According to Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy; he said ” democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. Countries like Nigeria who adopted this system of governance must place the ordinary citizen at the center stage of any act. The ordinary individual is paramount because power emanates from them. Equality is an essentially scrumptious ingredient in democratic governance and every effort must be ensured to protect it jealously.
In a multi party democracy like ours therefore, people must have equal right for any political activity whilst political parties have a level playing field to seek for political power. The situation in Nigeria deserves a critical attention and I humbly scribes to register my grievances to certain acts I personally consider detrimental to the growth and development of our very young democratic settings.
First and foremost, it is a common knowledge that democracy is expensive but in as much as we accept to practice it, we should not engage in certain actions and inactions to downside any citizen who has an equal right in absolute participation in the democratic process.
It is for this reason, I was terrifically flabbergasted when I read and heard about the filling fees of the parliamentary and presidential elections. According to my research in regards to the political parties; records had it that ; in 2015, PDP presidential forms sold at exorbitant rate of N22 million with expression of interest forms selling at N2 million while the nomination forms went for N20 million. Whilst ;
APC presidential forms were sold for N27.5 million as the expression on interest forms sold at N2.5 million and nomination forms went for N25 million.
I consider the amount, outrageous and extravagant to pay by a poor determined citizen who wants to contest in such elections. Does it means that if you are not rich, you cannot contest election in Nigeria? Does it not also create a situation where only the rich will continue to rule the country and hence creating a sectional democracy between the rich and poor?
For me, the repercussion of paying such an outrageous amount to contest elections are enormously adverse. This is the more reason why political actors when capture political power always at first device looting means at the detriment of the ordinary Citizens because elections are now the biggest investment by people who can afford. The dire consequences are the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment precipitated by corruption.
We are in a country where elections are mostly funded by the taxpayers money but still yet, the nomination form fees standstill at such an extravagant cum gargantuan amount at the detriment of the poor.
We have reached a stage where we should be thinking of considering state funded campaign by all political parties and those who seeks to contest elections. I have heard others argue that the said amount is not much as compared to nomination and filling fees for presidential and parliamentary hopefuls in the various political parties internal elections.
That argument does not make sense to me at all. Let me crave the indulgence of those proponents that the operation cost of those elections are fully taken care of by the political parties. The same cannot be mentioned of this impending 2019 election which is national in character and fully funded by the national budget.
We must refresh our brains and rethink as a nation. The smaller political parties may not be in a good financial disposition to meet such outrageous charges and that can collapse their political ambitions.
Political parties have also contributed to this uncharitable situation of doing business with our democracy. The major political parties have accused each others of vote-buying. Vote-buying must not be accepted. The dirty plan is to buy the conscience of the electorates. That aside, where do the political parties get their resources for such?
Business men sponsor these evil acts and in the event that such parties win political power, the sponsors get their returns by way of contracts.
In fact, vote buying is promoting corruption in Africa, especially in Nigeria.
Is that the democracy we choose to practise? If the ordinary Nigerian who has capacity to lead his people cannot afford to win elections, then certainly democracy is for sale and belongs to only the rich. The disregard for some of these avoidable actions has the propensity to inciting the lower class against the ruling class in the near future, if care is not taking. This is because, there is a seemingly widening gab between the penurious class and the rich and this is very evident in the happenings in our sociopolitical terrain.
I implore the Stakeholders and policy makers of this country to jealously, critically and carefully take into consideration and scrutinization some of these things and save our nascent democracy. Let’s not wait for the worse to happen before we cry over spilled milk. It is better late than never.
– Godwin Jibrin Bakwo