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{OBSERVATION} 2023 Elections: The Poor Are Mere Participants

  BY ADEMOLA YAYA DEMOCRACY is all about the rule of the majority. This implies that from the very inception of a political party formation, ideology, rules and regulation, primaries to determine the leadership of the party and candidates that will contest public offices under the platform of the party, decision of the majority, rightly…”
January 27, 2023 4:06 am



DEMOCRACY is all about the rule of the majority. This implies that from the very inception of a political party formation, ideology, rules and regulation, primaries to determine the leadership of the party and candidates that will contest public offices under the platform of the party, decision of the majority, rightly or wrongly, must be the bedrock. This is the joy and beauty of democracy. However, the poor who are the majority have been technically schemed out in political parties and by the constitution and electoral law to form their own. For instance, under the guise of reflecting federal character of Nigeria on the formation of a political party, Section 223(2)b of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended states, in stipulating a stringent condition for forming a political party, “the members of the executive committee or members of other governing body of a political party must reflect federal character of Nigeria only if the members thereof belong to different states not being less in number than two-thirds of all the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.” The implication of this is that for a political party to be registered, it must have officers and offices in 24 states and Abuja, in addition to other laborious stipulated logistics.

The poor will definitely find it extremely difficult, except they are lucky to have a moneybag that is sympathetic to their cause and prepared to clandestinely support with the logistics involved. Formation of National Conscience Party (NCP) in 1994 by Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi to galvanize and provide a political platform for the poor against military ban on all political party is an example of such rare cases. But why couldn’t a political party be limited to local, state or region for limited objective within such locality? After all, Action Group (AG) which was formed in Ibadan on 21 March, 1951 as an arm of Egbe Omo Oduduwa was western region based and won regional power in Western Nigeria under British Colonialism and also partook in the national elections on the eve of Nigeria independence in 1960 but was unable to garner required votes and support outside its confined region. If the military had not taken power in 1966 and dismantled political development, AG or any regional party, would have formed an alliance or evolved as a national party.

Truth be told, the poor have lost out in the 2023 general elections, especially on 25th February Presidential and National Assembly elections as that elections have been won and lost, between the ruling elite and the poor – before, during and after the primaries that produced the candidates of all major political parties. Recall that the tag price placed on nomination form and expression of interest in their conventions last year clearly shredded the poor and the middle-class elements that were deceiving themselves by claiming to be members of these parties. For instance, the ruling APC nomination form and expression of interest fee for a presidential aspirant was N70million and N30million respectively, totaling N100milion; N50million for governorship aspirant; N20million and N10million for Senatorial and House of Representatives aspirants respectively. The main opposition PDP which is the ruling party’s Siamese twins fixed its presidential nomination form at N40million; governorship N21million; Senate and House of Representatives at N3.5million and N600,000 respectively. If PDP were to be the ruling party, its nomination form fee could have, most likely, surpassed that of APC. 

At their conventions where their candidates that will contest next month general elections emerged, it was so designed, schemed and monitised that no poor or middle-class element who has genuine interest to contribute to development of our society could either aspire or have capacity to emerge as a candidate except those who had appropriated our collective wealth to their private pockets when they held sway in government.

Yes, campaign for mass collection of PVC and massive voting by the people for the candidates of their choice is lofty based on promises of better life by candidates. But experiences should have, by now, taught the poor people some lessons that what they will get in exchange for giving them mandate is increase of misery and poverty in the midst of abundance while the ruling elite take jolly good care of themselves. For instance, the outgoing 9thNational Assembly legislators who would not be returning to the National Assembly have taken care of themselves in the 2023 national budget.  They have carved out N30.17b severance package for themselves, to be drawn from N21.83 trillion passed by same National Assembly on 28th December, 2022 and signed into law by President Buhari on 3rd January, 2023 for 2023 fiscal year, which is an increase of almost N7billion than the 8th Assembly package in spite their humongous monthly salaries and various allowances. Same applies in the states and local governments between executives and legislators but the poor, at all levels, have no succor but an uninterrupted suffering.

If the truth must be said, the poor, who are the majority, will only be choosing between Satan and Lucifer. Ab initio, they have been schemed out of the leadership and representation. Therefore, no illusion after the elections and inauguration of the winners as it will be business as usual-the ruling elite will continue to protect their own interest but incessantly launch attacks on the living and working conditions of the poor. It is only through their collective struggles and protests one or two concessions could be won and lost over time as the ruling elite get more emboldened, justifying it on “austerity measure” without necessarily affecting their frolicking and flamboyant lifestyle. Unfortunately, there is no short route for the poor to liberate themselves other than to organise, mobilise and struggle to form their own political party in name and ideology and with candidates for public offices emerging from their real sweat, strength and blood only and not by other immediate pecuniary factors. Alternately, they could massively join one of the existing parties, in an organised manner with deliberate intent, to do same.  If they could attain this feat sooner than later, then, freedom is in sight for better life and happiness for the poor who are the majority democracy craves. 

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