Money Politics: Nigeria’s Delicate Delicacy
I have written a few weeks back about the lamentation of the 14th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi II. However, the critical mass of Nigerians still seems to be going about their daily social activities as if nothing frightening is in the offing.
Indeed, something frightening is in the offing! In reality, similar situations that are indeed worse than what Sanusi pointed our attention to are in multiple ways happening all around us. While it may be good enough to pretend as if they are not there, the earlier Nigerians paid attention to them before they snowball into a tornado of unimaginable cataclysms, the better for the health of our country.
In the First Republic, for example, there was the issue of corruption and the influence of money. However, it was not as pervasive as we have it now. And there are reasons for that! First is the phenomenal surge in commitment and political participation.
The percentage of the population that was actively involved in politics at the time was not as alarming as it is today. Secondly, people contributed money – as members and co-owners of the party – to finance party activities.
Nowadays, the reverse is the case! Political parties are formed and people are invited to join. And, the party, through its co-owners, sponsor candidates, finance the day-to-day running of the party and determine what happens in the party. And each ‘party owner’ must be a moneybag. Otherwise, the party will not fly!
From the Second Republic, money politics approached a different, dangerous dimension; and only God knows where Nigeria is now headed.
Today, if you ask anybody who is a member of a political party in Nigeria how much he or she has contributed to the purse of his or her party, the response will certainly shock you. That is why carpet-crossing thrives; and why a commitment to party ideology and manifestoes is superficial at best. This is a very critical challenge but, unfortunately, it has not been addressed because Nigerians are not paying attention!
When we talk about money politics, we are talking about how money influences and affects our political engagements and participation. To be sure, a robust understanding of the basics of the negative effects of money-politics gives meaning and intelligibility to the greed and Modus Operandi of most governments.
When people, who are apathetic to democratic ideals, development and Public Administration, come together as a formidable force, it then becomes problematic for the society. Most political gladiators and public servants are aware of this, but, unrepentantly, always acquiesce.
Thus, impunity comes in; accountability becomes a problem; and transparency is a non-issue! There and then, party hierarchies will remain what they are because people will not be responsible for the party but only to their bellies. Once this happens, it goes back to what Sanusi has already addressed because money politics ensures that people begin to have a feeling or belief that “money answereth all things.”
More than just talking, there is a malaise invented by the military; and that is the demystification of the power of the political party in Nigeria.
For lack of a better word, it was nothing but a muzzling of the social institutions in the country such that the military now appears as a Leviathan. Of course, this ‘might-is-right’ succession mentality succeeded in crippling that aspect of our social institutions; and all eyes could see it.
Sadly, we are yet to recover from it! Not even in this incredibly complicated clime where good is repaid with evil and loyalty is rewarded with abandonment. Anyway, that’s a story for another day!