voteSOMETIMES ago before  the just concluded parties primaries to elect the parties candidates for the elective positions in the next general elections, there was a story about Gen. Mahammodu Buhari weeping about the high cost of buying the All Progressive Congress (APC) nomination forms of about (N27.5 million). It was alleged that he had to take out a loan to do so. In another story it was reported that President Goodluck Jonathan was going to buy People Democratic Party (PDP) nomination form. I think the reported amount was around N22 million. My highly respected electorates were caught asking how much they are selling senate nomination form and other elective position’s nomination forms. It is therefore safe to say that in Nigeria electoral nomination forms are for sale for president Jonathan and Gen. Buhari and others to have purchased their forms for such a high prizes all in the name of seeking for elective positions.
I do not know very well how this could works out in practice but it seems that one “buys” the nomination 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 the millions spend goes down the tube. Imagine that! A million is a million no matter what; it is a large amount of money. So I can never even dream of seeing what the requirements for presidency are much less trying to run. And I believe that one cannot run as an independent either. So only the millionaires and billionaires should entertain the idea of running for office of the presidency. They are the only ones who can afford to find out the requirements.
I believe the way it works in other countries is if one is thinking of running for elective position, you download the nomination forms free from a website of the party. 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.
What difference does the “Nigerian way” make because of giant of corruption. The Igbo say that if one wants to wipe out murders one must have a conversation with blacksmiths. In this case if one wants to find the roots of corruption one must start with the political parties – all of them.
Political shenanigans mostly made up of the state governors are not willing to clean out the Augean stables any time soon, they made sure their anointed candidates were elected in almost all elective posts in the just concluded party primaries in their states. Delegates, mostly made up of venal youths were practically handpicked by agents of state governors in various wards before primary elections were conducted. In most cases, the delegates were lodged in best hotels few days to the primaries, while their feeding and transportation allowances were taken care of. After the exercise they were rewarded financially.
All over the federation, it was stories upon stories of how party delegates were heavily induced to vote in favour of anointed candidates.
In a particular venue in one of the South south states, the delegates were induced with dollars to vote for an anointed candidate, but the out of favour politician who is an incumbent law maker paid twice of the dollar equivalent in naira to the delegates to beat the anointed candidate. It was a case of highest bidder takes it all.
Somewhere in the North, it was a different tale, there was a story of a particular contestant who after inducing the delegates to vote for him, lost out in the party primaries, after the exercise, he was reported to have ordered the delegates that participated in the party primaries for a refund of the money he gave them before the election.
In some states, especially in the ruling party, the out of favour politicians boycotted the scheduled party primaries when they realized it won’t favour them, they mobilized youths and every available persons on the streets to the venue of their scheduled elections and conducted impromptu parallel elections. At the end of the exercise, parallel candidates emerged as substantive flag bearers for their party.
This is not the best of times for our democracy; the cash for votes is awakening the political consciousness in our youths. Some delegates claimed they paid large sums of money to their local government agents to be selected as delegates while others lobbied their way to the ward congresses before they were chosen as delegates. It has become appallingly obvious that the fastest and quickest means to make money before the general elections is to become a delegate.
This precipitous act of state governors in imposing their candidates has robbed off many politicians. While the politicians that failed to clinch their parties’ tickets are still counting the cost, the delegates that participated in the exercise across the federation are enjoying their cash, the decline in our economy didn’t affect their cash for vote income at all, and most of them were on spending spree in the last yuletide season. The largesse was magnanimous enough for some of them to acquire new cars and other necessities of life.
The party delegates and the anointed candidates are two sides of the same coin, both were used to achieve a purpose.
The end might have justified the means for these desperate politicians at the moment but may turn out against them at the long run. The implications might be disastrous; some aggrieved members are already in court. The good and bad news depending on your divide is that most politicians may win the forth coming elections but may not last in their offices as court may over rule in favour of the aggrieved candidates.
The god fathers, mostly made up of state governors are yet to come to terms with the fact that god father god son politics to a greater extent don’t really work in Nigeria. The outgoing governors are in a better position to tell us how long godfather-godson relationships in their various states lasted.
The cash for money votes might have empowered the party delegates financially but one of its consequences is that at the end, politicians that have nothing to offer may end up winning elections and the change we have been crying for will remain a mirage.
Now party primaries are over, all politicians contesting for political posts in next month’s general elections should get ready to give a good account of themselves and expect the unexpected.
What I am saying about the presidential candidates applies to the senate races, the gubernatorial, House of Representative and Houses of Assembly, 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.
One begins to wonder therefore of which extent the Nigerian democracy is becoming so expensive. In my little calculation about the aspirants before the last party primaries, the lest aspirants spending should not be less than 50 million including the purchase of the nomination form as we have seen some of the aspirants shared expensive handset to all the ward chairmen/leaders in a senatorial district, another aspirant was said to have distributed cars to some selected individuals while others lodged their delegates in an expensive hostel in a bid to win the primary. What about the national delegates who were given N300,000 each ie, 3 person each from the local governments. As if these were not enough, prior to the primaries, each of the aspirants were made to pay certain amount of money before he or she could be considered at all and very unfortunately, most of these aspirants lost their primaries may be as a result of allegation against the president, state governors or party chairmen which we now seeing making them to re-aligning to different political parties across the country.
The big questions now begging for answers are, for those who were successful at the primaries are the best candidates for the people?, when will the people be allow to chose their own candidates?, will those candidates ever be accused of non performance after what they have spent, or will it not better for any future aspirants to just gather money for the so-called leaders since democracy is for sale in Nigeria? And finally, will Nigerians ever going to appreciate genuine and God fearing aspirants/candidates who has no money to share? Until we are able to answer these questions, democracy will continue to be on the high prize in Nigeria where poor people will not be able to venture into.
I must sincerely therefore give kudos to some state governors who  never see themselves as opportunity to enrich their personal pocket rather opportunity to serve the people and were still able to give back to the masses in their own little ways in terms of human and infrastructural development.
Since it is generally agreed that the major problem of this nation is corruption and the destiny is in our own hands, I therefore implore you as the countdown to February 14 presidential election fast approaching, we should think twice and vote wisely for someone who we believe will be able to help us fight this our common enemy called CORRUPTION irrespective of party, ethnics, tribe and religion affiliation as the only thing that bond us together is that name called NIGERIA.
There is a silver lining in these stories. Gen. 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.