By Kayode Crown
It is harvest time for political parties in Nigeria. If you are ambitious and want to vie for one position or the other, as it is now, you may have to cough out millions of Naira.
INEC has said that it cannot interfere in the internal workings of the political parties so it should not be expected to do anything about the neck breaking price tag that political parties are putting on the different positions in their party.
The aspirants have nowhere to run but the court, to save them from the humongous weight of the nomination fees.
The high fee is to me, a clear case of deprivation of freedom of association. That may sound far-fetched, but if you try to reason along, you might realise that it may not be as “far to be fetched” as you might have initially thought.
Based on the constitutionally guaranteed right of association, someone may want to be associated with, be in the league of those who chose to execute their right to present themselves to be voted into offices.
But based on the present state of affairs, it is clear that political parties are going against the spirit of your constitutionally guaranteed right, setting the financial bar against people’s political aspiration so high that it has ensured that the majority of Nigerians are disenfranchised regardless of good intention or ability.
As it is, apart from the constitutional requirement of age and educational background, the parties have added an extra-constitutional barrier that individuals need to cross to achieve their legitimate desires. It seems that they have chosen to define the measure of a man by naira and kobo.
The pricing of nomination forms is dehumanising to say the least. It’s like you are not worthy to be a Nigerian (an average Nigerian is qualified to stand for election) if you are not loaded and dripping with cash.
If you also juxtapose that with the fact that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world, with the greatest number of people living below the poverty line, then the evil of the humongous nomination form becomes starker.
So if you have kept yourself clean all your life, did your work well, are highly recommended by everyone in your community, though the constitution guarantees that you can vie for any high office that you want, the political parties say no.
They, therefore, set themselves at cross purposes with the constitution and something has to give, and it won’t be the constitution.
That is the state of inherent contradiction that has been allowed to fester for long because of the ulterior motive of some.
This is partly because of the need to keep the majority of the people pliable, subservient and unable to raise their voice, but agree with the so-called elite who see it as their birthright to be the dominant ones in the political sphere, dictating how things should be from time immemorial.
According to a quote attributed to Malam Aminu Kano: Nigeria will know no peace until the son of nobody, becomes somebody without knowing anybody.
That day is still far away as the political parties have banded together to continue the suppression of the common man like you and me.
And that, to me, is a tacit nod to corruption by the political parties.
Some have been saying that they do not have the money to pay for the forms, and friends rally round and bought it for them. Concerning the “friends”; were they being altruistic or only positioning themselves to curry the favour of the one they bought the form from? The latter seems to be the more probable reason.
So you have the list of “friends” who have, more or less, “bought” themselves the front roll seats when it comes to government largesse in the case of the eventual electoral victory of their “friends.”
And the democracy which has been defined as the government of the people for the people and by the people, has been Nigerianised to mean the government of the few, by the few, for the few.
And in more specific terms, it is the government of the money bags, by the money bags for the money bags, so that the money in the “bag” can increase. That is the truth, except we want to deceive ourselves.
The parties are indirectly telling you that you should, one way or the other, have stolen some funds. If not, why is the cost of the nomination form so high, where do they expect people to get it?
It seems to me that the high cost of nomination forms is meant to be a double-edged sword.
One, it is to perpetuate the slavery of the people in the grip of the money-oiled machinery of the cabals who rotate and perpetuate themselves in offices, seeing it as their birthright and the oppressed people with no choice but to line up behind them, in exchange for pittance in the form of money for votes or other trickling of the crumbs from the table of those who regard them as the political class, who have made themselves rich by manipulating state power to make themselves rich.
The other side of the sword is what I started this piece with, using the word, “harvest”.
The political parties want to get for themselves part of the funds they expect that people have stolen.
Or do you expect that a businessperson who had struggled to build his business towards leaving a legacy for his children can release that humongous amount being asked for the nomination forms by the parties?
Is the money not going to come from shady sources?
I started by saying that INEC has said it is handicapped in this matter, but the court can speak on it.
Actually, a presidential aspirant, Mr Christmas Okpodiete, has approached the court.
He wants the court to peg the nomination form for N18,000 being the nationally approved minimum wage.
That is the way he sees it and he is attempting to convince a Federal High Court before whom he has brought the case to agree with him.
This might compel the political parties to start becoming creative when it comes getting funds to run the party.
For example, in the UK, in a recently released data, the percentage of money contributed to the Conservative Party was mostly from dead people.
That may surprise you. But that is the case, as people, before they died, made certain provision from their estate to donate money to that party which they believe in.
That may not be what the party would be happy about as it shows that the dead are happier with the party than the living, but at least they did not squeeze the life out of the aspiring candidates in the name of nomination forms.
And that is a democracy that we are copying. But ours have been hijacked by no-do-gooder money-bags.
Or what are the political parties communicating with their body language to the politicians by such high nomination forms? Is it not that when they get to such positions, they should go ahead and steal to recoup?
So the political parties become another paragraph in the corruption odyssey of the country. So sad.