3 things the recent elections in Nigeria reveals about the nation
Nigeria, Africa`s biggest economy and the world`s most populous black nation recently conducted its 2019 general elections which saw the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari re-elected, although not without a fight from his main opposition Atiku Abubakar a business tycoon and former vice president.
Two weeks after, on the 9th of March 2019, the Governorship and state parliament elections were conducted and the same political dynamics played out to reveal a lot about Nigeria, its political elites, and why the nation is in its current state. Lets be reminded that Nigeria recently overtook India as the Nation with the highest rate of extreme poverty, with six people falling into extreme poverty every minute as reported by Bloomberg.
Question is why is Nigeria the worlds poverty capital despite being rich in natural and human resources? I would need to submit another article to answer that, nevertheless, the recent elections show a few things you should know about Nigerian politics.
Politics cost money and blood.
It is not a new revelation in the Nigerian polity that you need a lot of money to get involved in Politics, perhaps it is so everywhere, but depending on what you are contesting for, you either have to have millions of dollars to spend, political thugs to disrupt the process in your favour, or have a political godfather who can make it happen for you.
Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for young people who have the best interest of the nation at heart to get elected.
Yet, politics is a lucrative business. For instance, Nigerias parliamentarians are one of the highest paid in the world, but despite the good pay, we can make a thousand-page report on their many cases of corruption.
All of these explain why political elites in Nigeria seek power at all cost. It also explains why the last election was marred by violence with death toll reported to be over fifty across the nation, in fact, a sitting member of the House of Representatives was shot dead on gubernatorial Election Day in a southwestern state.
Poverty and illiteracy is a tool for die-hard politics
When a person is poor, integrity is not as desirable as a bowl of rice or a $10 note; such is the case of a poverty-stricken society and vote buying. Nigerian politicians took advantage of the poor to engage in vote buying for as low as $3- $25 person. Unfortunately, the uninformed and uneducated voters who are always in the majority see their voter’s cards as a means to an end during election seasons.
A case in point was a young man I saw while at the polling unit to cast my vote, he was confidently saying loudly that he and his friends won’t vote if the political party agents don’t pay him. I didn’t wait to see the end of it, but he must have been paid. The irony of this, however, is that many of these young people bear the brunt of bad governance; yet, poverty has skewed their thinking from realizing that they are the ones who can inspire change.
Sadly, this is the joy of the political elite who prefers to give guns to them and share bags of money in order to win elections.
Another thing that shows the level of unbelief in the system is the extremely low voter’s turnout.
Only 34.75% of registered voters participated in the election that saw President Buhari emerge for a second term in office, which is the lowest voter turnout recorded in the history of Nigeria.
Although this is due in part to the postponement of the election in the early hours of the date initially scheduled but largely due to a lack of confidence in the electoral system and the fear of violence that may ensue.
Whether Nigerians know it or not, what this reflects is that the minority elected political officials that will govern the majority at least for the next four years, which of course, is an anomaly but Nigeria’s reality.
Politicians will not save Nigeria
While the 2019 elections are over now, it must be known that the kind of money politics that is currently being played in Nigeria clearly shows that politicians will not save the nation, for them, politics is a lucrative business and power is a grip they never want to lose, so if Nigerians want freedom and prosperity, they must educate the uninformed and inspire the poor to rise and demand good governance of their politicians.
by Lanre Peter
Lanre Peter is the Co-founder and Creative Director at Ominira TV in Nigeria.