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MONEY POLITICS: A CLOG TO DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS IN NIGERIA By Olajide Omotayo

Date:

It is becoming instructive to set the record straight about the decadence that has bedeviled our democracy—which had from time eaten deep into our electoral process, sociopolitical thoughts and our sovereignty as Nigerians. More confusing as the topic might be, revolution of thoughts is urgently needed in the midst of millions of voters that have become more relevant in contemporary political society. It is needed to say however, that the consequence of the poor state of our democracy has been proven to be a major threat to the deliver-ability of our politicians who merely see us as deplorable ones.

One of the major problem that has continued to crippled our progressiveness and democratic practices even after the country had succeeded in driving away the military juntas, a consequential effects of the June 12, 1993, where Nigerians trooped out in millions to elect their leaders without recourse to monetary gains experienced in our modern day politics—our democratic practice today, has deviated in its entirety from the June12 Philosophy which imbibed the culture of hope to millions of Nigerians suffering from various socioeconomic problems.

It is imperative to state that our politics after the advent of democracy has been largely monetized—large in proportion compare to other countries such as Japan, Philippines, Northern Portugal, Taiwan, Benin, among others. More reasons why Nigeria’s former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had to raise alarm about the rising spate of money politics in Nigeria at a forum in 2003.

” Even more worrisome, however, is the total absence of any control on spending by candidates and parties towards election. I have said that we prepare for elections as if we are going to war, and I can state without hesitation, drawing from my previous life, that parties and candidates together spent during last election, more that could have been needed to fight successful war. The will of the people cannot find expression and flourish in the face of so much money directed solely to achieving victory. Elective offices become more commodities to be purchased by the highest bidder, and those who literally invest merely see it as an avenue to recoup and make profit. Politics becomes business, and the business of politics becomes merely to divert funds from the crying needs of our people for real development in their lives.”

Even though the former president was right in his assertions, but forgetting that the problems of money politics being a long term problem was consolidated during the eight-year regime of the former president. Little was done beyond the hypocritical talks to make policies that would checkmate the excessiveness of politicians who had noticed that the poor becomes more vulnerable to money and gift because of lack of access to money occasioned by high unemployment rate. For the record, the 2007 and 2011 elections were the most monetized election in the history of Nigeria.

The investors (politicians) seize the opportunity of power of state after emergence to inflict suffering on the citizens because the billions spent on the elections had to be recovered. More reasons why political appointments have continued to be reserved to those who spent monies to sponsor campaigns as a way of compensation to them, thereby, neglecting competency to tackle overwhelming problems of the country.

Today, such global phenomenon that translated into business ventures still thrives in its illegal paradigm among people. The syndrome of “share the money” by prospects voters continued to echo and reverberates in the nooks and crannies of the society. The factors responsible for this have been proven to include poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, etc.

For example, during the 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State, I was privileged to work with Olusola Oke, SAN, who contested afterwards under the umbrella of Alliance for Democracy. From where our campaign train voyaged, people care less about our ideology. They are recalcitrant to know our manifesto, but, instead interested in asking what the governorship aspirant have for them. So sad!

Same phenomenon occurred during the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti, while, I worked closely with Senator Babafemi Ojudu, during the pre- primary epoch, perceived poverty, unemployment, readiness to sell votes were all over the prospects voters faces. The erudite scholar and successful politician could not utter ideological words without echo of “share the money” from the people. My principal therefore had to withdraw from primary election when it has dawned on him about the influx of monetary romance with the delegates.

It is also on records that during my electioneering days, as an aspirant of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, and as a then student union president of my town, my manifesto never went down well with the poor, downtrodden ones and less privileged. My manifesto of using legislative tool to liberate them from shackles of poverty was discarded until I struggled to reel out some funds and food materials before I could be given little attention.

One major implication of this ugly phenomenon is the denial of transparency, accountability and deliverability in the electoral processes and democratic consolidation. Little wonder most politicians in the country lacks integrity outside the shores of the country owing to the mistrust that has bedeviled the country’s democracy.

Therefore, one can easily conclude that, there is urgent need for reorientation of minds of our voters to see election beyond a tool for exploitation or seeking undue advantage from aspirants, as there have been enough evidences that the people would suffer the over exploitation of the politician if he eventually wins. Little wonder the constitutional duties of elected officers which includes Security of lives and properties of citizens, Welfare among others in section14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution have been rendered jeopardy. It however in line, to term the scenario happening in the country political space as one tending to a failed society.

As long as the corruption in the sociopolitical space of the country is not tamed, people would never have ceased from viewing politics from the angle of “dirty game”. They would not seem to see the politicians as a true agent of change. This is a counter philosophy of the western world, who cherish ideology to inducement for the purpose of voting.

The abnormal rate of unemployment in the country needs urgent attention by politicians as this would cause a drastic change in the caterwauling state of our people who are merely interested in mundane gains.

Our electoral process must be stiffed to votes buyers as a way of ameliorating the phenomenon. This can be done by a sincere electoral act that would seeks a democratic consolidation path aimed at solving this ugly trend in the country.

In practice, most of the failures in the civilian rule of many African countries have been capitalized on by the Military to usurp power from the civilians. But, this revolution cannot solve this long term electoral problem in the country.

Olajide is a former aspirant for Ekiti State House of Assembly. He writes from Omuo Ekiti via Olajidesamuel5050@gmail.com

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