In decent environment, election time represents the most powerful time when the citizen and so called electorate can use their power. The electorate’s power at this season is so powerful but many do not know. The Politicians know this and that is why they do everything to increase the level of ignorance of the people in order to make them feel powerless, hopeless in the scheme of things.
Corruption and electoral corruption in this instance may not be permanent citizens of Nigeria and Africa only. They are known faces where democracy rules. The degree and finesse is what makes the difference. One major factor that helps electoral malpractices and fraud to reign supreme in some countries may be traceable to level of poverty, illiteracy and low self worth of many of the populace. In Africa, we know the level of literacy may still be higher than in many advanced countries. Poverty level is still very high. This is despite the fact that many African countries keep sending data out to support the fact that all is well. But what is the value of data when average income is almost nothing. In Nigeria, a daily living expense of many families per average is less than five US dollars a day.
It is also a known fact that there is no social security that can serve as a cushion for the biting effect of poverty among the general populace. Coming to think of electoral fraud as well as taking undue advantage of the people, Nigeria and Africa have a long history to tell. With my little experience, While I was growing up up I saw Politicians bringing fertilizers to many poor farmers prior to election. They shared money and channel these through village heads. The money then was meant to be distributed in order solicit the favour the farmers. This was a s far back as 70s and 80s. The only difference I saw then was the fact that even though some of these farmers were poor, some of them still had a level of integrity. As young as I was then, I knew farmers, family members who needed money badly or were so poor and could not afford the meager price of fertilizer bag and who would rather allow their farm crops to go bad than to receive the bride items so they could vote.
Today, it is no longer so. Nigeria politicians are catching up with the greed and level of poverty of the people. They distribute ‘sachet water’ and small bags of rice to the depraved people in order to win their votes. Unfortunately, the Youths who should know better are now being used. They either serve as political thugs or help, connive with these cruel Politicians who have no love for the people. The youths join in perpetuating the ills while the electoral body turns its eyes away as if it does not matter. Politicians flagrantly violate electoral laws, especially those in power. They kick off their election campaign for the next election far ahead of the date such should be done.
A token of three US Dollars is enough for many youths to lose their souls. The National Orientation Agency as well as Electoral body charged with voters’ education will rather wait till few weeks to the election before any meaningful campaign is set in motion. That is if they ever see reason. Nigerians keep hoping for a change but we are not ready to make sacrifices. The Politicians keep marginalizing the electorate, milk them dry. They know the secret. Just borrow or gather ‘allied business folks or godfather as the case may be’ who can raise Ten Billion Naira which you can use to run election because the state cover will be available for looting if you make it to the state house.
There is a law on how much an individual can raise, use for political campaign. No one is obeying that. Our greatest concern today is who will help change the mind of the youth who are colliding with the Politicians to ‘destroy their future’. The journey of tomorrow begins today. What happens tomorrow is greatly determined by our action today. Ekiti State Election is fast approaching, a governorship aspirant who used same strategy to win before is now using the same carrot.
Yet people are falling for this. In Osun State, some ‘concerned friends’ of the incumbent governor are using sachet water popularly known as ‘Pure Water’ to subtly campaign his return to power. We know the Governor,Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has track record of achievements, why wouldn’t his aides and friends campaign on that platform instead of using an item which does not worth one percent of a dollar to campaign. Whatever happens let no one complain especially the youth if these people work hard at regaining their investment when re-elected.
If government, relevant Agencies fail in their work to educate the electorate about their power, where are the relevant civil society groups?