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INVESTIGATION: How APC, PDP “rent crowd” to fill up campaign venues

INVESTIGATION: How APC, PDP “rent crowd” to fill up campaign venues

The huge turnout of crowd in the recent campaigns by Nigeria’s major political parties is part of the deal struck with a mobilization company, this newspaper can authoritatively report.

Disguising like a potential client for weeks, Trisha Mainama, the spokesperson of People Mobilization Limited, a mobilization company renowned for “renting crowd”, disclosed this to this newspaper in an exclusive interview with him.

The company also called for more patronage, especially for the governorship elections and beyond.

“Our job is to mobilize, and we use our professional trainings to ensure that this is done beautifully. Did you see the Kano crowd of the APC and the PDP? We are good at what we do. Try us.

“We have offices in states nationwide and we have links to the Royal fathers, community leaders and the landlord association members in all the states of the federation, including the FCT. So, mobilizing people from the grassroots is quite easy for us.

“There are times this is not enough. So we partner with neighbouring countries to get people from them. You remember the governors from Niger Republic who were at the APC rally in Kano? We did it,” he boasted.

Buhari pulled an early strike with his rented crowd in Kano

He further explained that it is part of their job to give tips to attendees who might have not eaten anything all day but would still risk being under the scorching sun to “Sai baba” or be “atikulated”.

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“Our major client, especially in this season of politicking, is APC and PDP. We can’t joke with them. You know, the more the crowd they pull, the louder the message of popularity they tend to send. That is why we deliver, always. Our result is what speaks for us, oga.

“Of course, you have to give tips to these locals to make them turnout even when they have reasons not to. We consider this when we charge our customers. This is why our charges may seem high

Although, he did not state the exact amount charged to mobilize crowd, he hinted that the “amount depends on the client, the purpose of the mobilization and the hugeness of the crowd intended.”

“Our charges vary. It all depends on the package you pay for. A price is fixed ones we know the population you wish to pull, and the time frame also matters. How educated the people in the community from which you want us to mobilize from is also a factor we consider.

A 2018 report by Democracy for All in Nigeria (DAN) shows that massive turnout for rally doesn’t correlate with massive turnout for vote. Also, the report adds, the crowd generated by a political party in a state does not suggest such party would get as much votes in such state. In fact, the report reads, they may not eventually get a five-digit number of votes “as past elections have shown”.

Although it is unclear why political parties “hire crowd” to attend campaign rally, a political engineer, Atiku Buhari, suggested that it is all a psychological jab which politicians throw at each other.

According to him, politicians target huge crowd to have psychological effects on the people and their opponents. “Also,” he told us, “if in the end they lose by a wide margin in the said state, they can easily say the state was rigged, and make reference to their rally where they pulled large number of supporters.

“When you pull huge crowd, chances are that some people would follow the crowd at the polls. It is more of a psychological strategy. And you know, voters tend to vote for the person that seems more powerful, people who can pull the largest crowd; so that, as they call it, they won’t waste their votes.”

Independent investigation by this newspaper shows that persons who attend an APC rally are almost as certain to attend a PDP rally.

A classic example is Salimatu Umar who was seen putting on an APC customized shirt and a PDP customized wrapper. She said her mission was to get more souvenirs and “see the big men [top political leaders in the country] for the first time”.

“I don’t think it matters. What I’m wearing is what I have. If I stay at home, how will I get more? At least the next time I’d have this opportunity is in 4 years’ time. Let me get what I can get now.”

According to our investigation, 30 per cent of the people interviewed don’t have a PVC, and 20% are not sure they will vote. 10 per cent said they won’t vote at all. Only 50 per cent have the plan to vote.

Of this 50 per cent, 20 per cent said they would vote another party different from the party whose rally they attended.

Nigeria holds her presidential election on February 16. Her governatorial – oh my! – sorry, gubernatorial elections hold on March 2.

Caveat: This is a work of satire. Names or anything that has semblance with them, persons, wise or otherwise, offices, high or low, authorities, constituted or unconstituted, are as a result mixture of the author’s imagination and inspiration from Above, and any semblance of actual persons, far or near, organizations or body is the handiwork of Mr Coincidence. You have been told. Don’t say we haven’t!

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I, Bayode Otitokoro, fell in love with the truth from childhood. My mantra is: in an unjust society silence is a crime. With satire, I will clad my society in the attire of sanity.

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