The new political movement that aims to unseat the ruling party and defeat the major opposition would need to bring back the population who have sworn apathy to politics and convince the poor electorates not to sell their votes. But how?
By Muhammad Adamu
For its economic giant status and political relevance in the continent, who wins a general election in Nigeria and how it is won are often a global concern; expectedly, Nigeria never disappoints. As the country swings towards its election cycle, a political movement vows a revolution to unseat the ruling party and defeat the major opposition, but it faces difficulty in a democracy flawed with political apathy and plutocracy.
Though the Nigerian Constitution recognizes the right of every qualified citizen to vote and be voted for, the super expensive cost of winning an election would only favour the rich and against any political revolutionary. Despite the reduction in the minimum age for political offices in the last Not Too Young to Run law, the cost of winning an election could only become more expensive.
Doyin Okupe, a former Presidential Spokesman of the People Democratic Party, the major opposition party, revealed that “no Nigerian President in the last 20 years has spent less than $100 million (N41.5 billion) to be President;” at present, the sum is way above $300 million (N124.5 billion). This time, the first step of this extravagant spending began from the ruling party’s nomination form pegged at $238,379 (N100 million) and its opposition counterpart at $95,320 (N40 million).
Meanwhile, 39 percent of the country’s population, about 83 million, who live below the poverty line find every election cycle as a blooming season to sell their votes, sometimes as high as $23.5 (N10,000). As it turns out, these people form the high percentage of those who vote in elections.
And despite the increment in the number of eligible voters, the percentage of those who are exercising their franchise continues to plummet. In 2019, only 35 percent — less than 30 million of about 83 million eligible voters — voted in the election that brought in the current administration. In 2003, it was 69 percent of the eligible voters.
Those who are sceptical about the credibility of elections in Nigeria are driven by a series of electoral frauds such as the abuse of power by the incumbent government, political violence perpetrated by co-contenders and vote-buying which has become a core ingredient in the elections. The result is that the winners are mostly defined by those who have game-over cards and leverages over the losers.
Unfortunately, over the past two decades, the flawed democracy has degenerated the country politically and economically, leaving the populace at the mercy of the so-called “elected” leaders who repress the freedom of the press and expression, nonchalant to the security threat that placed the country among the most terrorised nations and those who would close the borders and force the citizens to suffer from an inflated economy.
But with the current political awakening among the youths, Nigerians could be on the verge of revolutionising the country’s politics and beginning a new chapter in the history book.
Evident from experience, the electorates have the power to cast out an unwanted ruling party, but the efforts invested should be remembered, including a mega coalition never before seen in the country’s third republic politics. Needless to point out that to cast out such a formidable party that now wields immense power and possesses wealth accumulated over the years would require more than social media soldiers who struggle to convince a population already sworn apathy to politics.
Nigeria’s economy going down the drain, partly implicated by the global circumstances, is compounded by years of consistent food prices inflation of which insecurity and bad policies like border closure are major causes. While the citizens are frustrated at the conditions they are in, those who vote are the pundits who believe their menace is destined and those who only need something to feed their family.
If any new political movement is serious about taking over the power in 2023, perhaps waking up those who have sworn apathy to politics might be the way to start.