Cross-Carpeting: Another Attempt To Gain Votes?

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

Governance in Nigeria has been dysfunctional for decades. In my wanderings through life, I have found that most people are troubled by the current state of politics in Nigeria, but are unable to clearly define the problem, the root cause, or the solution. They feel helpless, and doubt that if they could do anything to change the current system. They simply accept the present circumstances as ‘the price we must pay for democracy.’ That is the reason people are no longer interested in political speeches and debates, despite the fact that the candidates are usually highly animated and talk about issues that concern everyone. Why is this? No matter how much a candidate practices a speech, it will always sound like sales “sweet-mouthing”, because that is exactly what it is: another attempt to gain votes.

The Nigerian peoples’ mandate is traded for moneybags within this time of power change-over. The outcome has been so pity and dismay. It has created an avenue for the people in power to stay-tight and die-put. This summed it all “a comfort zone for just political office-holders”! Joining politics here in Nigeria has an unstable principle unless one prefers being a stooge to the politics of godfathers. This attitude is giving room for basic defect in the Nigerian political system. We have seen this before… it is not a déjà vu!
Decamping from to and fro PDP is not the problem but the intention behind it. Is it a genuine one? Is these politicians such that they want to serve the people? Or just the same old story to earn the people’s trust and vote? We’ve heard enough. Not good for our democracy. Politicians (mostly those in power corridor) inside Nigeria breach electoral laws. They are talking about internal democracy when they join a party the same day and pick a form for nomination the same day. This is the problem Gov. Theodore Orji is suffering having cross-carpeted into PDP. This is a self- motivated move that need to be scrutinized. I wish all our leaders can take clue from what happen to Gov. Orji, rather than looking for a fair ground; they should think on how to serve this country and people on the highest esteem.

Presently, we have blind spots that prevent us from clearly perceiving the defects of the current system. The blind spots heavily influence our laws, policies, customs, traditions, and belief systems. They cause enormous amounts of human suffering, as well as citizens suffering and economic damage. This material is part of an international conversation on social dysfunction. In fact, nigeria4betterrule forum exists to help improve our base of knowledge, our conclusions, and our recommendations.

Fortunately, the situation is not without a remedy. For Nigerians; the traditional, primitive, and less mindful way of approaching the problem has been simply to blame people for causing these problems. We have tried this method, and it has proven highly ineffective. Only when people realize the gravity of the present situation will they recognize the existence of a cost-effective solution, and support the necessity of fundamental change. Since Democracy has vest power on the people, one may wonder if such power truly belongs to the general population. Or does it belong to an elite group of individuals, namely, Political heads of government, leaders of political parties. The people in power and top-level politicians are far and away the dominant power figures in Nigeria. It is this arrangement that most severely undermines democracy in Nigeria.

But in no way does it constitute a danger to the stability of Nigeria as a nation, especially because in most cases the political office-holders maintain close contact with their godfathers (the person who laundered them into power). Although there are sizeable illegal encroachment to power and elsewhere, there are no massive manipulators flows inside the power corridor. High populated party- members do not necessarily lead to automatic ticket .Justified if the economy is made strong enough to feed the people under his watch.

Progressive deterioration of public services has given room to excessive politicization of the bureaucracy and increasing corruption at all levels in most public institutions (including utility services) and Nigeria revenue generation offices. Most people working here make plenty money by sharing excess-money they make by cornering innocent Nigerians into paying undefined taxes. These practices have indeed eroded the confidence of ordinary Nigerian people. Corruption has become so endemic that urgent measures are required to check it. Although the activities of the EFCC have been criticized in certain circles, on the whole its contribution to improve the law and order situation has been very positive. This is true that a lot can be done to improve the level of governance in Nigeria, but it is not fair to state that all its public services are under progressive deterioration.

Criminalize or delegitimize politics in Nigeria occurs when state institutions are regarded as corrupt, illegal or ineffective. From a constitutional point of view, Nigeria is a constitutional democracy. Unfortunately, despite elections and changes of governments, constitutional system of democracy does not seem to function properly; on the premise that the party politics and the politicians are desperate to rule; hence, not prepared to accept the rules of the game. They merely use the democratic system to come to power and later become defiant to laws, just because the immunity clause shields them. See lack of internal democracy in the parties and the opposition’s insistence on boycotting electoral process, calling hurtles and street demonstrations allows the leader of the party in power to exercise near-dictatorial powers.

However, this does not make the government less legitimate because unlike some important Western governments, it did not come to power through the back door but through free and fair elections and with the direct mandate of the majority. Allow me to add that despite widespread corruption in state institutions, the government is neither illegal nor ineffective. This incident testifies to our politicians’ excessive financial dependence on well-endowed donors. More importantly, it demonstrates how these donors have played a significant role in shaping public policy. By paying substantial amounts of money to politicians, corporations and rich individuals have been able to gain direct access to political representatives and lobby effectively for their causes. Concomitantly, low-income and poor people who do not offer financial contributions do not have the opportunity to voice their opinions on behalf of their issues.

Despite all the difficulties like the politically motivated hurtles, too many trade unions who do not always fight for the interests of the workers and corrupt government officials, the economy could be growing at an average rate of 5 per cent per year. Here, one must pay tribute to the hard-working and resilient people of Nigeria, who are its best asset. Birth control measures have been quite effective and current fertility rate is acceptable. Over 90 per cent of the Nigerians have a strong secular undertone, speak the same mind-language and had experience the same political quagmire in the last decade. There are no major racial, ethnic, linguistic or tribal divisions to confront one Nigerian against the other. These factors exercise a strong unifying influence on the entire population. Not many countries of the world can boast of these characteristics.

So what does it really take for someone to be elected? He – or she – must have the will and stamina to campaign for endless hours. He must convince the political party leaders that he will be loyal to the party and its financial supporters. Additionally, his supporters must believe that he has the charisma that will be necessary for him to win. A person of this personality type is rare. Furthermore, these characteristics

take precedence over the more important qualities of judgment, character, vision, and problem solving ability. Politicians in Nigeria come from diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic and educational background. There are no major ideological differences among them either. True, they have different political affiliations. In democracy, it is natural to have more than one political party. I am convinced that younger members of Nigerian elites are capable of opening dialogues among themselves and eventually reach agreements on important national issues, provided they are given adequate opportunities.

It is time for Nigeria to wake up. It is time for the underprivileged all over Nigeria to walk to streets to stop what is tantamount to creating political disorder and misrule. The center wants incumbency votes. They are allowing massive incumbency infiltration into the periphery from Nigeria – thousands every day. The state soon will have more flouting politicians from the ruling circle than local population. The Governments at State level and the Center is doing nothing to stop the politics of public infiltration.

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1 comment

Abdulkareem Adesina February 12, 2011 - 10:58 am

Imagine how an ex-convict woke up,one morning and lobby other law-abiding citizens with such ill-gotten monies,just to be elected and remain a flag-bearer of a dignified political party. what message those action that send to the international community?


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