In Nigeria, preparations for the campaigns have begun now that the Independent National Electoral Commission has released the voter registration lists.
One of the states where campaigning is expected to be fierce is the oil-rich Rivers State. The incumbent governor, Chibuike Amaechi, is expected to face a formidable opposition led by his predecessor, Peter Odili. Already candidates for the Opposition Action Congress and the Labor Party have accused him of neglecting the rural areas, thereby encouraging militancy.
Gov. Amechi denies the charges. He points to the World Bank rating of his state as one of the few in Nigeria making progress in development of the infrastructure and transparency in the use of government resources.
David Iyiofor is the head of information and publicity for Gov. Amaechi’s campaign organization. He says his boss is ready to go door to door statewide to seek votes for another term in office.
The governor will not rest on the achievements of his first term, says Iyiofor.
“We are very prepared for the campaign. For us, from day one, we have decided that our campaign would be issue-based. We want to talk about issues and not about throwing dirt at anyone. Our campaign will be based on what the governor has done in the past three years and what he intends to do when he comes back into office.”
Iyiofor says the governor will respond strongly to any attempt by the opposition question his achievements since he took office three years ago.
“Although we do not want to be dragged into the opposition name calling and mudslinging, we will definitely, if the need arises, clear the air on some of the allegations.”
Iyiofor denies claims by the opposition that it has huge support among the local population. He says those running to replace Gov. Amaechi are strangers who are out of touch with the expectations and needs of the people.
Many of the opposition politicians now seeking votes in Rivers State have been away from the state for a long time, says Iyiofor. “They [haven’t lived] here for over three years. Now it’s election time and they appear from nowhere to say, ‘Vote for me’ and going all over the place making wild allegations.”