There is something about political orientation in Nigeria that is also influenced by the level of civilization. Within that civilization are the levels of literacy and the standard practice of the values ​​of the people. When we talk about politics, what in the mind of an average Nigerian is an abstract phenomenon, yet critical to public administration; it certainly means different things to different people. For some, politics is just about seizing state resources in a legitimate way. So people seek politics for the sake of power, and the only way to do that is to play politics; that is, being involved in the fabric of politics. For some people, anything goes in politics; even, rules and norms, by not obeying them, is political. So, aside from the standardized definitions, politics is what the player or political gladiator calls it, as long as it is soothing and convenient to his or her interest. Again, politics that is already domesticated has other attributes and these attributes can only be located within the context of the culture in which they are domesticated.

For example, if politics is defined by the old fathers as “who gets what, when, how” (Harold Laswell, 1936); and the ‘authoritative assignment of value’ (David Easton, 1965), yet it has its own characteristics. After all, politics allows you to get certain things done under certain intrigues. It also helps to bend the rules, especially if you play it right. In that context, people make strange choices and induced policies are also mapped out. The summary of all these things is exactly what is happening in Nigeria right now. In the same way, governance is governance, and governance itself depends on leadership. Implicitly, the kind of leadership we get is the kind of government we have. The kind of government we get is the kind of government we will be given. It comes down to leadership, of course. In the Nigerian context, the way leadership emerges is itself problematic. It may seem democratic, but if it is stripped of its finer points, it will be discovered that the rise of leadership in our climate has very undemocratic principles. Take, for example, in order for a person to run as presidential flag bearer of a political party in Nigeria, he must meet a number of conditions. To say the least, these terms have already disenfranchised millions of other Nigerians. In other words, what it takes is, if you look at it, not a level playing field at all.

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According to Amartya Sen, poverty occurs when there is “unfreedom” on the part of the individual citizen to make a free choice of economic or political activities, which is independent of the influence of the state. Political choices are rarely free in Nigeria. Often choices are made by the mass of citizens from the system-limited options. A systemically structured political party produces a limited choice of candidates, making the probability of results deliberately known and predictable! Invariably, the outcomes of people’s choices are fairly and predictably known because people are given guided options. While the systemic control makes the idea of ​​an ‘independent candidate’ alien to Nigeria, the systemic restriction in Nigeria makes it impossible for certain classes of citizens to achieve the privileged status of voting in general elections.

As things stand, Nigeria’s political space is more populated by accidental democrats and opportunistic contractors, and the path to wealth has been pointed out to them. The powerful people have structured the political turnout to always fit their profile and those who are expected to become leaders! For example, it is they who organize the deputies and it is they who feed them. Since it is they who ‘handle’ them financially, they also direct the deputies as to the direction of their (the deputies’) votes. As we can also see, the ability to understand and process problems will always be central to the choices made. For God’s sake, how many people can pay N100 million just to elect a presidential form and how many people can the deputies serve in terms of reality?

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Yes, the provisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stipulate a certain amount to be paid as a fee to each delegate. Even then, how many people can boast in a domestic economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) that currently stands at $440.78 billion? How can an individual pay that kind of money to, say, 1000 delegates? In fact, to be more attractive and stay ahead of other competitors, delegates’ demands have been tightened and ostensibly cashed in. Think about it: can yours honestly afford such a luxury. Who dash monkey banana? Sincerely, who, despite their struggles in life and dedication to nation building, still doesn’t have a roof over their own head? But hey, that’s a discussion for another day! There is no denying that these stumbling blocks have made the process not only undemocratic, but inexplicably maniacal. What it ultimately means is that the societal system has already selectively determined who is the “birthright” to run this fractured microcosm. That is why “daddy” leaves office and puts his “pikin” because it is only the son who has developed all the features that can make him an heir to the throne. That is, of course, why democracy in Nigeria is graphically defined as ‘government of the rich to favor the rich while keeping the poor in hopeless unfreedom’.

Looking at the party’s latest primaries in Nigeria, if you take a cursory look at the number of people who have wanted to rule Nigeria, you begin to wonder where the country is really headed. No, thanks to the subtle political elimination culture that, because of the state’s built-in inhibitions, more often than not disqualifies qualified individuals from running for election! The system would have rendered them so incapacitated that their voices cannot be heard. Even if such people have noble ideas, the only place they can get is in the “other room.” The tragedy of all this is that it is a system that gives Nigerians limited options. So it’s either someone who queues behind ‘Emi lokan’, or gets ‘Atiku-lated’, or just becomes ‘Obi-dient’. When trust between the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola came under severe strain, until it climaxed during the First Republic, Awolowo’s stance—that he was out for development—was clear to everyone. But what was Akintola’s excuse? Well, it was more of a struggle for survival and fame. In other words, politics was reduced to the level of ‘who is the superior’ and ‘who is the subordinate’? If it were the case that SLA wanted to implement a certain development plan and Awo was against it, the story would have been different. The question now is, even after most of the First Republic’s political gladiators have died, has Nigeria been able to climb out of the swamp into which it had sunk?

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Until tomorrow a number of issues were central; and they are the sin, the sinfulness, and the insatiable cunning of the political class. Sad that what we now have in our hands are fitting errors of empty spirituality, wrapped in the exhibition of ecstasy.

  • Komolafe writes from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State

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