If NIGERIANS are determined to nurture their nascent democracy, it’s expected of them to keenly and extensively look inwards to unearth ‘built-in’ encumbrances that fetter the democratic process with a view to holistically and candidly addressing them. It is no more news that every electioneering era across the global community,
particularly on the African continent, invariably begets a set of underbellies that often prove its Achilles heel which ultimately rams it to early grave, if allowed to multiplicate.
If your thought is as good as mine, then you would agree with me that as campaign funds, the Nigeria’s political system is presently reeling under the throes of nauseous or toxic finances that continue to trigger ceaseless nightmares on a gullible polity and its teeming watcher, with many wondering whether there will be revolt vote in 2019?
But for now when the trend is not abating, having become an acceptable electoral culture that seemingly cuts across all elective posts, no one vying for any position should pride himself as an exception.
For instance, with someone aspiring for the post of the executive chairman of a local government council spending millions of naira in the process and might not even secure the anticipated position afterwards, your guess is as good as mine on the opulence that define electoral expenses of moneybags or their stooges whose eyes are training of higher elective officers. One may ask: what exactly are these aspirants really financing? Officially, they are expected to finance the purchase of their nomination and expression of interest forms.
The forms as being sold by various political parties to their respective members are reportedly exorbitant that the prospective office holders or aspirants, in most cases, have to borrow to foot the bills. Aside purchase of forms and other allied matters, the campaign process that usually succeeds the primary elections – thus preceding the main elections – is another avenue where the aspirants resort to indulging in money politics. If you are well informed, then you wouldn’t hesitate to concur with the survey that indicates that in the contemporary Nigerian society, for instance, the citizenry have been compelled to boldly and proudly sell their birthright for a mere pot of porridge yam. This show of shame cannot be unconnected with ignorance and/or poverty.
It’s noteworthy that whatever uncalled practice being showcased by the electorate is arguably attributable to the liberty granted to the teeming politicians to ‘mess around’ while canvassing for a given political office. It can’t be argued that every practising politician in Nigeria that’s seeking for any position of authority has the ‘right’ to spend any sum of money in the process. It’s worth noting that, in this case, not just the electorate are at the receiving side. The so-called political gladiators are equally lavished with bags of money by the aspirants in order to buy their consent. This very act often precedes the primary election of a given party.
All these are the cogent reasons an aspirant who’s not financially buoyant would be left with no choice than to accept the lending hand of a godfather, which in the long run, might bastardize his/her political career. Sometimes, it’s even the aspirants that go about seeking for who would sponsor their ambitions. Since politics has regrettably been considered as an investment or business venture, rather than an avenue to render selfless service, what else would you expect from an average politician who eventually clinched victory at the polls?
Such a person, if he assumes duty, wouldn’t fail to please the desires of the political mafia. In view of the above, most of the funds budgeted for various infrastructural/developmental projects in the concerned locality might be siphoned into the private purse of a godfather, thereby relegating governance to the background. This singular act has overtime crippled our god-sent nascent democracy. In a situation where the demands of the bigwig aren’t met, the society may be plunged into shambles. Apart from the financial implications of godfatherism, a certain godfather might at anytime decide to unseat his beneficiary. This kind of case was recently sighted in Lagos State in the melodrama that ensued between the sitting governor, Mr. AkinwunmiAmbode and the erstwhile governor, Chief Bola Tinubu.
It has been, and is still, occurring ubiquitously. What’s the way out of this quagmire? First, we must completely silence the ongoing high rate of nomination forms introduced by the various parties. This can be made possible by specifying in the Electoral Act the maximum price any party should charge for each of the forms to be purchased by their members aspiring for different offices. More so, any aspirant ought to be mandated by law to declare his/her assets. Hence, after the elections, the electoral umpire would be required to crosscheck the affected assets towards ascertaining how much the aspirant actually ‘invested’ in the campaign activity.
The aspirants must be mandated not to exceed a certain threshold in regard to expenditure in accordance with the position he’s biding for. If he’s found culpable after the thorough investigations, he would be charged to court for onward prosecution. If found guilty, such a politician should not just pay fine but be jailed.
This would strongly help to eradicate godfatherism. The electorate must, on their part, be reasonable. It’s unequivocally only insane person that could freely mortgage his/her future merely for peanut’s sake. Thus, everything centres on amending our existing individual and collective policies. Think about it!
Comrade Nwaozor, Policy Analyst and Rights Activist, is the National Coordinator, Right Thinkers Movement.