Nigerians may ceaselessly complain about the rising cost of goods and services, inflation, austerity and crunch times in general terms, but with the 2023 general elections rapidly approaching, funds are suddenly and speedily turning up as war chests are built to belie the national mantra and banter among many Nigerians that ‘there is no money.”
With the politics of 2023 already heating up the polity, the pretenders and contenders to various offices are already mobilizing their forces to launch a full-scale assault and deliver the offices they desire.
Nigeria`s two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party may be keeping their cards close to their chests about who they would put forward during the elections. However, what is no secret is that only moneybags will stand any chance as money is again poised to play a crucial role in the elections.
Every election usually takes a lot of planning and strategizing. Electoral victories usually gulp a lot of money. The role of money during elections in Nigeria is a largely inimical one given the prevalence of the `highest bidder mentality’ which usually shapes the outcomes of elections during primaries and at the polls proper, such that candidates who cannot come up with huge amounts usually see their aspirations falter.
While many of those who contest and win usually boast deep pockets or access to deep pockets, whether they admit it or not, many of those who contribute money during elections usually do so with an eye on returns – returns on their investments. Serving public officers have been known to callously dip their hands into public funds to buy public offices for themselves or their stooges.
Now, with 2023 breathing down our necks, many politicians have been heard to say that as a result of their goodwill, supporters have bought forms for them to contest elections into different offices, at no personal cost. The flourish with which many of them announce this is usually fashioned to kill two birds with a sole stone. The first is to show that they are into the contests for a penny and for a pound, and the second is to show that they command popular support.
In spite of the incredible predilection the average Nigerian politician has for hyperbole, some of the stories of support groups buying forms running into millions of naira are credible. In fact, two support groups of a certain politician from Niger State almost came to blows as they squabbled over which of the groups would buy the forms for him.
Politics is well a game of numbers and these support groups may have no qualms about buying the forms which usually run into millions of naira given that ones the one they support wins, they will have returns. Yet, in a country haunted by bad governance, the buyers of these forms must beware the kind of people they sponsor into public office.
The Nigerian experience has been that once a politician gets into office, removing him by the exercise of any of the constitutional tools of recall or impeachment is extremely difficult. Because of this, no matter how poor his performance may be, he sits tight especially as long as sycophants regale him with tall tales. Those who wish to see his back usually have to wait for the next elections. And even then, he may do everything in his power to continue in office.
The power of the electorate usually begins from the levels of consultations and reaches its crescendo at the ballot box. Beyond that, there is little an infant democracy can do once the diabolical deafness that afflicts many a Nigerian public officer sets in.
If Nigeria is the way it is today, it is because we have in government many people who have absolutely no business being there. It is why Nigerians must look carefully, see clearly and painstakingly sift the best from the shoal of piranhas putting out themselves for 2023. It is only the best and the best alone that can do. We cannot afford to get it wrong.
The most important component that goes into the making of great leaders is compassion for those they lead. Many Nigerian leaders genuinely lack this quality and so when they get into office, they are able to shut out anything else. Being successful in one`s field does not necessarily make one a great leader. Nigerians must choose carefully.
When someone who got into office through election fails in office, two facts immediately become clear. The first is that the person in question failed as a leader, and the second is that those who elected him failed to choose wisely.