Democracy For Sale In Nigeria

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

A couple of weeks ago there was a story about Mr. Buhari weeping about the high cost of buying the APC nomination forms (N27.5 million). It was alleged that he had to take out a loan to do so. In another story it was reported that Mr. Jonathan was going to buy PDP nomination form. I think the reported amount was around N25 million. My highly respected colleague, MOE (Dr. Mo Eneh) was caught asking if Mr. Chime has bought PDP’s senate nomination form or if Mr. Ekweremadu has done the same. It is therefore safe to say that in Nigeria electoral nomination forms are for sale. Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Buhari, Mr. Moe Eneh, et al use the lingo.

National-Assembly1

I do not know very well how this works out in practice but it seems that one “buys” the forms and fills it out and returns it to be processed. If one buys the form and finds out that he is not able to meet the requirements his N27.5 million goes down the tube. Imagine that! A million is a million, is a large amount of money. So a Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba can never even dream of seeing what the requirements for presidency are much less trying to run. And I believe that he cannot run as an independent either. So only the millionaires and billionaires should entertain the idea of running for office. They are the only ones who can afford to find out the requirements.

The way it works in other climes is if you are thinking of running you download the nomination forms free from a website. You fill the forms out and try to provide the requirements demanded and if you think you have met the demands you return the forms with the “PROCESSING FEES.” The processing fees are to cover the cost of checking you documents for accuracy. It is usually a nominal amount that ordinary party members can afford. So a Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba if he feels the bug can download the Republican nomination form and complete it and return it with the fees (which I can afford) and wait for results which in this case is that I am not qualified because “records show that you were not born in US per section so-so-and-so of the constitution.” I would be out a few hundred dollars.

What difference does the “Nigerian way” make. The Igbo say that if one wants to wipe out murders one must have a conversation with blacksmiths (a choba isi ochu I jee n’uzu). In this case if one wants to find the roots of corruption one must start with the political parties – all of them.

If a Mr. Buhari raises the N27 million through donations and loans, the loans must be paid off during his time in office. How would he pay it off? The most logical source would be from his services to the country. You can see where I am going with this. If Mr. Jonathan does not need a loan to buy the form, where did his money come from? We know he was a university professor, a deputy governor and now the president. We can say that he was not a millionaire when he taught college courses.

What I say about the presidential candidates applies to the senate races, the gubernatorial, House, etc. That is the number of people who would have their hands in the treasury. There cannot be checks and balances since the checkers and the balancers are in the same boat.
So if we want to wipe out corruption we must start at the root, the political party nomination standards. If parties charge tens of millions of naira for the chance to bear their party flags, the purchasers must recoup their investments; if there is a quid here, there must be a pro quo somewhere.

There is a silver lining in these stories. Mr. Buhari was caught weeping at the high cost. I give him considerable credit for seeing the evil in Nigeria’s democracy. This could be reason enough to vote for him hoping that he would do something about it. But then he has other heavy baggage, the least of which is not his ability to govern a multi ethic, multi religious country like Nigeria.

The discussion about murders must start with a conversation with black smiths.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
Boston, Massachusetts
November 15, 2014

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