WE SAY NO TO MONEY POLITICS IN NIGERIANov 192017
WE SAY NO TO MONEY POLITICS
Gentlemen of the press, we as patriotic Nigerians, concerned by her future are worried by the increasing threats to our electoral processes as well as our evolving democracy. Much as the nation is gradually inching toward another election year, it is needful and rightfully so, to have helped reposition and enhance the nations democratic resilience against challenges that had continues to undermine and slow it down.
Elections remain a key part of the whole process. Electoral processes offer a gateway to democratic consolidation. Election is the hallmark of a democratic society, as our elections and electoral process are key and fundamental to the working of every democratic setting in modern state. Thus, realizing this very important import of credible election, means that we as a people must continue to do our very best to ensure that our electoral process are never compromised nor the electoral laws abused and enfeebled.
It is a common but sad knowledge that Nigeria's electoral process has continue to betray and fallen short of what the electoral process should mean or ought to be for a democratic society. Since its attainment of independence in 1960, Nigeria has been inundated and tormented by series of political instability. Violence-fuelled largely by an electoral process that is accompanied with political thuggery and violence, electoral malpractices both at the general elections are at the political levels.
The first post independence national elections of 1964 and 1965 in western region were characterized by widespread rigging, arson, intimidation, chaos, that led to mass boycott and subsequent military take over.
The 1978 general election, which saw the emergence of Alhaji Shehu Shagari,as civilian president, according to international observers, was characterized by massive rigging. The same with the 1983 reelection of Shagari. the political violence and polling irregularities were also witnessed in the subsequent general elections of 1999,2003, and 2007.thus,regretably so, political violence, thuggery, intimidation, assault, corruption and money politics has become a recurring decimating decimals of our democratic journey so far, and it gives us much cause for concerns and remains the critical threats posed to our evolving democracy and nationhood.
We as a people must strive to make our democracy what it ought to be. The failure or infidelity of our democratic journey so far is being clearly manifested by the lack of an established and stable institutions to hold leadership accountable, to enforce social justice and to deepened constitutionality in the nation, hence the increased centrifugal tendencies of the many separatists groups that had evolved in the nations space of governance and also the hue and cry for restructuring, power devolution by its marginalized and aggrieved stakeholders.
Monetized political system in Nigeria is a great anathema to deepening of the nations democratic ethics. Money politics in the nations electoral cum democratic process has done more harm and continue to pose security threats in the nation. It is a process whereby politicians contending for elective position deploy money to sway or undermine the genuine wish and patriotic convictions of electorates to vote for them or pawn to their interest and agenda.
In the post colonial Nigeria, of past relative to the present era, political actors of the era played selfless and patriotic politics with sole aim geared towards an altruistic national development. Politics of such an era was predicated on service and value....it was almost an abomination to try to influence voters with money, sadly, today, the opposite is the situation. The Nigerian political process is business-intensive and merchantilistic cash and carries kind of. It comes in the form of money for campaign, settlements' and outrageous nominations form fees, which usually run into millions of naira, and this has etched a deep gully of guilt in the psyche of many Nigerians.
Many big time drug barons, smugglers, fraudsters, criminals, and very few honest persons who have large sum of money to throw around to manipulate election and buy the conscience of the people, continue to enjoy an undue head start and strategic advantage of their accessibility to slush funds and stolen money. They are therefore willing to be a major sponsor, donor who bankrolled the installations of presidents, governors, senators, reps-to the detriment of the sense of equality desired incredible democratic settings. It is therefore no wonder why the same sets of people are poised to be the first and major beneficiary of government patronage in terms of contracts and appointments..
We must continue to advocate and mobilize to resist and work together to mitigate or eliminate the impacts of money in the nation's political system, particularly having realized its negative tendency towards concerted attempts at deepening the nation’s democracy.
Monetizing the political process and system in the nation creates youths unemployment, infrastructural underdevelopment, insecurity, culture of impunity, create class stratification by widening the gaps between the poor and the rich, scare patriotic people from coming into politics, create more opportunistic political class, led to the mismanagement of tax payers fund, buying of delegates to political party convention-all these negates the true ethics and essence of democratic governance as well as affecting public policies and spending priorities of government.
The long military rule in the nation, coupled with persistent brazen rigging of election under successive democratic governance in Nigeria had wrongly psyched Nigerians to the state of resignation of powerless. This ought not to be so.
It is not good for politicians to share money or rice, stockfish, salt, sugar, cloth, wheel barrow to potential voters with the hope of compromising their choices. To do so is to demonstrate a lack of faith in their ability to freely campaign and win elections without financial inducement as well as faith in the credibility of a freely conducted free and fair election.
The citizen has critical roles to play in stemming the tide of money politics in Nigeria and in sustaining our democracy.
Sovereignty resides in and flows from the people of a country, Nigeria cannot be an exception, government must truly belong to the people and be used for the benefits of the people. There is no democracy without the engagement of the citizen-to ensue it delivers.
The people must demonstrate this further by holding their leader accountable and responsible of stewardship by truly establishing and living to the fact that they have vote sovereignty and constitutional rights in that aspects.
When people allow unscrupulous politicians to buy their conscience and manipulate the whole electoral process with ill-gotten wealth, political equality is being put at risk. Vote sovereignty is being threatened and power of individual choice is being criminally suspended.
Nigerian citizen must stop collecting money from politicians who wants to buy their vote and fundamental rights, which are priceless and invaluable. to sell your vote is to sell your future and constitutional rights. To sell your votes is to bargain the future of unborn generation on the altar of greed, ignorance, carelessness, poverty and underdevelopment.
The greatest threats to the existence and continual survival of our democracy stems from its political class, particularly the legislators, who appropriated a large chunk of the nations revenue, without any sense of remorse of the depravity of their demand/entitlement as well as some sections of the nation's security elites (in police),who have not demonstrated enough resilience against the pervasive influence of money manipulation of the electoral process and compromising some security agencies.
We urge Nigerians to continue to strive so as to sustainable divorce the marriage of money and politics or completely shrink its influences.
In the spirit of anticorruption initiative and campaigns, the citizens must be up and doing, standing up to be counted amongst those who will resist continuous manipulations of the electoral process by politicians.
To courageously reject money gift or donations from politicians intending to sway your votes to his advantage is the key message of demonstration of your resilience.
We call on government to be the major source of funding for all political parties in the country as well as work with all citizen and all arms of government to reform all defective electoral laws and to enforce all relevant laws hitherto neglected. It must ensure it levels the political playing field to ensure that it is an all comer affairs; this will lead to the emergence of the best and preferred candidate.
We call on government to put a premium on educating the electorates and creating awareness and consciousness that will not tolerate political compromise and take gifts from politicians in whatever form-this will go a long way in changing the vote-behavior or psyche of the people.
We call on government to fully enforce the provisions of the electoral Acts so as to drastically cut down the cost of electioneering campaign thereby promoting low entry points to political contest in the nation. This will go a long way to positively impacting on the ongoing anticorruption war in the nation.
We realize that as long as there are weak legislations and low political will to address these scourges, the deeper the challenges arising from the engagement of money in politics will continue to undermine national development. We there call for further global partnership and declaration of a state of emergency regarding issues relating to negative influence of money in the nation's political system.
COMRADE BATURE JOHNSON