By Reno Omokri
I was moved by the plight of Nigerians who were affected by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The human suffering involved moved me. Knowing our government, we could not expect a quick resolution of their issue (although I must commend General Buhari for approving $8.5 million for their evacuation).
However, what troubled me the most were the continental wide outrage at the alleged racism that was said to be going on in Ukraine against Black Africans. I could not just watch helplessly.
I personally went to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and The Czech Republic. I am a civilian. I am not in government. Nobody gave me a dime to do it. But I did it. Do you know why? Because it is not enough to use your mouth to complain, if you can’t use your hand to help!
Nigerians are trapped in Ukraine and its neighbouring nations because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Without understanding that in war times, you prioritise your own citizens, you sat in your living room, complaining of racism. I went there myself. In all of these places, the so called racists have been helping Nigerians. The Ukrainians had a policy in place for war time evacuation. Ukrainian women and children first, Ukrainian civilian men next, then foreigners. That is not racism. It is pragmatism.
If I were Nigerian President and Nigeria was fighting a war, I would do the same thing for my citizens. I will not prioritise foreigners over my own countrymen and women.
Complaining will never help Nigerians abroad or in Nigeria. What will help us and change our country for the better is if we take individual action to create the Nigeria we want to see. Talk is cheap. Actions are not!
Not only was I in Eastern Europe, by the grace of God, my team and I were able to raise money for to get stranded Nigerians out of the war zone.
Let me quickly say here that because I know my countrymen, it is important that I establish that nobody donated money to me to go to Eastern Europe. I went there to help. While I was there, I did a video appeal and asked my supporters to donate directly to Pastor Edward in Ukraine. I flew here with my money. I used my money to help. And I returned with my money. If anybody on Earth gave me a penny directly, I authorise them to expose me.
I am just being proactively transparent, because, like I said, I know my people!
Having said that, let me now explain to my fellow Black Africans what our unwarranted cries of racism will do to us. Yes, BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera and MSNBC will carry such stories with glee, not because it is true, but because it is sensational and will drive traffic to their sites, which is what they need to command huge advertisement revenue.
But those stories were false and the Eastern Europeans are now more likely to be unwelcoming to Black Africans after this this crisis has blown over, because at a time when they faced a calamity, we did not show understanding. Rather, we whipped up false sentiments that had the capacity to turn the world against them at a time when they needed all the help they could get.
I ask my Black brothers how many Black Africans have been killed in Ukraine by the Ukrainians since this incident began? How many have had their property looted? How many have been attacked by mobs?
Not one single Black African.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, we have seen repeated waves of xenophobia and Black on Black racism, by South African Blacks against Black Africans from other African nations, whom they christen ‘Makwerekwere’.
In multiple waves of these xenophobic attacks, hundreds of Black Africans have either been killed, maimed, had their properties looted, or frustrated out of South Africa by their own fellow Black Africans, who are now raising a hue and cry against the beleaguered Ukrainians and their neighbours.
Within Nigeria, various Northern groups have given quit notices to people of Southern descent to leave their region, which was immediately reciprocated by some Southern groups. And we are the ones shouting that Ukraine is a racist country.
Meanwhile, back home we are more intolerant of each other than others are.
I give a good example. The largest church in Ukraine is the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations (also known as Embassy of God). It was founded by a Nigerian-Mr. Sunday Adelaja.
So, Ukrainians are so racist that they gathered and worshiped in large numbers at a church with Nigerian roots? What is more precious to a man than his connection to God? Where are human beings most open and sincere? Of course that is in a house of worship.
Now, imagine that the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations wants to help poor people, who would they help first? Members or non members? Mind you, scripture says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith”-Galatians 6:10.
So, even Scripture and common sense dictates that the church should prioritise its own members first before others. If they do that, is that discrimination? Of course not.
Then why would we as Black Africans accuse Ukraine of racism in their weakest hour and time of need, when they need good media the most, simply because they prioritised the evacuation of their own citizens before foreigners? It would have been delinquent of their government to prioritise foreigners over their own citizens.
No serous country would ever doing. But it is us. We must be emotional, rather than rational. We must antagonise rather than empathise. We must react, rather than pro-act. And we wonder why we are where and how we are!
What we have done to Ukraine and Eastern Europe is not yet clear to us. But the war will be over. The dust will settle. It is only a matter of time. And when that time comes, they will remember how we stoked the media against them in their darkest hour.
Sadly, we Black Africans have a victim mentality. We need to change that mindset. We need to acquire a victor’s mindset. Yes, racism does exist. But when we cry wolf even where there is clearly no wolf, time will come when nobody will listen to us, even when the real wolf comes.
Your husband is not irresponsible because he refuses to carry your siblings and your parents welfare on his head. Rather, it is your father and mother who are HIGHLY irresponsible for collecting bride price and still want your husband to collect bills! The ideal situation is for your husband to use his money to care for you and your children. However, if he has extra, then he should invest for the future, not on your parents and siblings. Marry and leave your father’s house. Don’t extend your father’s house to your husband’s house!
Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Vice-Chancellior, LASU: My Vision for LASU Is Unique and Focused
Prof. Ibiyemi Ibilola Olatunji Bello is an eminent scholar of great pedigree, reputed to have won several laurels, breaking records of attaining great heights. For her, it has been a record of first among equals all the way. She is the first professor of Physiology in the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), having been an associate professor at the University of Lagos, College of Medicine between 2005 and October 1 2007. She was the first female acting vice-chancellor of LASU between July 2010 and October 2011. She was also the first female deputy vice-chancellor of the university between December 2008 and December 2010. She was the first substantive head of the Department of Physiology Lagos State College of Medicine between October 2007 and December 2008. In addition, she was the pioneering director of Lagos State University Directorate of Advancement (LASUDA). Prof Olatunji-Bello grew up in Lagos under excellent parenthood. She attended the Anglican Grammar School in Surulere between 1970 and 1974 and later Lagos Anglican Grammar School also in Surulere. She also attended the Methodist Girls High School in Yaba and Lagos State College of Science and Technology Ikosi Campus for her ‘A’ Levels in 1982. After graduating From the University of Ibadan with a B.SC Hons degree in Physiology in 1985, she proceeded to the University of Lagos for her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Apart from her victorious intellectual exploits leading to being awarded an MSC degree, she also deepened her academic and research breakthrough leading to being awarded a PhD at the University of Lagos in 1998. For so many years, she has been so versatile in the issues regarding leadership and management configuration perspectives in LASU, having been the state government’s representative in the university’s Governing Council between 2004 and 2008 and Senate representative in the council. In 2012, she was nominated by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to attend Course 34 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru Plateau State. She was awarded a ‘Member of the National Institute’ (MNI) Certificate. She was awarded a fellowship by the Physiological Society in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2007, which led to a similar fellowship of the Physiological Society of Nigeria. During an interview with THISDAY newspaper on the commemorative edition on Women’s International Day 2022, she bares her mind on many issues, including the takeaway lessons from the race to become LASU vice-chancellor. Excerpt:
In retrospect, how would you describe your growing up years and the impact of your upbringing?
Growing up was interesting. I was brought up to be a very curious person about my environment. I am also a goal-getter; when I’m determined to do something, I will do it. By the grace of God, I rose very fast in life, and in fact, I seem to be in a hurry to achieve everything. Sometimes, I ask myself: ‘where are you hurrying to’? Everything about my life happened so fast. I went to secondary school at age nine going to 10. I left secondary school when I was 15. When I graduated from university, I was barely 21 years. It was as if I needed to be in a hurry to get all those things done. My vision was to be a professor before the age of 40, but I couldn’t make it. I became a professor at the age of 43, which was still ok by all standards. Regarding my childhood, I had very influential parents but God-fearing. And they brought us up well. I became born-again in my secondary school days. I love God and serve God all the time. By the time I entered the university, I didn’t think I had free time. I was focused on myself and my goal of becoming a professor. It wasn’t as if I wanted to try my luck. From day one, I knew I was going to get a PhD. I went to UNILAG for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) after I had graduated from the University of Ibadan. Before I got to UNILAG, a lot had been discussed about me based on recommendations and reports from the people at UI. So everybody was interested in meeting me. However, when I got there, I was just myself. Although we were two serving at UNILAG then, I was the only one retained initially on a part-time Demonstratorship. While at UNILAG, I did my master’s and registered for my PhD. And immediately there was an opening, I was employed on a full-time basis. So my trajectory was quite fast. However, while I was in a hurry during my growing up years and as a young adult, God used this vice-chancellor’s race to stabilise me. From lecturer to HOD to professor to DVC to acting VC, everything happened in quick succession, but becoming a VC took time, and I thank God for it.
Has there been any time during your earlier career that you have been limited by gender? Or, you couldn’t get something because you are a woman?
I never saw myself as a woman. I saw myself as a colleague with my contemporaries. From my days in school to work, everyone was my colleague. We discussed everything together, shared jokes and did things as colleagues. For the guys, I knew their girlfriends, and they knew mine. Their girlfriends know me. It was all like a big family. When they have challenges, they inform me and vice versa. We usually gist during the practical classes, so no limitation. But I realised later that I’m in a male-dominated environment. It dawned on me that I have to publish or perish, and if I have to publish, I have to do as much as twice my male counterparts. As a married woman, I do my school work, take my children to school and pick them up. I make sure dinner is ready for everybody in the evening and get the children ready for school for the following day. In those days, the computer was not as prevalent today. Hence, we kept writing and writing. That was the situation. From the onset, I never saw myself as a woman, but while rising up, it dawned on me that I was in a male donated profession. And I have to prove a point. And I thank God I was able to be a challenge to others.
Being a professor at 43 years is a feat. Many could have fallen off the line along the way. What did you do differently that helped you to succeed over the years. What were your strategies, the philosophy, or your benchmark growing to the top level?
As I said earlier, I worked twice as hard as my colleagues. As a young academic, I had mentors and role models. I would always go to the senior ones and ask, ‘Prof, how did you do these things?’ And at meetings, I was always talking. I believe that as intellectuals, we should debate things. Whether your point is taken or not. You should debate it. In the end, the person that has larger support would have his way. I also saw University meetings and Conferences as a way of expressing myself. Even now, I will always say my mind. I may not win the argument, but it will be on record that I have said my mind. You must not shy away from speaking the truth; it may not pay at a particular time, but in the long run, when you look back, history will justify you. So I had role models who encouraged me. Mention can be made of Prof. Shofola, Deputy Vice-Chancellor University of Lagos. Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos. Former Vice-Chancellor of Ondo State University of Science and Technology. Also President of the National Postgraduate Medical College. Prof. Odugbemi would always ask me, ‘Yemi, bring your CV’, and I will give it to him. Three months later, he will ask again, and I will say, but I gave you three months ago. And because I knew he would ask of me every three months, I would make sure that there was something new added to the CV before he would ask for my CV again. That was the push. Prof. Sofola will tell me, ‘if we push you, you will move’. They were pushing me because they had great belief in me. Some other people would have run away, but I did not.
What are the lessons regarding the contest in your appointment as LASU vice-chancellor?
There are two lessons. One, believe in yourself. The vision I had for the university was the same I submitted during my first contest for the position. People will say go and look at the way they did this or that. It is not done this way. They will ask me to go and read other people’s visions and model mine after theirs. But I realised that what I have is better than what they are saying, and I stuck to it. The only thing I added to the first one I did was the decision to create new faculties. It was the same vision during the first, second and third contests. I would have entered into the Guinness book of records as the only person that vied for the same position five times. The second lesson is never to give up once you believe in yourself. The competitions were stiff, and the oppositions were strong, but I continued, and I never gave up.
I have said it in different churches where I have given my testimonies that I was focused mainly on becoming LASU vice-chancellor. I never applied to any other university. It was not that I was desperate to become vice-chancellor of LASU, but I was called (by God) to be vice-chancellor of LASU, so I never attempted to be vice-chancellor elsewhere. Most of the others that contested with me since 2011 have gone somewhere else, but I am here. I’m maybe the only person who didn’t go elsewhere despite seeing many opportunities.
Tanko Muhammad, Ekweremadu and health of Nigeria by Suyi Ayodele
What happened to the Nigerian judiciary under the now retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, is a symptom of an ailing nation. We must all come to admit that Nigeria is a country that needs moral transplant. Who will be the donor is what we don’t know. That the aeroplane-driving CJN retired after his “brother justices” accused him of misconduct is never news to celebrate. The resignation itself is never a part of the diagnosis of what ails the country. And I sincerely do hope that the General Muhammadu Buhari administration will not because of the belated retirement roll out the drums to celebrate his tough stance on the fight against corruption! The judiciary is expected to be the healthiest of the three arms of government. Its chronic illness under Tanko is a pointer to the general well being of the government in power. The undertakers should not be far away as their services may be required soon.
In Africa’s worldview, a healthy man is a wealthy man. The saying, “health is wealth,” underscores the importance human beings attach to sound health. Without sound health, man becomes useless. This is why sane countries of the world don’t play with their healthcare delivery. But it is not so in Nigeria, a country which prides itself as the “Giant of Africa”. By that sobriquet, one would expect that Nigeria would tower above other African countries in all ramifications of life. If you are wondering why we are this low in all aspects of life as a nation, just take a look at our health care delivery system. If Nigeria’s health is failing, or has failed, the citizenry cannot be healthy. For those who care to know, Nigeria is not just ill, it is terminally ill.
Some two years ago or so, I had the misfortune of rushing an ailing church member to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH. At the close of service that fateful Sunday, a friend and I had planned to go out with our spouses. We drove out of the church premises and saw the ailing woman being aided to the road to get a taxi to the hospital. We picked her up in my friend’s car while I joined him and asked the women to use my own car. By Ehaekpen Road, the woman gave up the ghost in the car. But we continued the journey to the UBTH. At the Accident and Emergency section of the hospital, she was confirmed as BID (Brought In Dead). That was where our ordeal began. The relation in the car contacted other family members and agreed that the remains of the woman be deposited at the hospital’s morgue. To our utter embarrassment, UBTH had no BID form to take the woman’s profile and have her corpse deposited in the morgue. For over two hours, the corpse was left in our car. I had to ask one of the hospital attendants in charge to copy the information of a used BID form at the back of another used form and fill in for the dead woman. I knew then that we had bigger problems than anyone could imagine. If a teaching hospital, as big as the UBTH, had no ordinary BID form, one can imagine the state of the General Hospital at Afrikpo, or Balewa Village or at Itawure!
This is why, at the slightest discomfort of headache, the locust masquerading as our leaders jet out of Nigeria to seek medical help abroad. From personnel to equipment, infrastructure to medications, hospitals in Nigeria are killing fields. In his 2017 article titled: ‘Africa’s presidents keep going abroad for medical treatment rather than fixing healthcare at home,’ published in Qartz Africa, an online publication, Yomi Kazeem has this to say: “The preference for an international doctor’s appointment is steeped in irony as these leaders often make promises about improving local healthcare a central part of their campaigns while seeking office. But by looking beyond the continent for medical solutions, African leaders maintain a vicious cycle which keeps faith in public healthcare low while channeling substantial state resources to hospitals abroad rather than plug local healthcare gaps. In many African countries, this reality is all too apparent. According to the World Health Organisation estimates, with a shortage of 4.2 million health workers, Africa is the region with the world’s second-worst health worker shortage”. Zeroing down on Nigeria, Kazeem quoted WHO as saying that: “In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the shortage will be less severe if the health system could call on the services of the up to 15,000 Nigerian doctors estimated to be working outside the country. But there’s little motivation for doctors practising abroad to return home with crumbling infrastructure, lack of drugs and poor compensation.” If in 2017, we had 15,000 Nigerian medical doctors working outside the shores of the country, your guess is as good as mine on what the figure will be now.
Nothing, in recent time speaks to the parlous state of our healthcare delivery system more than last Thursday’s arrest of Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, by the Metropolitan Police in far away United Kingdom. According to the reports of the arrest, the former deputy senate president was accused of trafficking a child to the UK for organ harvest and slavery. A statement issued by the Met police says “Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting. Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting. They have both been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later today. A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support. As criminal proceedings are now under way we will not be providing further details”. Ever since, the senator’s team has responded to state that the alleged “organ harvest victim” is not a 15-year-old street lad, but a 22-year old adult who volunteered to donate one of his organs for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, who is having challenges with her kidney. My thrust here is not to probe into the veracity or otherwise of the claims that the supposed organ donor, David Nwamini Ukpo, was shipped to the UK legally. I would also not bother to interrogate whether Ukpo is on his own an opportunist, who, according to claims, when he realised that he would be shipped back to Nigeria after his organ failed to match that of Sonia, decided to raise false alarms of abuse and what have you. No, my focus is why, in the first instance, Ekweremadu had to depend on a UK hospital for an organ transplant operation for his darling daughter.
The problem with the Enugu-born senator is the problem with all our political leaders in Nigeria. Like the saying goes: “all are thieves but he who is caught is the barawo”. For crying out loud, Ekweremadu has been in the corridors of power since the time lizards were few. He is a confirmed “omo ijoba” (government child). Two years before the advent of the current political disaster we call democratic governance, he was elected chairman of Aniri Local Government Area of Enugu State on the platform of the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP. He was elected into the Senate in 2003 and was deputy Senate president for 12 years, beginning with the era of David Mark, through to Bukola Saraki. In his 19-year stay in the Senate, like his other political leeches feeding fat on our patrimony without a whim of concern for the common good, Ekweremadu did not see any reason why Nigeria should have well -equipped hospitals where ailments like organ failure of any shade could be treated. Unfortunately, Ekweremadu is not the only culprit in the league of Nigerian leaders engaged in medical tourism. The league, as we all know, is led by General Muhammadu Buhari, who holds the life trophy of spending 104 days at a stretch on a London hospital bed at our expense, with the presidential jet parked at Heathrow Airport, accumulating demurrage! When we add the BTA of his personal aides who accompanied him to the UK, Buhari will go down in history as the man who spent what could have built for the nation a decent hospital for the use of the people on a single medical trip abroad. So, when news of the arrest of Ike and Beatrice Ekweremadu filtered in, what easily came to my mind is the saying that when the head is rotten, the tail will be home for maggots! Cumulatively, an August 5, 2021 report by the Premium Times of Nigeria, puts the number of days General Buhari had spent on medical tourism to the UK at 200. You may wish to ask: did Buhari not talk about the parlous state of the nation’s health institution while seeking our votes in 2014? Did he not assure us that he would not go abroad for medical attention? Kazeem, quoted earlier, answers the posers.
That done, as humans, we may also wish to look at the desperation of the father-figure Ekweremadu presents as he seeks a medical solution to his ailing daughter’s health. There is a deep prayer among my people which says: “ki Oluwa ma fi ina omo jo wa” (May God not allow us to be scorched by the death of our child). This is where I believe that our thoughts should be with Miss Ekweremadu as she battles for survival at this critical moment. It is even more important for us to spare a moment of prayer for Sonia, now that the most important caregivers of her life, the parents, are in detention. The thought that her parents are locked up in cells in the UK because of her is devastating enough for the poor girl. While we have the assurance that, unlike what we have in Nigeria, the UK Government would not allow Sonia to be left unattended to, we cannot overemphasise the importance of the presence of her parents at this crucial time. Again, that the Ekweremadus were picked up on their way to Turkey is an indication of how desperate they were to bring their daughter back to sound health. We may frown at the method employed to achieve that. We may interrogate why the replacement for the failing organ was not sourced within the family circles. In all that, we must have it at the back of our minds that every mother hen uses her back to shield her chicks from the ravenous hawk. We therefore call on the Almighty God, our Healer, to stretch His healing hands on Sonia and make this storm to pass. We pray that she surmounts this mountain before her and becomes useful to Nigerian society and humanity in general. We also pray that after this, every Ekweremadu in leadership in Nigeria will see the need to build up our health institutions and other decayed infrastructure in the country as doing so is also in their own interest. May Sonia live!
Direct or indirect primaries: The uniting factor is moneybag politics by Afe Babalola
THE Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) provides for the system of nomination of candidates by political par ties through primary elections ahead of presidential, state governorship, and legislative houses elections. Section 84(1) of the Electoral Act provides that a political party seeking to nominate candidates for election under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission. Subsection 2 provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.
Direct primaries, as described in subsection 4 of the Act, connotes that the members of the political party will be given equal opportunity to vote for a party member of their choice as the nominated candidate of the party. It involves the participation of all registered members of a party in the selection of the party’s candidates. Indirect primaries, on the other hand, is a system whereby members of the political party democratically elect delegates at the party’s congress and, in turn, the delegates elect the party’s candidates on behalf of the members of the political party. Sections 5-8 of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended) generally stipulates the procedure for the conduct of indirect primaries in Nigeria.
The third category, and perhaps the least commonly adopt ed, is the system of consensus candidacy whereby all aspirants in the political party will voluntarily and expressly withdraw from the primaries and endorse a single candidate; and where there is no such express withdrawal, the political party will mandatorily proceed to conduct direct or indirect primaries. Section 9 of the Act provides as follows: 9 (a) A political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate; (b) Where a political party is unable to secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the purpose of a consensus candidate, it shall revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of candidates for the aforesaid elective positions. (c) A Special Convention or nomination Congress shall be held to ratify the choice of consensus candidates at designated centres at the National, State, Senatorial, Federal and State Constituencies, as the case may be.
Over the years, the choice of whether a party should adopt direct or indirect primaries has been the subject of debate by political pundits, commentators, and aspirants. The system of indirect primaries which most political parties adopt has been criticized for being easier to manipulate by party lead ers, and on their part, the delegates are expected to align with the party leadership. Another inherent defect in the conduct of indirect primaries includes some instances of the dubious manner of appointment of delegates. For instance, where a sitting Governor or President’s political appointees are made the party’s delegates, it is not in doubt that their nominations will ultimately favour their appointor’s political interest. Be sides, it is not uncommon to find dissimilar delegates’ selection at party congresses, conventions and primaries. On the other hand, the criticism of direct primaries is that it is a lot more expensive to operate and requires much more planning and organization. It is also more easily manipulated. For in stance, a strong contender in a political party can sponsor the members of his own political party to purchase membership cards of the opposition party en masse in order for such members to deliberately vote for a weaker candidate in the said opposition party to win the primaries, thereby giving him an edge in the general elections.
Notwithstanding the obvious differences in the conduct of direct and indirect primaries, there however exists no real difference because of the association of Nigerian politics with godfatherism and moneybag politics. Though it is easier to bribe fewer delegates to support a faction of the party as op posed to the reduced propensity to tilt the votes of all members of the political party to one candidate if direct primaries were held, it still does not change the fact that the underlying factor is the ability of a candidate to sway the few delegates, or the larger party members, with money.
In an interview published in the Punch newspaper on 19th June 2022, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party rep resenting the Ilaje/Ese Federal Constituency stated the im pact of money on politics. He reportedly said: “Except some are lying, it is real. Our politics is monetised. The process is monetised. Some will just come and tell you that they never pay money. They paid money. We paid money to delegates. There is no way you can survive that hurricane without effectively and efficiently releasing resources for those people (delegates). Whether you have served them for seven years and you have been their perpetual or perennial friend, it is not going to count. You just have to do the needful at that point. Again, if you don’t do it, they will not vote for you. This is because it is not just one aspirant or candidate that is doing that; it is a system. You will give what the system is asking for. There is a stimulus that the system is pumping and which the electorate will have to react to. It is not the fault of those who are currently in power or those that are seeking to come to power, it is not their fault… If you are the best (among the aspirants), you will pay; if you are the worst, you will still pay. It is just a systemic thing. Those who eventually won, it is still the same. In my area, we had three very strong contenders. We paid equally and people made their choice on who they wanted. The three people (aspirants) paid equal amounts of money. They (delegates) collected money from the three of us and made their choice on who they wanted.”
The bold admission by the honourable member of the House of Representatives excerpted above is the reality of the Nigerian political climate today. The influence of moneybags in Nigerian politics continues to hold sway in dampening the hopes of the nation in achieving true democracy. After all, the whole idea of democracy is the free will of the people in electing their political leaders, and where such “free will” is manipulated through the influence of political juggernauts, the country is further pulled away from the attainment of the best democratic policies. It accounts for the corruption and violence which have characterized many elections in Nigeria. On the day of the election, the politician who owes his nomi nation to his huge investments will naturally seek a win by any possible means. Where his reliance is placed on a political godfather, he can count on his godfather’s ability to deploy enormous wealth in a bid to corrupt electoral officials and the electorates and where these fail, violence will be deployed to bring about the desired result.
Consequently, the politician who wins an election based only upon the backing of his political godfather will feel no ob ligation to the electorate who in any event might have been disenfranchised in the whole scheme of events. He will there fore devote the entirety of his tenure of office to the promotion and satisfaction of himself, his cronies, and his godfather. There is an unhealthy synergy between godfatherism, money bag politics, and poverty. It is the entire citizenry who suffers the effect of political office holder’s obligation to recoup his investments and/or satisfy the whims of his godfather who, more often than not, are the actual persons in power.
AARE AFE BABALOLA, SAN, OFR, CON, LL.D (Lond.)
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Kabiru Masari, the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Nigerian presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress,...
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