Opinion: Nigerian Politics, Governance and Elections

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The fruits of democracy are in it’s dividends dispersed back to the electorate by elected political office holders, recognized and backed up by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigerian politics is technically coined after the definition of Harold Laswell in 1948 which says, “who gets what, when and how”. The game of political engineering has come a long way on the path of interest, godfatherism, power to violence, goody bags with brown envelopes and dark traditional powers. 

The Nigerian experience of politics is not that of human, capital, economic and social development but of the rise of an enclave, a family, caucus and a circle within which  movers and shakers of the billions reside. 

Bamigboye Olurotimi averred that “Only desperate and corrupt politicians use rigging, thuggery, vote buying, violence, trouble, assault, propaganda and lies to win an election to take over power by force”. This assertion defines the obvious election patterns in most of the States in Nigeria, as humiliating as it looks, the psychology of politicians have been fixed to it. 

The recent element added to the Nigerian electioneering circle is the supremacy of party  which has given rise to the emergence unworthy politicians at the helms of affairs within the country with its attendant implications on existence of poor infrastructural, social and economic developments.

On the other hand, godfatherism contributes to the dilapidated political structure in Nigeria. It refers to a situation where there’s a big man who wields enormous political power and then anoints a godson, whom he adopts as a candidate for an election.

The godfather does all that is reasonably possible to get the godson appointed into political office.

The godfather must be influential, most often they are, or were, a political office holder.” This is a dirty aspect of our polity that has landed the entire Nation in a doom because it can be seen defiling elections in almost all the States in Nigeria”.

Political accountability is an expected function of Government but it is a different ball game in the Nigerian territory as most political actors have no medium of accounting for their deeds back to those who elected them. This gives rise to “I don’t care attitude” of politicians because the constitution of the Nation can’t be effective in the eyes of porous and vulnerable atmosphere. 

Good governance gives out peace, serenity and consistency to the political climate of a country because it involves time to time dialogue between the leading and the led, it allows a round table discussion, so as to find out the pressing need of the electorate, proffering solutions and delivering the needs within the powers of the representatives. But in Nigeria, no one is accountable.

Vote buying is a disastrous, unfortunate and demeaning factor added to Nigerian political space which has thrown  us into  total lack of good Governance in distribution of basic amenities for human survival. It will be right to say that politicians go into offices to regain election cash flows before thinking of development which is right in the eyes of a sound thinking man, “you can’t eat your cake and have it”.

A court of law is meant to be the last hope of a common man, it is most times referred to as the “TEMPLE OF JUSTICE” where the poor and rich can have equal says on issues of conflicts and resolutions without threat to life, thuggery, violence and assaults but that is not obtainable within the confines of the Justice SYSTEM in Nigeria as the highest  bidder receives it. 

Similarly, the media is not left out of those milking the resources of Nigeria through paid propaganda, false public imaging and perceptions. Media houses deliberately get paid by political bourgeoises to deceive proletariat who are the main deciders of who gets what from the State pulse. As the Fourth Estate of the realms, the media also adds to the growing pains of the Nigerian populace which has reduced its value and integrity to right thinkers.

Religion has deepened the crises of our polity as it serves as prerequisite to getting elected into certain political offices in Nigeria, a religious scholar in the Northern part of Nigeria during the campaigns for 2019 Presidential elections publicly averred that it will be difficult for a Christian South-Easterner to become the President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria as the North has the highest political decision making population in Nigeria. They’re certain States with same ideology where if you don’t belong to a particular religion, no ruling opportunity.

Youth restiveness permeates electoral inconsistencies, this is because the main political gladiators hardly find themselves in polling units where elections are conducted. They simply empower our unemployed and jobless youth with #5000 each with guns and other life taking weapons for elections while the children of such politicians live fine with sound education. This accounts for electoral violence, killings and snatchings.

The Independent National Electoral Commission adds to the gruesome murder of democratic processes of elections, as alleged in some quarters during the 2019 elections in some States, INEC officials either secretly or openly have political parties which they stand to defend die hardly. This by common sense of reasoning will affect the credibility of an election’s outcome. In some instances, the officials are given sums of money that even their lawful incomes aren’t up-to, which is tempting to the mind.

Nigerian politicians only think of the next election after winning one, this is a bad political habit  that erodes away the mind for dolling out dividends of democracy to constituents and the entire electorate. The aftermath of victory as expected by the law is proper leadership, with its obvious effect of good life to electorate and alleviation of poverty as contained in the campaign manifestos.

Another major impediment to democratic processes in Nigeria is the power of the President to appoint and remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Such powers allows the Commander in Chief to bring on people from his enclave of trusted allies which in turn will affect justice system negatively. An appointed CJN can not act in line with the laws of the land to spur up justice against his boss, they are a million and one cases of justice perversion from this lineage of crime.

A ruling government usually sees an opposition party as permanent enemy being an offshoot of the fight that they both engaged in during elections. In some instances, the perceived political enemy remains till the end of the tenure of the ruling party even if they are constructive criticisms coming from them, this is a major challenge as well.

To proffer solutions to the problems mentioned, political office holders should act while in Government in line with the manifestos used for campaigns, the electorate should should be educated on holding their representatives responsible. Party’s supremacy politics should not be allowed as it will affect governance, godfatherism should not be allowed as it will control the direction to which a State’s resources should flow.

Political office holders should imbibe the culture of scheduling meeting with representatives of their constituencies on a regular basis for a dialogue as to how to meet the demands of their respective communities. Also, INEC should stop selling out uncollected PVCs to politicians and there should be proper remuneration of the commission’s staff so they don’t fall prey to money bag politicians.

Electorate should learn the value attached to their votes, selling a vote doesn’t make a good Nation,  it only keeps such in doom, pain and sufferings. Religion should not be a basis or requisite for a political appointment or winning elections because we were first humans before religions. The media should play responsible duties before, during and after elections. No one should be allowed to influence the constitutional duties of the media.

The youth that avails themselves of the opportunity to be used as instruments of destruction should be gainfully employed, there’s a saying that “an idle man is a devils’s workshop”. No busy man will have time to be used by politicians to destroy others.

Political office holders should learn the act of governance after elections and not calculating for the next elections.

The power to appoint and remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria should reside with the legislative duties of the Senate through nominations and referendum.

Nigeria will emerge the best in the community of nations of the world with the application of these recommendations.

– Chigboja Gideon wrote from Anyigba, Kogi State.

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