Season Of Delegates’ Emergency Prosperity
The past few weeks have exposed another weakness or madness in our political lifestyle. It is politicians and the culture of vote buying during primary elections of political parties. With the Independent National Electoral Commission’s decision to hold primary elections of political parties as early as possible, which is more than 180 days before the general election, as prescribed under the new Electoral Act, 2022, we have seen political hawks and a few genuine politicians traversing the length and breadth of various political constituencies campaigning, consulting, cajoling and calculating with all manner of wild promises. While the Electoral Act, 2022, recognizes three modes of conducting primary elections towards choosing candidates of political parties, namely, direct, indirect and consensus modes of primary election, it is certain that most political parties can only go to indirect primaries in which delegates are meant to vote.
The agitation in the polity accompanying this is whether it is only elected delegates that can vote under Section 84 of the Electoral Act or a class of delegates otherwise known as statutory delegates are also allowed to vote. The National Assembly, for the first time, took a good decision of stipulating that voting shall be by elected delegates who are actually elected for the purpose of nominating candidates and the huge number of statutory delegates shall not be allowed to vote. Unfortunately, while realizing that, in the class of statutory delegates are the councillors, local government chairmen, governors, deputy governors, members of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly, President, etc., and that the implication is that they themselves have been out of the manipulating equation, they, in a hurry, sought to amend the Electoral Act to permit the statutory delegates to be back into reckoning. This calculation has generated a lot of furore in the political atmosphere with the press asking what is the rationale behind this, as there is going to be a huge swell in the population of those allowed to vote during party primaries.
This amendment, as contained in the newly proposed Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, is yet to receive presidential assent while the nation waits with bated breath. In addition to this is the agitation surrounding the elimination of another class of statutory delegates who are political appointees who, by Section 84(12), are not allowed to vote or be voted for during party primary elections. This is a subject of litigation as we speak and the Supreme Court is being awaited as to the final determination of this volatile issue as many political jobbers and jabbers are somersaulting in desperate calculations of horrendous magnitude.
Whereas the substantial reduction in the number of delegates, when reduced to only elected delegates, makes the system of party primaries to be more manageable, it is also the case that financial implications are supposed to be less cumbersome for aspirants who are supposed to be relieved of the past monetary deficit they were subjected to at the end of primary elections. The unfortunate development is that the reduction in the number of delegates has made the war chest of politicians to be more swollen in ready competition for determining what is available to them to be the highest bidder. Of recent, in Osun State, we heard of a candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party boasting that he had brought lots of money in the almighty euros, dollars and pound sterling and not the unfortunate naira. We have witnessed how politicians have been doling out money in millions of naira using the American dollar as the medium of transaction in a market putting the local currency to shame. After they destroyed the naira, they have chosen a foreign currency to bankroll their political lunacies. It is certain that naira is in for a long nosedive and the possibility of recovery for the traumatized and violated currency is looking nil.
The chances of survival for naira are almost becoming zero as the mad rush for the dollar is horrendous. The whole black market is mopped clean on a daily basis and now naira is weaker than the shameless West African CFA. Now back to the subject of our conversation, politicians are busy purchasing votes from the delegates and the highest bidder carries the day. PDP in a State primary election decreed that there is a limit to what an aspirant can spend and it is now mandatory that an aspirant should not give more than a specific sum to each delegate ranging from N80,000 to N50,000 according to the political office being contested. The implication is that an average delegate can collect such sum from each aspirant and the more the aspirants, the bigger the size of the delegates’ pockets at the end of the exercise. This party is not even pretending to be sane. Its own case seems to be more shamelessly honest. The one that is perturbing in which its aspirants pretend to be holy but inherently deep in vote purchasing is the All Progressives’ Congress.
There is no ceiling to what an aspirant can spend and the market is open to laissez faire. The highest bidder carries the day. There is free market. This is the season of delegates’ emergency prosperity. With this development, the market is bubbling with illicit transactions and it is certain that whoever emerges through this political anomie is not likely to have the interest of the people at heart. No one purchases an office in order to serve. It is definitely an office aspired to for personal prosperity. And this is where I have a problem with our delegates. I am sure that politicians who engage in vote buying are irredeemable. What about the delegates whose today, tomorrow and forever are being negotiated into permanent slavery and wanton despoilation? They have forgotten that their future and the future of their children and generations yet unborn are what they are trading away.
I understand that some delegates somewhere even agreed that once a particular aspirant gives them 20,000 dollars, he should not do anything for them when he gets to office. Is this a product of ignorance or an evil effect of poverty? They do not care that this same politician will get into that office and his primary goal will be to recoup the amount he spent in purchasing the ticket. We must realize that our political parties have gone to the dogs as the cost of purchasing nomination forms and expression of interest forms are highly prohibitive as presidential aspirants doled out 100 million naira each while governorship aspirants bought forms for N50 million in APC. PDP is cheaper not because they are more reasonable. It is only because they are not the one occupying the national leadership now and they want to pretend to have learnt one or two lessons from their falling out of grace in 2015. One wonders what sane and civilized society allows this to happen.
Our delegates do not care and do not reflect on what has become of their lives since they have been partaking in this unfortunate kind of transactions. The implication of it all is that aspirants with genuine intention to serve and good knowledge of governance can never emerge where our delegates are hawks themselves. It means that the possibility of achieving an electoral turnaround in our political fortune is far from being possible. Those that are buying votes are not as terrible as those who are selling to them. Party primaries have become cash-and-carry transactions and the soul of an average Nigerian is being traded away in an illicit market. Democracy has become an anathema as the type determined by money can never be called democracy. These politicians then go into offices and steal all the money meant for providing electricity, good healthcare, infrastructure and mass employment. The implication is that our hospitals will forever remain substandard and our youths will forever remain unemployed.
The army of miscreants will continue to pullulate and insecurity of lives and property shall remain our permanent fate. Our economy shall remain in perpetual comatose if not completely dead.
The masses shall be the ones to suffer while the political class continues its shenanigans. It is at this point that I have a word for the delegates. Kindly think of your own future and the future of your children. Think of the country and stop trading your votes to elect miscreants whose only understanding of governance is looting the economy into waste and reducing our existence to a national embarrassment.
I am not saying that you should not collect the money where a political lunatic offers you money to sell your conscience. What I am saying is that you do not conclude that your conscience is useless and can be exchanged for a kind of money that can never bail you out of poverty. You can collect the money and refuse to vote for him. Indirect primary election is by secret ballot.
You can still vote your conscience. It is by rejecting such a money-miss-road politician that you can check this lunacy that has rendered the country into political, economic and social destruction. Be prepared to ask questions.
Ask them how they intend to revive the economy. Ask them how they intend to fulfil all the wild promises they make to you while trying to lure you into political rape and robbery. Ask them what is their agenda for the future of your constituency and how they intend to achieve it. Those of them who are empty in the heads will definitely betray themselves at this point. Do not allow the money they flaunt carelessly reduce you to sub-human level that they want to pitch you into. Do not allow them to determine your thinking pattern by filthy lucre. Remember that in not less than over ninety percent of the instances of this nature, it is your money, stolen from the public treasury that is being recycled to you in pieces. Wake up from your slumber and allow your brain to work for you. You can still prove to them that you are not depraved animals whose consciousness is determined by their stomachs to the detriment of the future.
Choose among them the one that has programmes for our today and our future. Choose that one that is ready to better our lots and knows what he wants to do with power. Attaining power for mere office occupation is like putting a monkey in the driver’s seat and expect him to drive you to safety. It either he sits there fiddling with the steering and regaling itself with the theatrics of driving or presses the accelerator without knowing how to control the car and plunges everyone into untimely death or loss of limbs. This is the time to think and act wisely. Do not allow the dangling of food before you make you salivate beyond reasoning. A word is enough for the wise. Finally, remember my admonition in the letter to the politicians (See my column in the Daily Sun of 6th January 2022; “Letter to Nigerian Politicians https://www.sunnewsonline.com/letter-to-nigerian-politicians-1 “)