Anybody who is expecting a credible election in 2019 under this president must be wasting his time. Beyond the rhetoric of one man one vote, a mere sloganeering, the 2019 will draw bad blood and desperation. With all the loudest noises made about the last Ekiti gubernatorial election where cash for votes became the operative diction, President Muhammadu Buhari did not find it worthy to raise a voice against it. In his congratulatory message to the APC candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the president totally feigned ignorance of the heist that has now become the simple denominator of our election process. He neither mentioned anything about the reckless use of money nor did he sound any note of caution or warning on political players to shun the unhealthy practice of monetising election and the voting process.
Any serious-minded government should worry about monetary display during voting and election, more so when such a government wears the toga of anti-corruption on its mannequin of governance. Such practice will gradually erode the confidence of the process and impugn on the very credentials of democratic conduct through which credible persons could be elected in a credible process of voting and election. Once the president maintains a conspiratorial silence as if though nothing has happened, it emboldens the undertakers to believe that they enjoy presidential endorsement for their anti-democratic tendencies. And once these actors have become masters of the game, the processes do not matter to them but the outcome. All they desire is to see their candidates emerge through such reckless processes while they admonished their opponents to go to court.
With the reality that is dawn on us, we certainly do not have future in terms of credible election, certainly not under this pretentious government that is pursuing rats and allowing the kingpins of corruption occupy its front roll with unequivocal gusto and conquistadorial confidence. In fact, they make the loudest of noises. Some of them are richer than some states while others use their support for the president as insurance to sustain their grip on the power rostrum without being touched by the EFCC. What else for an anti-corruption agency whose chairman wears the emblem of the president as a mark of solidarity, loyalty and support. With such reality, the President and his fans can never go wrong even if they decide to loot the treasury empty. We hear the loudest of noises from spin doctors of this government saying it has been able to save so much within three years even when extreme poverty has become our lot. They will tell you about foreign reserves going up even when our debts profile has hit the roof top. They will shout anti-corruption as a convenient subject-matter to sustain public discourse, but they go about scouting for defectors especially persons that are standing trial with the EFCC. Their latest catch is one wrong-footed serial defector and former Governor of Kano State who fell from being a presidential aspirant to a senatorial aspirant. Ibrahim Shekarau must be agonising in his cocoon over his faulty step, but ambition makes men blind to their real intention.
Back to the issue of vote buying, the coming Osun gubernatorial election has already begun to show the act. The sum of N16 billion was reportedly paid to the state through the backdoor until news filtered to town when the Accountant General decidedly took a bow. Osun State has become a metaphor for Nigeria’s rotten system without corresponding development. Payment of salary has become strange to the people as they sit on top of 34 months of unpaid allowances and salaries, in a country where poverty has already become our permanent landlord. In order to stimulate voters’ participation in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, the Vice President took himself on a salesman exercise with Federal Government’s “Tradermoni” initiative.
He spoke all the eloquent diction typical of a brilliant professor, but the message was drowned in the cacophony of voices that rented the air from the crowd of poverty-stricken Nigerians who had gathered to receive their manna from heaven. The huge numbers of poor people that thronged out in Osogbo should worry Prof. Osibanjo and the government he represents. All these stipends called in the name of tradermoni, conditional cash transfer and school feeding programmes, amount to mere tokenism. They do not address the core issue of governance. Businessmen like Dangote, Elumelu and Jim Ovia should be the ones to engage in such initiatives and not government that is encumbered with so many challenges ranging from insecurity, poor health delivery system, infrastructural deficit and poor housing facilities. If you want to stretch the argument further, the states could be so empowered to carry out this initiative. What is the business of a Federal Government in distributing stipends to stimulate enterprise amongst the lowly placed in the society, a mere N10,000 or $27 in an economy that is inflation-driven?
The mere idea of visiting Osun State because gubernatorial election is by the corner explains away the dubiety of the initiative. Out of 36 states, only five states have been captured. Whereas two states have been so captured in South-West alone, Lagos and Osun, there are other geopolitical zones that have not been privileged to collect this “akara” money from a government that goes about chasing shadows instead of addressing the core challenges facing Nigerians and Nigeria. People are being killed everyday. Poor health facilities abound everywhere. Decayed infrastructure have become the visible sights of most primary, secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria, yet you take food to the students under such deplorable and unhealthy academic environment in the name of school feeding programme. What a country! Under this government, Obafemi Awolowo University Law programme was de-accredited by the National University Commission. That’s almost like a sacrilege.
When votes become the outcome of how much anyone can pay, then the whole essence of representative democracy becomes defeated. That is the beginning of corruption in government and government of corruption. After the disheartening reality of the Ekiti theatre of shame, I haven’t heard of prosecution even when 30,000 Policemen were temporarily relocated to man the state. Persons were captured on video tapes exchanging money for votes, but that’s where it all ended. Once the highest bidder emerged vide announcement by the electoral body, all the elegant vocabularies would escape from their mouth to express the “beauty” of the victory.
They will speak all the grammar in this world and unleash a bravado of lexical construct to describe their victory: “oh, this is a victory for democracy, a victory for Ekiti people”, all that malapropism kind of. How can an election that was a product of cash-for-votes be a victory for democracy? How can? At best, it should be called the evil of democracy, a duplicitous reality that clearly undermines all known democratic etiquettes and principles. A daylight robbery deliberately executed to undermine the collective will of the people and deny them their right of free choice as democracy prescribes. An exploitation of the poverty, starvation and deprivation foisted on them by an under-performing government that has got to its wits end, and lacking creativity and innovation to confront the challenges of governance.
For 2019, it will be a repeat of this inhuman and very bizarre cash-for-votes practice. And when it is over, you will hear the beneficiaries speak those political jargons as though it were a victory for democracy. They will be thanking Nigerians who may have rejected them in their hearts, but who were bought over by pittance. Part of the corruption in the democratic process is the increment in the salary and allowances of corps members. Civil servants asked for salary increase, they were denied them, but it was suspicious to graciously grant that of the corps members. Who does not know the purpose this is meant to achieve? If Nigerians truly want a change of government through the ballot box, they must speak with one voice to identify the common target. This government has failed. This government has shown a leadership that is clueless, uninspiring and utterly weak. The only way to checkmate their desperation is to rise to the occasion of ensuring one man, one vote truly prevails.
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