June 12 (THEWILL) – Before the main political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held the conventions that produced their flag bearers for the presidential election of the next year, I was right to write about the great responsibility that party delegates owe this country to put forward men and women of impeccable character and exemplary leadership, who will be responsible for leading the country towards progress.
Under the heading “Delegates, Monetization of Politics and Danger to Nigerian Democracy” on May 29, I highlighted how unfortunate it was that the nobility of the ideal roles of party delegates had not been taken into account, with the sanctity it deserved, by the political class in Nigeria, especially those of the two main political parties. Delegates from both parties brazenly displayed a blind disregard for the exalted roles of their positions, preferring selfish enrichment instead.
As the conventions continued, the recurring theme was the ungodly sums that had been paid to delegates by aspirants seeking party nomination for either election. The higher the position the candidate was vying for, the more money the delegates demanded, with presidential candidates paying up to $20,000 per delegate to buy votes.
Deaf to the pleas of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who warned that the country was heading towards plutocracy, the delegates themselves offered their votes to the highest bidder and auctioned off their national responsibilities in exchange selfish financial gain. .
What has resulted in the reduction of this sacred process of our nascent democratic practice to nothing more than an outsized and illegal financial transaction has been the elevation of figures of dubious character wielding ill-gotten wealth to the point of being a distant event to decide the collective fortunes for at least the next four years.
Although many Nigerians have demonstrated that they possess the leadership qualities, mental acuity, skills and talents required to spearhead Nigeria’s progress and lead it into the 21st century of technological advancements and progressive thinking without the CVs tainted by previous acts of corruption, these delegates ended up taking the entire nation back to a time when the country was just emerging from the debilitating years of military rule.
This retrograde disposition cannot come at a worse time. At a time when South Africa is ranked the world’s 19th largest financial center by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Kenya is considered the world’s “silicon savannah” for quickly establishing itself as a hotspot for some of the most innovative digital technologies on the continent. companies, 200 digitized services and a comprehensive platform of government-to-citizen online services and Rwandan Mara Group has become the first maker of a fully-made-in-Africa smartphone and is using drones to deliver essential supplies to inaccessible areas , what we have seen play out here is that the possibility of even trying to get out of our own way before we can start designing competition on the continent has been thwarted by the very selfish decisions of a subset of Nigerians , who will themselves be victims of the repercussions of the monetary policy they have imposed on the whole country.
The process of selecting the candidates from whom Nigerians will have the opportunity to elect their government at the local, state and federal levels and most importantly, at the presidential level, should involve a critical examination of these candidates, their backgrounds, physical and mental. abilities to handle the grueling tasks demanded of elected officials and how they deal with pressure and failure.
This involves careful reading of candidate manifestos, macroeconomic plans, development policy ideas, socio-economic proposals for each year of their expected time in office juxtaposed against measurable milestones against which progress can be tracked, their proposed team of experienced hands to whom they will delegate some of their responsibilities, their selflessness and their willingness to truly serve in the capacity for which they have been elected as public servants.
Nowhere has it been necessary to verify the enrichment of the foreign currency accounts of the candidates, laden with ill-gotten wealth, nor how much they can bet to obtain the votes they need to become the standard bearers of their parties. Yet the latter prevailed as we have all witnessed. That is why many well-meaning Nigerians, eminently qualified for the high offices for which elections will be held next year, have completely steered clear of the charade of an electoral process. This is why individuals who have the means to orchestrate the kind of progressive systems that will spur growth, engender change, energize development and move the whole forward do not want to be part of the process. This explains why those who have worked wisely for every penny they are worth see no justification in the blind payout to conniving delegates. This is why a candidate such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whose background and suitability for the office of President is not in doubt by any measure to determine suitability, will not even be second to a much more aged, physically handicapped and not as comparatively astute former Governor of Lagos State.
That is why rather than being given the opportunity to choose from the best of the best that Nigeria has to offer for leadership, monetary policy has left voters with the worst of the worst in the country’s two major political parties, the one of who is most likely to win.
All of this goes to show that our system of selecting candidates who will be printed on ballots for voters to choose and place in office is inherently flawed. The noble call to service cannot and should not be at the whim of a select group of individuals, who are as much victims of the militarization of poverty as the average Nigerian and who see their delegate status as the lifelong chance to make a financial windfall and will easily jeopardize the fortune of the whole country for a few shekels of silver.
What is clear from the conventions recently concluded is that we owe it to ourselves, to our country and to posterity to refuse this type of self-serving system and to move towards a more open, balanced, clean, clear , free and fair that replaces selling votes to the highest bidder with a closed unit of revered delegates, some of whom were too illiterate to write down the names of their favorite candidates, with a system that is more inclusive and more focused on ideas, policies, background, experience, character, integrity, physical capacity and mental capacity.
I recommend such an open system that will involve party-wide consultation requiring a candidate wishing to enter politics to meet their constituents and sell their candidacy to them. This forum will involve answering questions, taking suggestions and recommendations, and personally engaging with registered party worshipers.
At the end of the consultation process, these registered members of the participating party will all vote, in a primary organized by the party and in the presence of the electoral body in an oversight role, for the candidate of their choice. The candidate who emerges from this intra-party vote will do so with the assurance of home support and the responsibility of carrying the mandate of the people. This is a healthier, more involved process that will disabuse the system of the rotten stench of ill-gotten wealth, while ensuring that proven candidates with the right qualities and goals, and motivated to serve, emerge from the system. And, we can begin the arduous march towards prosperity and progress as a nation.