Life support

Nigerian democracy on life support

In the first chapter of their 2018 book, “How Democracies Die”, Steven Levistsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors of political science at Harvard University, USA, gave an anecdote about how leaders elected officials can overthrow democracy and increase personal power. The book, which is dubbed “comparative politics,” tells how people all over the world give their freedoms to tyrants, who disguise themselves as democrats and helpers. The tale, which opens the chapter entitled “Fatal Alliances”, is adapted from a fable by Aesop entitled: “The horse, the deer and the hunter”. It goes like this: “A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Deer, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask for his help in getting revenge on the Deer. The hunter agreed, but said: ‘If you desire to conquer the deer, you must allow me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back, that I may stand firm upon you while we follow the enemy. The horse agreed to the terms and the hunter soon saddled and bridled it. Then, with the help of the hunter, the horse soon defeated the deer and said to the hunter, “Now come down and get these things out of my mouth and out of my mouth. my back. “Not so fast, my friend,” said the Hunter. “I have you now under the bit and the spur, and I prefer to keep you as you presently are”. That is exactly what the Nigerians have made in 2015, when they sold the PDP monkey because he had a weird penchant for too much squat and used the proceeds to buy the APC dog, which turned out to be the biggest squatter of all animals. 2023 is fast approaching and we are calling on the APC to remove its cancers from our already scruffy bodies. The group’s response “ruining” is what the hunter said to the deer.

When a diviner tells his client what the oracle reveals about his future (as a client) and the predictions come true almost immediately, he beats his chest and says: “a iti ko Ifa nile, Ifa nse” (we didn’t even pack the divination objects and the prophecies come true). A week ago on this page, in an article titled “The No-Choice Before Nigerians”, an analysis of the two leading presidential candidates for the 2023 general election, I wrote among other things: “In the long run, who becomes the president between the two candidates will be the one who can spend more than the other; and not the one who is more competent, patriotic or who likes the masses”. Exactly five days after the article was published (June 14, 2022), Ekiti State had its election as Governor. In the history of political perfidy in Nigeria, never has the nation witnessed the brazen display of vote buying that characterized the June 18, 2022 election for Ekiti Guber. At the end of the charade, the ruling APC candidate in the elections was declared the winner with 187,057 votes, beating the new party, the SDP, to a distant second with 82,211 votes and the self-destructing PDP at an embarrassing third place with 67,457 votes. What happened in Ekiti is not a case of the most popular candidate or party winning the elections, but a case of the “richest” candidate or party succeeding in buying off the voters. The beauty of it all is that no one among the three major political parties or their candidates and supporters can swear that they did not offer money for votes during the election period.

What happened in Ekiti is a new dimension in our democratic journey as a nation. The event is therefore not only sad for the Ekiti, who until then were considered men and women of honor, but for Nigerians in general. The morning, they say, shows the night. Another round of guber elections will take place in Osun State in a few weeks. No one needs a clairvoyant to reveal what to expect. And without looking at the crystal ball, one can easily predict, on the face of it, that the 2023 general election will be worse than anything we’ve seen so far. This trend is more troubling given that bad behavior takes on a monstrous dimension under the APC, a party that Nigerians invested their goodwill in 2015 in the hope that it would bring decency and hope as opposed to the political thugs of the PDP. imposed on the nation while in power. The reality we all face now is that the APC-led government of General Muhammadu Buhari smothered the very sick baby we asked them to nurse. What a pity! But the leadership of the APC should not be totally blamed for the mess we find ourselves in today.

No, APC did not come up with the idea of ​​buying votes. In fact, vote buying did not originate in Nigeria. In another seminal book, American author and lawyer Mark Joseph Green, in “Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans” (2006), on page 21 writes: “Evidence that the he money screams in politics is mountainous: 94% of the time the highest spending congregational candidate wins and 98% of House incumbents win.The average price of a House seat has increased tenfold from $87,000 in 1976 to $840,000 in 2000. Spending in the last gubernatorial elections in New York and Pennsylvania, for example, tripled in one election cycle.It cost Ken Livingstone 80 cents to win mayor of London in 2001, compared to $100 at Michael Bloomberg in New York that year.” Green, in this analysis captioned: “The Evil of Access: Money and Membership,” compared what parties Democrat and Republican do with the conscience of voters on election days. e “money mostly weeds out good candidates”, and that “as more and more multi-millionaires run and win…the pressure to hustle special interest money becomes even more intense”. In all of the postulations of Green and the two authors cited above, American democratic values ​​were greatly diminished when figures like George Bush and Donald Trump were allowed to come to power. Levistsky and Ziblatt, after analyzing how coups caused almost three out of four democratic collapses, argue that “democracies can die at the hands not of generals, but of elected leaders – presidents or prime ministers – who reverse the very process that brought them to power. Some of these leaders quickly dismantle democracies like Hitler did following the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany…”.

Could the three authors have had Buhari’s APC and its caustic democratic tendencies in mind when they wrote the above books? Which of the vices that the PDP was accused of perpetrating before being ousted from power has the APC not reached a more brazen level today? When the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won the 2007 elections, he publicly admitted that the election had been marred by numerous irregularities and immediately began the process of reforming the country’s electoral process to prevent the recurrence of such irregularities. . Upon his death, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who succeeded him, dusted off the books and reformed the electoral process so that in 2015 he lost the presidential election to incumbent General Buhari. No sooner had the opposition APC seized power than it introduced a new lexicon into our political lexicography by blatantly declaring inconclusive elections in the states of Kogi, Osun, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto at different times. The brazen attitude is such that wherever the APC appears to be losing ground, the election will be declared inconclusive so that in isolated elections held to “conclude” the polls, its candidates must win. This treachery has now been perfected and modified to outright buy voters and their ballots. Whatever the PDP’s “winning strategy” was, it has now been taken to the next level by the seemingly redeeming APC and people are faring worse for it.

For the first time in my life, I was ashamed of being an Ekiti after the elections last Saturday. I have since made countless calls to connections, friends and some community leaders to find out what happened and how the honor we cherish in Ekiti suddenly took off on Saturday. Of all the answers, the one that rings in my ears is an old man’s folk song. In response to my question about how our people did not consider the future of their children before collecting money to vote, the old man sang, “E si umole bi ebi, ebi yoo paniyan ku o ” (meaning: there is no god like hunger, hunger kills a person). In summary, when people are hungry, they do despicable things. If indeed the Ekiti are so hungry that they collect as little as N10,000, and in some cases N3,000 and even N500 to sell their votes to the various political parties, they asked what caused the hunger ? If a government is accused of impoverishing the masses and the same government presents a candidate and supports him with money and the people continue to sell their votes, who is to blame? That should worry the average rational mind. If the Ekiti people with their claims to education, integrity and honor could be so cheap on election day, what happens to the Almajiri people of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa and other northern states? What does the election of Ekiti portend for the 2023 general elections? What lessons do the candidates for next year’s elections draw from what happened in Ekiti? If a Governor’s vote sold for N10,000 in downtown Ekiti in 2022, how much would the Presidential vote cost in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Aba and Umuahia in 2023? And you might want to ask: where did this massive war chest come from?

The above scenario has far-reaching implications for our democracy. Men of honor without money will stay away from our ballots! What happened in Ekiti on Saturday and what will surely happen in Osun State in the coming weeks will ensure that ultimately our democracy will be on life support until the general elections of 2023 when it will suffer an irrecoverable cardiac arrest which will ultimately hand over his corpse to future generations for scientific study on how not to run a democracy. Democracy dies when talented people and those with natural administrative ingenuity stop running for office because they lack the financial means to compete with bags of money who possess mountains of ill-gotten wealth to buy votes. Ruined elites perpetuate the riddle of poverty against citizens so that they are not self-sufficient enough to withstand the miserable sums offered to them on election days in exchange for what could have been a viable future for them. them and their innocent offspring who have nothing else to inherit but the poverty of their parents. What the current plague of grasshoppers who call themselves our political leaders has told the masses through massive vote buying is that it is not wrong for their cats to eat pregnant rats. Nothing kills democracy more than that!

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