Nigeria’s delegated democracy

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

When birds become scarce, even vultures and owls would become queens. In a season of political parties and their primaries, it is delegates that have become the hottest scones, baked as it were on the stones of Nigeria`s opportunistic and mercenary politics.

The charabanc which comes around once every four years, becoming especially crucial when there is to be a change of guard, brings along with it the hopes and expectations of many party faithful who would be delegates, and who count such seasons as seasons of their political harvests. Whether what they make once every four years sustains them until another four years remains a question without answers.

In Kaduna State Nigeria, an aspirant who has lost at the primaries was hilariously reportedly said to have recovered about 100 million naira of the money he paid delegates using vigilantes and hunters.

After Adam Sambo, son to former Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo, lurched to a loss even after he paid delegates the sum of 2 million naira each with a promise to pay the balance of 1.5 million naira upon success at primary elections for a House of Representatives seat, he asked the delegates to refund his money.

Some of the sums bandied about are truly frightening. But what is more frightening is that they go to show that Nigeria`s season of money politics is well and truly here, and therein lies the problem. It yields to astoundingly simple logic that if those seeking elective offices are made to part with so much money just to get in, when they eventually get in, considerable time and energy will be spent to recoup their investments and even make some nice profit. It explains why public funds in Nigeria have known depredations for so many years now.

Nigerians must stand up to these thieving delegates. The suspicion for a long time has been that during elections, Nigerians sell their birthright for a pot of porridge by accepting pittances in exchange for giving their votes to scoundrels. Thus, when the rabid pillaging inevitably begins, Nigerians cannot forcefully complain as they should, having sold their voices. But it is now clear that the problem actually begins from the primaries of Nigeria`s mercenary political parties and the mercenaries they  peddle as delegates.

Since it has become as clear as day that it is they who first collect money to   force frogs down the throats of Nigerians by the kind of candidates they push through party primaries, Nigerians must ask them to account for their choices.

The cycle is a forbiddingly vicious one. Politicians who have held public office steal public funds or are beholden to those who have stolen same. They then use stolen funds to win the primaries of political parties or support those who eventually win. At the main elections, they proceed to  plunge the funds  into  supporting themselves or their stooges. When they eventually make it into  public office, the dividends of democracy are relegated to the background while  wanton stealing of public funds is elevated to an art.

It again raises the question of whether political parties mean well for Nigeria and especially the intentions of those who stuff them as staff. The talk about internal democracy is as cheap as it gets for there are those who maintain a vice-grip over party structures and are not willing to give up an inch. For these people, it is a question of power over people and as long as they get into public office themselves or sneak their favoured candidates into these offices, they are content even if the country burns.

As things stand, Nigeria is structured in such a way that   many people actually have no say in what is happening. It remains to be seen just what could be done to remedy the ugly situation. A country that has delegated its democracy to debased and debauched delegates can expect things to get worse before they get better.

Kene Obiezu,


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