Political Trading In Nigeria: Time For Formidable & Credible Opposition
(Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 3rd April 2015)-Political Trading in Nigeria includes defecting from one political party to another for the purpose of material and other vested interests. It is also Political Trading when religious leaders or preachers turn their playing grounds into political Mecca and Jerusalem receiving, praying and prophesying for elected top political office holders such as president, vice president, governors, senate or deputy senate president, speaker or deputy speaker of federal and State legislative houses; for the purpose of getting bountiful cuts and contracts from the government coffers; without putting electoral, governance or legislative illegitimacy of the referenced elected politicians into account.
In the rights based Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria, Political Trading also exists. This is the case when they are parasitically attached to an existing State or Federal Government; not minding the electoral and governance credibility and legitimacy question of the referenced government. When a civil society group is parasitically attached to the referenced government, it loses popular advocacy focus and engages at all times in defending all policies and actions of the referenced government in the context of the good, the bad and the ugly. Political Trading is also synonymous with dollar trading in Nigeria's rights CSOs whereby most, if not all of their advocacy activities are determined by interest areas and dollar availability of the foreign donor agencies. In this context, homemade or locally generated activism is nailed in coffin. That is to say such CSOs are not capable of carrying out advocacy activities without dollar support and foreign donor interests.
In Nigeria's media industry including paper, online, visual and audio-visual media, Political Trading is found. This is when the media industry is gagged by State or federal government suffering from governance or electoral illegitimacy. In this context, the referenced media becomes parasitically attached and loses independence and corporate integrity. The Nigerian media, particularly its electronic and print segments has also been infested by political parasites following huge financial investments made into it by leading politicians using stolen or ill-gotten State resources. In other words, several paper and electronic media in Nigeria today are owned or controlled by thieving politicians. In all these, corruption, greed, nepotism, favoritism, parasitism, clannishness, selfishness, deceit and primordialism have taken the center stage in the country's socio-economic and political settings.
Practically speaking, Nigerian politics of today is dominated by political traders, lepers and jobbers, whose sole interest is to corner, loot and plunder State resources. In other words, dry quest for national cake as against natural thirst for service to humanity, dominates politics of contemporary times in Nigeria. The recently conducted Presidential Election in Nigeria is a clear case in point. From rights based Civil Society groups to religious leaders/preachers; captains of industry to present and past top public office holders, both elected and appointed; politicians of the other divides to contractors; and media houses to God knows others; each and every one of them seems thirsty for national cake flowing from Aso Rock Villa.
Sycophancy, crass cronyism, greed, parasitism and contradictions have rented the air following Mr. Muhammadu Buhari's victory. The stark reality is that Aso Rock Villa under Mr. Buhari's presidency and midwifery can never contain or accommodate each and every one of the referenced. That is to say that in six months time, murmurings, antagonisms and in-fighting will explode in the President elect's camp over who has gotten and who did not get the national cake.
President Elect's Speech:
Mr. Muhammadu Buhari's acceptance speech offers a huge laugh and social infantilism in the eyes of every lettered, conscientious and futuristic Nigerian. It is also darkened and contradictory. For instance, his political camp is surrounded by doyens of corruption in Nigeria, who are capable of winning Mo Ibrahim Awards in corruption and corrupt practices. Several Emirs of Mr. Buhari's tribal Emirate dynasty who will form his ruling kitchen cabinet are fraudulent operators of oil wells obtained through fraudulent oil licenses in the Niger Delta. Till date, over 70% of the oil wells in the Niger Delta are in the hands of illicit oil moguls of core northern extraction including leading Emirs in the area. Interestingly, the fraudulent oil well licenses were given to their referenced holders mostly during the Buhari, Babangida and Abacha's military inglorious epochs. As a matter of fact, the President elect's anti corruption mantra is an extension of psychology of politics. Besides, corruption in present Nigeria has extensively been codified and legalized. For instance, a Senate President may decide not to corner or illicitly pocket government funds, but through legal means, he or she can still live like a king or queen.
This is achievable through hyped overheads, security votes, estacodes and allowances including ascendance and severance allowances all backed by law. Same thing applies to governors and president via security votes, overheads, allowances and contractors' blown envelopes; and lawmakers, commissioners and ministers through overheads, allowances, constituency projects and contractors' blown envelopes. Our questions are: Can the President elect successfully revisit lopsided oil operational licenses held by his kinsmen? Can he successfully arrest, investigate, prosecute and convict doyens of corruption in his camp? Can he successfully revisit and stiffen the country's weak and graft friendly anti graft codes? Can he successfully revisit the country's State and federal codes and administrative laws that contain obnoxious allowances, overheads and security votes and halve them for their re-channelization into collective social development? Can the President elect do all these without being ruffled and uprooted by their illegitimate beneficiaries? Can he stop budget inflations in the Federal and State Legislative houses?
Need For Formidable & Credible Opposition In Nigeria:
As the President elect and his APC together with its supportive rights CSOs of the Southwest stock take over the federal government on 29th May 2015, the need for new formidable and credible opposition in Nigeria is extremely important. With the elevation of the foregoing to the presidency of Nigeria, the civil society opposition which held sway in Lagos axis of the Southwest is dead and buried.
The recent advice given to the President elect by a group of Southwest based CSOs noted for their protective and defensive interface with the new federal incumbent way back in Lagos State; is popularly seen as an attempt to probate and reprobate. As they were part and parcel of the Government of Lagos State and its party, so they ought to function in the new federal government. They also seemed to have served as a medium of interface between INEC and their friends in the referenced government. They recently probated and reprobated when they openly commended INEC and its headship for conducting free, fair and credible presidential poll and at the same time alleged that elections were rigged in the South for President Goodluck Jonathan. They turned blind eyes to lopsided PVCs distribution, denial of 12.4 million registered voters their rights to vote and millions of under-age voters that voted massively for the candidate they fought for in the north.
Consequently, we call for a new formidable and credible CSOs opposition to the new federal government in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria including the Southwest zone. As expected the incoming federal government will move to the Aso Rock Villa with all its paraphernalia including the referenced rights CSOs and supportive Southwest print and electronic media. This leaves Nigerian political space with a big vacuum in socio-political opposition industry. We also wish to allay the fears of some politicians and ethnic entities that opposition means being denied of federal government presence.
In democracy, opposition strongholds are the hot bride for the government in power. In the South-south and the Southeast, no government in Nigeria can do without them. The South-south and the Southwest zones can also do without Speakership of House of Reps and Senate Presidency. In the outgoing PDP led federal government, the Southwest zone survived without any of the plum legislative posts; likewise the Southeast zone. The Northeast zone has not produced any president, speaker of the federal house or senate president since 1966; except vice presidency occupied by Mr. Atiku Abubakar from Adamawa State (1999 to 2007); yet they have survived.
Political defection is not only antithetical to political opposition, but also an electoral crime against the electorates. People vote according to their ideological and socio- value belief. The massive rejection of the APC in the Southeast and the South-south zones, for instance, is generally seen as a protest against the endless slaughtering of their sons and daughters in the Northern part of the country; and any beneficiary of such hallowed electoral choice who defects for vested reasons stands to be condemned by the spirits of those murdered and butchered in the North.
We therefore call on the PDP and other political parties in Nigeria to go back to the drawing board and give Nigeria and Nigerians formidable and credible opposition. To achieve this, thorough restructuring of the parties are needed, which will include flushing out all political lepers and traders in the parties. Political financiers or god fathers should no longer be allowed leadership roles in the parties. They should remain financiers and treated and respected as such. The referenced parties should also invest heavily in and political intellectualism, research and information technology and form a formidable shadow and forensic simulated government at any level of government in the country where it is in opposition.
In Anambra State, we are bold to make same appeal to the APGA led government of Mr. Wiilie Obiano. The party must stop infighting and denigration of those that contributed pricelessly in re-branding it. The outcries by the referenced party of manipulation of the last National Assembly poll results by the PDP are currently being looked into by our leadership. We make bold to say that the collective decision of the electorates in the polling stations is sacrosanct and untainted. Such a hallowed electoral decision is beyond political lines and personal relationship. If it is factually true at the end that the sacred results of the electorates were manipulated against all or some APGA candidates all over the State or any part thereof, then we shall follow and guide the rigged to the last level of electoral courts. We did it before under the State Branch of the CLO when Mr. Peter Obi of APGA as well as Mrs. Joy Emodi and Dr. Christian Okeke of the PDP were brutally rigged in governorship, Senatorial and House of Reps polls till they got back their stolen mandates in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Barr Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program