Party Primaries: Nigeria’s Delegate System Is Corrupt – THEWILL NEWS MEDIA

Wealthlandnews June 12, 2022
Updated 2022/06/12 at 2:33 PM

June 12, (THEWILL) – Before the major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held the conventions that produced their flag bearers for next year’s presidential election, I had cause to write about the significant responsibility that party delegates owe this country in putting forward men and women of unimpeachable character and exemplary leadership, who will be charged with leading the country towards progress.
Under the title, “Delegates, Monetisation of Politics and Danger to Nigeria’s Democracy” on May 29, I pointed out how it was unfortunate that the lofty nature of the ideal roles of party delegates had not been considered, with the sacredness it deserved, by the political class in Nigeria, especially those of the two major political parties. Delegates from both parties brazenly displayed wanton disregard for the exalted roles of their positions, preferring selfish enrichment, instead.
While the conventions went on, the recurring theme was the ungodly sums that had been disbursed to delegates by aspirants anxious to be nominated by the parties for one elective or the other. The higher the position the candidate was vying for, the higher the sum of money demanded by the delegates, with the presidential candidates dolling out as much as $20, 000 per delegate to buy votes.

Deaf to the entreaties of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who warned that the country was inching towards plutocracy, the delegates themselves volunteered their votes to the highest bidder and auctioned off their national responsibilities in exchange for selfish financial gains.
What the reduction of this hallowed process of our inchoate democratic practice to nothing more than an inordinate and illegal financial transaction resulted in was the elevation of personalities of dubious characters brandishing ill-gotten wealth to the point of being one event removed from deciding the collective fortune for, at least, the next four years.
While there are many Nigerians who have demonstrated that they possess the leadership attributes, the mental acuity, the prerequisite skills and talents to mastermind Nigeria’s progress and lead her in the 21st century of technological advances and progressive thoughts without the tainted resumés of previous acts of corruption, these delegates ended up taking the entire nation backwards, to the time when the country was just emerging from the debilitating years of military rule.
This retrogressive disposition cannot be coming at a worse time. At a time when South Africa is ranked 19th globally as a financial hub by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Kenya is regarded as the “Silicon Savannah” of the world for having advanced quickly as a hotspot for some of the continent’s most innovative digital enterprises, 200 digitised services and comprehensive online government-to-citizen services platform and Rwanda’s Mara Group has become the first manufacturer of a smartphone made entirely in Africa and uses drones to deliver critical supplies to inaccessible areas, what we have seen play out here is that the possibility of trying to even get out of our own way before we can begin to conceive of competing on the continent has been stymied by the very self-serving decisions of a subset of Nigerians, who will themselves be victims of the repercussions of the money-politics they have foisted on the entire country.
The process of selecting candidates from which pool Nigerians will have the opportunity to elect their government at the local, state and federal levels and above all, at the presidential level, ought to involve a critical examination of these candidates, their antecedents, physical and mental capacities to handle the grueling tasks required of elected officials and how they handle pressure and failure.
It involves the close reading of the candidates’ manifestos, macroeconomic blueprints, developmental policy ideas, socio-economic proposals for each year of their expected time in power juxtaposed with measurable milestones against which progress can be tracked, their proposed team of experienced hands to whom they will delegate some of the responsibilities that accrue to them, their selflessness and willingness to truly serve in the capacity for which they were elected as public servants.
In no place was it required to check how fat the candidates’ foreign currency accounts, loaded with ill-gotten wealth nor how much they can bid to be accorded the votes they need to become flagbearers of their parties. Yet, the latter prevailed as we all witnessed. That is why many well-meaning Nigerians, eminently qualified for the exalted offices for which elections will hold next year, completely kept themselves away from the charade of an electioneering process. It is the reason why individuals with the wherewithal to orchestrate the sort of progressive systems that will drive growth, engineer change, dynamise development and advance overall push forward want no part in the process. It explains why those who have worked judiciously for every penny they are worth see no justification in the indiscriminate disbursement to complicit delegates. That is why a candidate such as the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whose antecedents and suitability for the position of President is not in doubt by any metric for determining suitability, will not even come second to a far older, physically-challenged and not as comparatively astute former Governor of Lagos State.
That is why rather than being given the chance to pick out of the best of the best that Nigeria has to offer for leadership, money-politics has left voters with the worst of the worst in the two major political parties in the country, one of whom is most likely to win.
These all go to show that our system of picking candidates that will be imprinted on the ballots for voters to pick from and place in office is intrinsically flawed. The noble call to service cannot and must not be at the whims and caprices of a select group of individuals, who are as much victims of the weaponisation of poverty as the average Nigerian and who see their delegate status as the once-in-a-lifetime chance of making a financial windfall and will readily jeopardise the fortunes of the entire country for some shekels of silver.
What became abundantly clear from the recently concluded conventions was that we owe it to ourselves, our country and posterity to refuse this kind of self-serving system and evolve a more open, balanced, clean, clear, free and fair system that replaces the selling of votes to the highest bidder by a closed unit of revered delegates, some of whom were too illiterate to write the names of their preferred candidates, with a system that is more inclusive and more focused on ideas, policies, antecedents, experience, character, integrity, physical ability and mental capacity.
I recommend such an open system that will involve a party-wide consultation requiring a candidate wishing to enter politics to meet with constituents and sell their candidature to them. This forum will involve fielding questions, taking suggestions and recommendations and being personally involved with registered party faithful.
At the end of the consultation process, these participating registered party members will all vote, in a primary organised by the party and witnessed by the electoral body in a supervisory role, for the candidate of their choice. The candidate that emerges from this intra-party vote will do so with the assurance of home-based support and the responsibility of being the bearer of the people’s mandate. This is a more wholesome and involved process that will disabuse the system of the rotten stench of ill-gotten wealth, while ensuring that tried and tested candidates, with the right qualities and goals and who are driven to serve emerge through the system. And, we can begin the arduous march towards prosperity and progress as a nation.




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