Tuesday 27 July 2010

Nigeria: Our politically immature systems

The real issue
It can be easy to read the headline PDP disqualifies aspirants with less than N500m [1] and miss the real import of this development altogether.
I would contend that it clearly shows the unsustainable cost of our fledgling democracy, poor political nomination action procedures and immature political party organisation especially from the ruling party, it is a poor example.
Obviously, any quest for political office does cost money but an aspirant that really carries the approval of a constituency for which representation is sought should by nature attract the necessary resources and support to ensure that the aspiration gains recognition and possible nomination.
Money for office
Having money in bank might well mean one has been successful in other walks of life but in a society where sources of wealth are rarely properly audited to ascertain untainted provenance it would be unfortunate if criminals can gain access to political privilege and office just because they have the cash.
Ploughing ones personal finances into the quest for political office without inexhaustible resources can create the situation where the aspirant who then gains political office can do everything to recoup all the “investments” that have gone into achieving the objective.
A few months ago, an aspirant resorted to drug smuggling [2] to recover the costs of his having once run for office and failed and with the aim of running for office again but he got caught.
Closing doors to betters
It is saddening the more qualified representation might not have opportunities by reason of outrageous party rules to put themselves forward for political office.
The situation where personal finances are not separated from financing for political office makes the idea of political fundraising can be prone to embezzlement and such accounts might not be transparent.
Besides, this opens the avenue of patronage and undue influence peddled by those who consider themselves godfathers and would like loan sharks require that their fillips towards attaining office are fully paid up with outlandish interest distracting the elected from the representation of the electorate that cast their votes for the person to represent their constituent interests.
Idle political parties
As for the maturity of political parties, where the stipulation of a threshold of financial resources is stated before eligibility, it is the basest level of assessment without objective consideration, the party organisation in some ways fails to encourage the best representation if it is not ready to work for the best selection and then support the nominees from a central perspective.
In this situation, making people ineligible because they have not come up from the political rank and file as political jobbers rather than people who have garnered additional experience from outside politics makes clones of representation who have no ideas and vision apart from just politicking.
The wrong assessment criteria
One hopes this is not the condition for political office eligibility across the board and it is rather unfortunate that the leaders offering these conditions were once respected advocates of democratic representation borne from real ability rather than having bags of money stashed away to buy influence, access and opportunity.
These grassroots initiatives do nothing to help our democracy where the emoluments are unbelievably generous [3] and well beyond prosperous middle-class aspirations that it creates aggressive competitive games that involve the elimination of rivals by every means possible.
We then end up with mean, nasty, indifferent, isolated and haughty representatives satisfying their own personal ends rather than that of their constituency.
I would hope that this stipulation is roundly contemned and condemned; Nigeria really cannot afford to have these rules if our democracy should mature into one that is truly representative, responsive and understanding of the purpose of its being.

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