Nigerian printers miss out on poll boom Shimatex Prints CEO Joel Mtsor

ABUJA. – A loud whir filled the back of a print shop in Nigeria’s capital Abuja as machines churn out grinning faces of presidential election frontrunners on posters, flyers and food packaging.

Workers poured cassava flour into blue and green bags sporting the governing All Progressives Congress party’s acronym and stashed them next to a pile of red and green opposition rice packets. The advertising campaign season is in full throttle.

The run-up to a vote is usually a chance for small businesses like Shimatex Prints to cash in on election paraphernalia ranging from hats and flip-flops to tissue boxes and cooking oil labels.

But business has been slower than usual ahead of the February 25 vote as candidates have hinged more campaigning on social media.

“Printing-wise [there is] not much difference in our orders,” said Shimatex Prints CEO Joel Mtsor, recalling busier periods around 2011, 2015 and 2019 polls.

“A few souvenirs, a few campaign materials, a few billboards. But the impact on the print industry is not as good as it was,” he said.

Nigerians will vote for a new leader to replace President Muhammadu Buhari amid growing insecurity and economic hardship. The three frontrunners have promised to reduce living costs, boost growth and tackle rising levels of violence.

As Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria is home to tens of millions of internet users, prompting candidates to compete for voters’ eye-balls across popular platforms such as Facebook, Tiktok, Twitter and YouTube. – Reuters

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