Running For Office Isn’t A Tea Party Many Think It Is

By Uche Nnadozie

When you hear Peter Obi ramble his sentences, miss his lines and generally look disheveled, it’s simply because he has significantly altered his daily routine.

Running any campaign is not a tea party. Running a political campaign is as tough as nail. You have to be seen and you must talk. The hours upon hours put into all manner of meetings make 24hours look like child’s play; yet you are still expected to put in another 24 hours for the public. Campaign is an unending stage show. You must perform!

Atiku Abubakar for example will have to take care of his health, personal issues, family, friends and community. Then he will need to also see to his other work or business outside politics. That’s crazy schedule and I don’t envy those who throw their hats in the ring.

For an outlier party in the case of Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso they must make up for the fact that their platforms are less known with poor if not non-existent structure.

Running a presidential campaign by a small party also means constantly being in peoples’ faces. The easier way of achieving this is by courting the mass media. Trying to stamp a structure with poor funding and fewer membership is simply impossible in the short term.

For the smaller parties like ADC and SDP, they just exist for other purposes; surely not to make an impact much less win election.

I think it was the former Inspector General of Police Mike Mbama Okiro that revealed how he nearly went bankrupt because somebody convinced him to run for the lone FCT Senate seat. Politicians kept asking for funds until he had none to give, then pulled out of the race.

That’s just one senatorial district out of 109!

It gets worse if you run on the platform of a major party.

In Nigeria, when you run for president let’s say on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), you have 22 governors to massage their egos, over 60 senators to lobby – it gets tricky where you have a senator who is not in good terms with his state governor. You must device a way to manage the two politcians, their egos and those of their caucuses within the state.

You also have House of Representatives members on another hand. There are more than 200 of them who are APC members. At the state level, you have lawmakers there too. Lawmakers from 22 states where you have governors and from the other 14 states where you don’t have governors but may have assembly men.

There are also council chairmen from around the country. There’re former this, former that and different shapes of politcians, principalities and powers. You must meet them or at least their leaders.

Then of course pressure groups will wait patiently by the corner. From religious to regional, to zonal, to ethnic. There are professional, business, trade, special needs, women groups, youth, and all manner of groups to attend their events.

You still have the media to contend with, answer questions, attend interview sessions, make pitches, photo sessions, etc. It’s a tough call.

Then you have to attend rallies all over the country. Flying from state to state, sometimes from city to city.

In the process, you have to watch what you say to people in different parts of the country. You have to attend sessions with your team where you are prepped for rehearsals to determine what to say and how. Of course, there are debates and townhalls which must be prepared for.

In all of these, the candidate is expected to be present. Bola Tinubu for example is expected to put up an appearance. No one expects illness. You are simply immortal. Big politicians don’t fall ill. It’s like a big football player or musician. You must perform with pain!

Now we are yet to talk about the humongous funds involved in this business. Funds to cover 36 states, 774 local governments is not cheap. You must give shishi!

Logistics and transportation alone is herculean. Hiring private jets, motorcade including procuring different versions of amoured cars, setting up venues for rallies, townhalls, etc. Ensuring that other materials like handbills, posters, memorabilia are made available in every state and local governments.

In all of this you are unsure if you will win. You are just optimistic while carrying the weary burden of your inner circle, team members and general supporters.

The very difficult schedule and insatiable expectations from the public for the candidate to merely show up and identify with them is a learning that even the public needs to appreciate.

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