Our electoral season of anomie and itinerant hustlers
March 13, 2023108 views0 comments
BY CHARLES ODION IYORE
Charles Iyore, a partner at DNA Capital, writes from Darenth Kent, England. He can be reached by email at Dioncta@aol.com and +447932945002 (text only)
Everyone is talking!
And blaring trumpet horns!
Chest beating, foot stomping and loud voices!
Tears and regrets, oh!
Will someone please stop to breathe, and tell me where we are all headed?
No please, this is the mark of the electoral season. A season of anomie with many counting their gains and losses. They proclaim territories, demand refunds from non-performing hirelings of all descriptions, and begin preparation for the rounds of court adjudication. Nothing, it would seem, can stop them in their tracks.
Politicians are truly eternal optimists when in the quest for public office. What a hullabaloo!
That’s all that matters to the key players, win and be in charge, no one bothers to know if there are any incremental gains over the prevailing periods of governance. This is the way it has always been, except in a few instances, since 1960.
Winning is an opportunity to hold court with ‘loyal’ members, and to be accountable to no one.
Does anyone ask if citizens are better-off now than they were in the period leading up to the elections? No, my friend!
This for them (politicians) is a season of gain and prospects. Do not be deceived my friend, they are all in it together and the list of role plays in this season of great expectations is exhaustive.
• The polling agent, waiting to sell his/her conscience to the highest bidder once the votes are cast and collated.
• The political party chairman and his executives, auctioning-off tickets to the highest bidders while quietly pocketing the proceeds.
• The electoral umpires, knowing that their decisions present winners with the keys to the treasury and positioning to make the most of it.
• The traditional rulers, joining in the fray, willing to abuse their police search immunities, and offering their palaces as theatres of political process manipulation.
• The prophets, alfas and babalawos, full of slanted predictions of the outcomes, often for a fee, all claiming direct lines to the Almighty.
• The media, full of conjectures, (perhaps paid for), and now greatly expanded by the social media opportunities for publishing, to disruptively manipulate voter perceptions of the events and outcomes.
• The lawyers, waiting in the wings and hoping that the processes are inconclusive so they can make hay, out of the adjudication. Many, throwing out published opinions, as advertisement, about every possible outcome and boasting of how swiftly they can vary them in the client’s favour. (For the right fees).
• Finally, the voters, knowing they are too far down the line of gravy distribution; settling for whatever price their vote is worth.
So, let’s get serious. Does anyone expect anything credible from these relationships and role plays? All the actors are protecting their private interests and the defence of the common good is only a remote consideration. These actors have been waiting patiently for this season and nothing can moderate their desire to make the most of the opportunities.
The aetiology of it all
At the heart of this season of anomie are the political parties, which are deliberately poorly organised and who do not develop any registers of membership. Those loose formations make them suitable to acquire, by candidates desperate for contest tickets.
INEC requests a record of offices and representation in a number of locations but does not request or verify membership registers in their party registration process. With no revenues from subscription and dues, the revenue voids are filled by ticket hunters who go through opaque auction processes. The leadership grafting begins immediately, sets-in after the auctions, with winning factions purloining the proceeds rather than oiling the party machinery.
With no funding for polling unit agents and a dearth of committed members, the parties expect INEC to be their watchful eyes and may even seek to pay for such services. INEC however, runs her activities with an army of volunteers and temporary staff. Your guess is as good as mine if parties do not have their own trusted eyes on the ball (votes). This is the poor level of vigilance that makes data switching and alteration possible. –Therein lies the devil in the details! (The fly in the ointment)
So, the preferred relationship flow for our players (politicians) is for a weak party, attractive enough for purchase by ticket hunters, who must be ready to be manipulated by the party hierarchy. The party membership attracted to such an association will always be mercenary in outlook, and probably cluster into factions, formed around the competing party leaders.
These compromised relationships, makes it difficult for the party hierarchy to interrogate or check their candidates when they win, and leaves the party administrative leaders unable to hold party agents and workers, who they have short-changed, to account.
That formation, with slight variations, is what operates at the local government, state and federal levels of our administrative arrangements.
So, unaccountable parties cannot be expected to run accountable governments.
This has been the cycle of our leadership election for a long time.
Caught in the middle, the new leadership that emerges from the on-going processes must be prepared to use their democratic credentials, at the end of the vice grip of the military, to set a new tone and break from the past.
Democracy as a competition of ideas and candidates, will always have its winners and losers, but the processes must increasingly become more credible.
So, can we get our politics right and reduce or eliminate the slacks in our bureaucracy?
Can we assemble teams to husband our resources for common prosperity?
Can that prosperity be created and shared in an inclusive manner?
Can we properly define our governance equation so taxation doesn’t seem alien, but an integral part of the development process?
These and many more are the questions for now and they clearly do not have tongue, tribe and creed colouration.
Our challenges are universal and our solutions can be inclusive.
Note: This commentary was written with contributions from Nasiru Zahradeen, Osaze Iyamu and Femi Awoyemi
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