Kogi state, money politics and dangers ahead, by Abdullahi Yunusa ProfWills
NEWS DIGEST – As we approach the 2019 elections, one appalling scenario we should watch and make efforts to nip in the bud is plan by desperate politicians to monetise the entire political process thereby reducing Nigeria’s democracy to a cash and carry constitutional democracy.
What is presently lacking in our body polity as a nation is the dearth of responsive, responsible, competent and capable hands to translate the litany of brilliant policies, wishes and aspirations to something that will benefit the masses.
Like I posited in my previous submission, of more concern to me is the need to rework or tinker with the current leadership recruitment template which has made it easy for ill-prepared characters to ride roughshod to power. The current template makes it pretty easy for mercantile politicians to either perpetuate themselves in power or anoint their protégés to remain in office. In more ways than one, the consequences of allowing unprepared and incompetent but wealthy characters to emerge as elected representatives of the people are quite dire.
Governance is too serious a business to be left in the hands of people with little or no proper understanding of what pristine leadership entails. How well a society is governed or administered depends largely on the quality of mind and intellect of her leaders. The more prepared, capable and competent a leader is, the greater a society’s chances of realizing her goals and objectives. Nothing limits or frustrates a society’s quest for greatness like entrusting her hopes and expectations in individuals who lack the will and capacity to deliver on their promises.
Aside reworking or tinkering with the existing leadership recruitment process to make way for the best and brightest among us to emerge as leaders, more worrisome is the gradual monetisation of the entire political process. It is indeed an aberration to hear people posit that without a huge financial warchest one cannot aspire for public office in Nigeria. I recently had a telephone conversation with a National Assembly aspirant in Kogi state who made shocking revelations about the crazy conditions set for him by some party chieftains to enable him get the political party’s ticket in the 2019 Kogi East Senatorial election.
I listened to him with my jaw almost dropping on the floor. The demands were quite crazy and utterly outrageous. He was asked to procure cars, buses and motorbikes to be distributed to party leaders and agents across all the LGAs in the whole of Kogi East! These demands are outside what he was told to ‘package’ as ‘proper’ campaign funds.
This is what party politics has become in our present day Nigeria. It is a question of bribing your way through to any office of your choice, regardless of your background and antecedents.
With an arrangement as this, men and women of questionable character with money to spend can become anything.
Ideally, virtues of excellence, honesty, discipline, accountability, selflessness, competence and capability should be the criteria for electing or appointing leaders. An aspiring leader should be able to clearly outline his vision and mission. He should be able to suggest ways through which existential problems confronting the people can be ameliorated. Leadership is about identifying problems and proffering solutions. It is not rocket science.
As for us in Kogi East Senatorial zone, given the ugly experience of years of unimpressive representation in the Senate since our return to civil rule, the choice of who represents us as a zone in 2019 should be of serious concern to us. This intervention should, more or less, be seen as a wake-up call. We deserve nothing less than a people-based, quality and visionary representation in the Red Chamber come 2019. The power to decide who represents us rests completely with the masses and not with a masked godfather.
Let us encourage the best among us to get involved in political representation, especially at the national level where what constituents get is largely determined by the quality, brilliance, exposure and lobbying skills of their representatives. This is what has eluded us in the last 16 years.
For now, a number of our illustrious sons have indicated interest in the Kogi East Senatorial election. They include, Chief Amade Edime, Engineer John Ibrahim, Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji, Alhaji Jibrin Isah Echocho and Dr. Idris Omede. The list isn’t exhaustive. My point is, none of these aspirants should be discriminated against or made to chicken out of the race. Let’s give room for a free, fair and healthy political contest.
From the foregoing narration, one unambiguous fact is that we have the brightest of minds and brains to represent us at whatever level. The problems are over-monetization of the political process and politics of imposition by greedy and self-seeking party chieftains.
Dear party chieftains across all political parties in Kogi East, kindly refrain from making unnecessary and unrealistic financial request from aspirants. This singular act scares men and women of goodwill away from politics. While money is crucial in politics, it shouldn’t take the place of competence and integrity. Ideas, vision and transparency should be the oil for lubricating the wheel of governance and not money. Let the conversation continue.
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