To the uninitiated, it is coated in the tar of freewill – of choice, of the constitutional right to freedom of association and all there is from Nigeria`s box of tricks. Yet, when the shutters are pulled backed and nakedness is bared, it is well and seen for what it is: naked extortion, poorly concealed.
The 2023 general elections are still months away, but already a lot of heat which driving the polity towards boiling point is being generated. Put side by side with the extremely delicate fabric of Nigeria`s socio-economic existence, the country would be shown to be sat on the edge of a knife.
In Nigeria, all thanks to delectability of democracy and the granite guarantees ingrained in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended), Nigerians are free to freely associate. One of the clearest expressions of this right to freedom of association is in the formation, identification with, and participation of political parties in the democratic processes of the country. Nigerians are free to form or belong to political parties of their choice and through those parties, to run for political offices.
Indeed, in Nigeria, the courts have repeatedly shown that
the right to freedom of association which necessarily translates to the right to belong to a political party and participate in the democratic processes of the country is one which the courts guard jealously. So jealously does the court guard this constitutional right that Nigeria`s highest courts have repeatedly been at pains to reprise that they are not allowed to interfere with the internal mechanics of any political party unless and until those mechanics are shown to have violated the binding rules of such a political party.
In Nigeria, while the pious preach that money is the root of all evil, the pragmatic postulate that without money, nothing can really be achieved. Meanwhile,realists know that money is an indispensable lubricant without which the wheels of life would grind far too ponderously. It appears to be the predominant thought of Nigeria
s ruling party,the All Progressives Congress, whose actions as it exercises its power regarding the sale of its forms to contestants for political posts have unwittingly brought to the fore the inordinate and inimical role money plays in Nigerias politics.
For example, when the All Progressives Congressed p egged its expression of interest and nomination forms for the post of the president at a staggering hundred million naira albeit considerately given a fifty per cent discount to young people, both its National Women Leader and National Chiarman chided those who criticized the cost of the forms. Unashamedly, both party leaders clarified that the extortionate cost of the forms was made to discourage charlatans.
With the sale of the forms about to close, Nigerians have been stunned by the staggering number of politicians who have lined up to purchase the forms of the ruling party and the sums nonchalantly dumped into the coffers of the All Progressives Congress even when the economics of politics make it clear that at the end of the day only one contestant will win the race to become the party`s flagbearer in the 2023 general elections.
The pressing question then borders on what the game plan is. So-called support groups, lining up behind different politicians like the leeches that they are, have been scrambling to pick up tickets for their patrons. They have also shown a lot of mischief in the way they have dragged some patently unwilling participants into what has quickly become a costly circus.
In these days of seeming lack, when ASUU remains on strike, and everyday Nigerians groan under the difficult choices foisted on them by the hardship Nigeria continues to hatch like an infernal hen, that there is plenty in the corridors of power and in the hands of some of those who by their activities and avoidance are responsible for the many problems plaguing Nigeria today, calls for alarm.
That many of those who should be raking in sleepless nights because they are responsible for the mess Nigeria is in today have enough time and resources for such a costly jamboree should have Nigerians fuming.
It may be carefully concealed as politics, but calling feces by another name cannot stop its stink. How many of these support groups have no option but to purchase these forms for their patrons? How many of them are actually under some form of duress tacit or overt to do what they do? How much choice is being exercised by those parting with these sums, given the peculiar pressures that come with Nigeria`s politics.
Nigeria has been structured in such a way as to make it easy to extort people. This extortion is not
always as brazen as the actions of policemen who force road users to give them money or the court officers of government workers who force litigants and the patrons of government services to part with money before they attend to them.
The extortion is largely systemic and flows from systems put in place by Nigerians to extort Nigerians thereby deepening the gulf of inequality. Those Nigerians who condone these things can tell by themselves just how much they are contributing to the rot eating up the country.