WEEKEND ARENA

Nigerians should ‘cut soap’ for politicians

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A question darted across my mind the other day: Is it proper for a legally married couple to smooch inside the church? Typically, there are many reasons to justify or condemn the scenario above. One would turn to a ‘wanderer’, trying to ‘wonder’ it, according to Femi Kuti. Rationalising it would always leave one in a quagmire. That is pretty the same way our leaders leave us with their decisions and policies. They proffer solutions that often leave the people worse.

As one of those who ardently believe that urgent and decisive steps must be taken for Nigeria to move forward beyond slogans and hopes, I have often advocated true fiscal federalism, which will give every region the chance to develop at its pace. I also see it as the panacea to the various problems afflicting this country. Without such steps, it is likely that in the next 100 years, Nigeria (if still intact) would still be grappling with the problems of today-corruption, lack of electricity, bad roads etc… with the politicians still promising the electorate ‘water and light’ while displaying their signature caps.  The evil system in place has made the few occupying political positions in Nigeria the luckiest in the world. Check it: They get the most pay for doing so little. They are ‘blessed’ with the most laid-back population, who pays very little attention to their activities in office and are often wont to be divided once the ethnic or religious card is played. Most of all, they have a vain populace easily distracted from the real issues of governance by mundane happenings. At the heat of the debate about electoral reforms in Nigeria and the need for its digitization, it took just one man, who got donations of cows for a burial ceremony to distract everyone!

Obi Cubana and his clique of money-spraying ‘mens’ permeated our collective psyche and the buzz up till now is Cubana this…Cubana that. Typical of Nigerians, it got ethicized, with people claiming records of the ‘best burial ceremony in the country. A case of ‘my burial is bigger than yours’.

So disappointing has it become that even some intellectuals (or are they otellectuals?) have joined the fray, without digging deeper to know if there was a motive behind the whole buzz. In all these, the Nigerian man is the loser. Things that affect him have taken the back seat, leaving the politicians pumping fists of victory in their closets.

Why would anyone not take the issue of electoral reforms seriously in a country like ours where the problems all over are a result of mis-governance, which resulted from ‘ambushed power’? Something has to be done to return power back to the people and the easiest way to ensure that is a comprehensive reform that will enhance transparency, credibility and fairness in electoral contests. Anything short of this, smacks of imposition and this is what Nigeria has been suffering from for many years now.

The disadvantages of bad elections are enormous: It takes away the power to decide what happens from the majority of the people and places it on the hands of a few who believe they have no allegiance to anyone. When a politician knows that his excesses cannot be punished, he lives by his own rule, and dwells in the hopes of manipulating the system to his advantage during the next election cycle. This is the reason why we have governors who are emperors and presidents who are tyrants.

Nigerian politicians understand this fact and that is why they are foot-dragging about ensuring such reforms ever happen. The present system has elicited so much voter apathy that many only register for elections to get their PVC as a means of identification for banking transactions. This is why less than 30% of the population ‘elects’ our leaders, because people shy away from such exercises with the submission that their votes do not count. Other injustices which fraudulently allocated bogus population figures to some areas in order to have political advantage will also stop because such electronic systems are programmed to recognize irregularities which usually give rise to those bogus votes.

It is therefore imperative that the citizens should treat all those senators who kept away from this crucial parliamentary assignment with disdain. They should be regarded as the real enemies of the people. The story about a query for Senator Ekwunife is not enough. The constituents should do much more by easing out people like that from the system. In the absence of express restructuring, we can do better by enhancing our electoral system to allow those we want to lead us. Power belongs to the people, so it is the people that should and must ‘cut soap’ for politicians; not the other way!