The Nigerian political system has overtime metamorphosed into a money-bag politics. In pursuit of elective offices, politicians and public office holders who are expected to be men of godly character, competence and with popular vote, assumed office with their conscience weakened and their hands soiled. The interest of the county is swept under the carpet as corrupt practices blossom and public office holders flaunt their ill-gotten wealth brazenly for others to envy.
Politics that entails good governance and effective administration in the actualization of peoples will, formulation and implementation of policies to regulate behaviours of citizens in any given country, and elections carried out through popular vote and transparency of the electoral system, is largely missing. The Nigerian politics has proven overtime to be undecided by the electorate during election. Elective officers are floated into offices through vote buying, rigging, thuggery, dishonesty, forgery, electoral malpractices and other election vices facilitated by money-bags’ politicians and public officers.
It is obvious how monetized Nigerian politics has become. It is one of the greatest problems facing the Nigerian political system as political godfathers dole out heavy cash for their godsons to win elections, thereby crippling the possibility of men with honour, character and integrity to hold public offices.
Recently, political parties in the country in preparation for the 2023 general elections increased the cost of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms far beyond the reach of ordinary and competent Nigerians who wish to contest in the forthcoming general elections. Under the current All Progressives Congress (APC), politics has become increasingly preserved exclusively for the high, mighty and wealthy members of the society and not for the poor.
Elections do not stop at the purchase of forms; aspirants have to contend with other expenses such as party primaries which usually goes to the highest bidders. There were reports that the recently concluded primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was highly ‘dollarized’ with each delegate carting away with not less than $25,000. Also, the presidential primary of the APC was said to be the same. There were reports that one of the aspirants gave out over one million dollars to governors of APC controlled states in order to actualize his ambition of clinching the presidential ticket of the APC.
While it may be the truth that the increase in price of the nomination form is to ensure that political parties are not being funded by public fund as stated by the publicity secretary of APC, the fact remains that the new exorbitant price regime will disqualify many aspirants.
No doubt, money is the bane and an essential tool in politics, but an instance where money is prioritized above other elements is not democracy; it is a move towards plutocracy, where government is in the hands of the richest class of people in the society.
By implication, monetization of politics in the country has negatively affected our polity. The result is that the nation has not enjoyed the main ingredients of democracy which includes: free and fair elections, freedom of association, right to active participation by citizens by not only voting but having the access to contest for the highest offices in the country, protection of human right and respect to rule of law.
Politics in Nigeria is fast becoming a commercial venture where the investors recoup their investments, a game of the winner takes it all, and to satisfy this end, all manner of tactics including bribery and thuggery are employed.
Contrary to what is popularly believed, politics is not a dirty game but the players are the ones who bear the dirt and taint the game. They show no loyalty to the people nor the constitution, but to their sponsors and godfathers. Their selfishness breeds poverty, unemployment and insecurity all across the country.
The way out of these presumptuous attack on our democracy is for Nigerians to critically evaluate these parties’ ideologies before giving them their mandate in 2023. For the country to produce credible leaders, efforts must be put in place to mitigate the use of money in politics. Political parties should adopt direct form of primaries which remains the best option.
The National Assembly should therefore be called to come up with stringent laws to discourage increasing money politics by politicians in the country. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the other hand must rise to the occasion and prosecute anyone flouting political finance regulations to serve as a lesson to others.