch while Vanguard had the highest of 14 mentions (0.28%) for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Nigerian Tribune reported African Democratic Congress (ADC) the most with 31 mentions (0.61%).
Political Party Mentions: The January—March, 2019 Score Card
Media Mentions Blue
Print Daily Sun Daily Trust Leadership Nigerian Tribune Premium Times The Cable The Guardian The Nation The Punch ThisDay Vanguard Total
APC 228 301 206 284 230 109 92 174 377 278 188 298 2,765
PDP 151 184 139 146 191 77 83 115 137 191 122 199 1,735
Others 45 52 45 56 107 21 7 30 35 84 31 67 580
Total 424 537 390 486 528 207 182 319 549 553 341 564 5,080
By: International Press Centre (IPC) Lagos-Nigeria
APC, PDP Score-Card in 2019 Elections
Considering the report of the IPC’s survey, and in juxtaposition to media report of how political parties fared in the 2019 elections, observations show that APC and PDP put up the kind of performance almost similar to the quantum of coverage allotted to them in the media.
As reported by the Premium Times, of 36 states of the federation, the cumulative performance of both parties shows that APC retains its grip in 20 states, representing 55.6%, while PDP moved up to 15 states, representing 41.7%.
By: International Press Centre (IPC) Lagos-Nigeria
Media’s roles in reporting political parties in an election cannot be wished away. They play very significant roles in projecting the parties, serving as a platform through which parties reach the electorates. And because we are in a world of two-way communication, media serve as an avenue through which electorates scrutinise and engage with parties and their candidates.
In essence, without media, we cannot have democracy, neither can we have good governance. It’s often said that “parties carry the potentials of achieving changes on an otherwise impossible scale.” Hence, it’s important that the media give greater and equitable coverage to all political parties in an election.
What has played out in the coverage of political parties in the last election, according to the survey shows that media reportage is tilted towards supposedly big, richer and more influential political parties, giving less attention to some and ignoring many others? What has transpired also shows that political parties’ chances in any election depends on their strength, size, and financial power to penetrate the media. The performance index between APC and PDP in this report shows that parties’ access to the media space has become a metaphor of the camel passing through the eye of the needle for other parties, without financial war-chest.
Juxtaposing parties’ performance and media coverage
Parties States Election Results Parties Media Coverage
APC 20 55.6% APC 54.43%
PDP 15 41.7% PDP 34.15%
What the media code of election coverage says
Under the “Equitable Access,” section 1, sub-section 1.0 states that: The performance of campaign platform and public forum role of the media during elections requires deference to the right of parties and candidates in elections to equitable media access…
Sub-section 1.1.2. states that: A media organisation shall regularly apply the principle of equity in the coverage and reportage of campaigns and other activities of parties and candidates contesting elections…
When the principle of equitable access is missing in the coverage of political parties, candidates and their activities, media’s credibility and trust in social contract are at stake.
It’s unfortunate that much of the issues around political financing is still shrouded in secrecy, and it’s difficult to be able to come out straight on whether or not there is anything like ‘media buying’. However, in a system whereby greater percentage of the media is owned and financed by politicians in the so-called big parties, the road to free press is a long one.
To conclude, apart from the Nigerian media code of election coverage to which ninety-percent of the Nigerian media subscribed, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance also set out obligations on State Parties to the Charter, among which is “to ensure fair and equitable access by contesting parties and candidates to state-controlled media during elections”. This essence encompasses all media of mass communication, private or public. Media should strive at all times to avoid giving wrong impression that election coverage is for the highest bidders.