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Democracy and Money Politics | The Harmattan News

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Professor Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha

The initiators of democracy in 5th Greece never envisaged a situation in which only the wealthy or super-rich would become representatives of the people, whether in the legislative or executive arm of government. Its original meaning – rule of the people – is quite instructive in this regard. For, it is in the sense that aristocrats would no longer rule over the people that democracy was born. To be sure, aristocrats were the money and propertied people, who dominated the economic and political lives of society, virtually dictating the private and public lives of citizens. It is true that with the passage of time, the nuances and practices of democracy have been redefined and adapted to prevailing circumstances. And so, we have such spurious, fanciful terms and notions as ‘autocratic democracy’, ‘liberal democracy’, ‘consensus democracy’ and ‘supermajority’. Ali Mazrui warned that ‘it is suicidal in any democracy for a majority without economic power to hand over political power to a minority with economic power! Which is the current scenario in Nigeria. And the nation is paying for it.
The last special conventions orchestrated by the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) and Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) in Abuja brought to the fore the power of money at the heart of politics and politicking in Nigeria. There was a time in our history when the political rulers in Nigeria managed to pretend about public morality, pretending to respect the naira, pretended about fighting corruption, pretended about setting the right standards, pretended about inclusive politics, and pretended about their image in the eyes of the people. But that era has gone with the wind of time. In Abuja during the conventions, although the event was beamed for the whole world to see, it was mainly to entertain the people and give the illusion of transparency. Everyone knew that the dirty things had taken place off camera.

READ ALSO: Much ado about Presidential ambitions

In a most blatant and imprudent manner, the future rulers of the country brazenly passed a vote of no confidence on sociopolitical ethics and the value of the naira in relation to the American dollar. Apart from the scandalously high price tag on the Nomination or Expression of Interest Forms, there was a battle by aspirants to pay the highest bribes to the delegates who are charged with producing the flagbearers of the Parties. In this regard, the future ‘rulers’ showed disdain for public opinion and the image of brigands which the conventions flashed or etched in the minds of the hapless citizenry. As usual, there is acquiescence on the part of the people who will vote for or against the envisaged representatives in 2023.
Man’s ingenuity in crafting new political frameworks has been his life and of course his death. Speaking broadly, we could speak of ‘parliamentary democracy’ and ‘presidential democracy’. Ingeniously, man learnt how to elect five or ten persons into a cult-like group who in turn dished out instructions to the common people as a form of democracy. The society also created ‘god fathers’ who pulled the strings behind the scenes and dictated the persons who were qualified to be in parliament or occupy the executive seat of government.
There is a fundamental contradiction between democracy as a form of government and the power of money in the emergence of persons as representatives. Men and women with deep pockets but with little popularity among citizens or a questionable source of wealth have become the major nominees. This goes beyond bellyaching. There is the pervasive narrative that these men will bully their way through the power of money. What is your price tag, the flagbearers seem to ask the country? What can we do, the people seem to say? As for the Peter Obi Movement which is Even in advanced democracies, a poor man cannot really represent the people. Expressed differently, a poor man can only represent the people if he is able to raise funds to finance electioneering. In some jurisdictions, there are legal prescriptions on how to raise such funds.

 

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If democracy as currently practised was very successful, the notion of people power would not have developed. People Power! This is a ‘political term denoting the populist driving force of any social movement which invokes the authority of grassroots opinion and willpower, usually in opposition to that of conventionally organized corporate or political forces. In principle and practice, democracy ought to be about the power of the people to elect their representatives. But it came to be that certain subterranean forces grabbed power and dictated willy-nilly the nature and practice of politics, as we saw in the Arab world which led to the historical Arab Spring in 2010; that led to the END SARS uprising in Nigeria in 2017. People’s power takes over when the people are frustrated with the type of democracy and the personalities/actors who pull the strings of politics in a country. Nigeria has reached that point. What seems to have withheld those forces from taking over is the façade of ethnic and religious diversity in the two big regions that form Nigeria. For those who really know, it is a veneer. The fate of the oppressed, suffering man in the south is the same as that of the ordinary man in the north. The difference is in how they react to state oppression and exploitation in the short run. Ultimately, suffering will unite the northern and the southern youths to take back their country. It is only a question of time.
As the nation prepares for the 2023 general elections, angered by money politics and the politics of official exclusion, the youths have started a movement around Peter Obi. How successful this will be we are no prophets to know. There is anger in the land. Northern youths are angry. Southern youths are angry. Some people in the south believe that the Presidency of the incumbent President has favoured the north more in terms of access to the good life. Nothing can be further from the truth. Things are generally bad in the country. The odious display of money politics in Abuja during the Conventions is a breaking point for us all. Sadly, it happened under the watch of the unsmiling General who campaigned on an anti-corruption mantra. This signals the end of hope that mainstream politics can resolve the deep contradictions of the Nigerian state. So, the big question arises: NIGERIA, WHAT MUST BE DONE TO SAVE US FROM MONEY POLITICS?

Professor Hope O. Eghagha, Department of English, University of Lagos

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

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Reps To Investigate Subsidy Regime From 2017 To 2021

The House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the petroleum products subsidy regime from 2017 to 2021.

The resolution followed a motion by Honourable Sergius Ogun who stated that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre, used by the NNPC in relation to Petroleum Pipeline Marketing Company (PPMC), is underquoted.

The lawmaker described this as fraudulent while also expressing worry that the subsidy regime has been used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion.

The committee is to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.

Wednesday’s move by the lawmaker came on the same day that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mele Kyari ruled out the possibility of a subsidy for diesel.

He made the comments while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Downstream, alongside the CEO of Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, among others.

“In our country today, we do not produce AGO and we regret that our refineries are not working,” he said. “Are we doing anything about it? Yes. I have heard the honourable members lamenting; yes, they (the refineries) are not working.

“This is the truth. I don’t want to bore you with why they are not working, but they are not working; I admit they are not working but we regret it. I will invite this committee at your convenience to join us to see how much work we have done to get them back to work, but they will not come back tomorrow.

“They will not! You cannot start it tomorrow. We regret this; we regret this situation, and we are doing everything possible. As a matter of fact, we have decided to do a quick fix for the Warri refinery. The reason is very simple: we don’t even want to go the long route of doing comprehensive turnaround maintenance because we are concerned.”

 

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

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2023: Presidency Must Return To Southern Nigeria, Fayose Insists

A former governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose has insisted that the southern part of Nigeria must produce the country’s president in 2023.

Fayose, a two-time governor under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said this in a series of tweets on his official handle on Wednesday, pinning his argument on the party’s constitution.

“The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims & objectives by “adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of Party & Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice, and fairness’,” Fayose maintained.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.”

Fayose, who contested the PDP presidential primary, lost out to former Vice President Atiku Abukar in the exercise held earlier this month.

He has been one of the strong advocates for a power shift to southern Nigeria despite the party Atiku from the northern region, as the party’s flagbearer.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who also lost in the exercise, had campaigned, among others, based on a power shift to the south.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), however, is fielding a southerner – Bola Tinubu – as its presidential candidate to honour the power-sharing deal called zoning between the north and south.

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

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Senate confirms Buhari’s ministerial nominees

The senate has confirmed seven persons nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for ministerial positions.

The upper legislative chamber confirmed the nominees on Wednesday after they were screened by the “committee of the whole” chaired by Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The ministers-designate will replace those who resigned to pursue political bids.

Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Godswill Akpabio and Emeka Nwajiuba are some of the ministers who resigned to pursue presidential bids.

The ministers confirmed on Wednesday are Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa Ibom), Ekuma Joseph (Ebonyi), Goodluck Nana Obia (Imo), Umar Ibrahim Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adewole Adegorioye (Ondo), and Odo Udi (Rivers).

During screening, Ikoh said as a way of tackling employment in the country, “technical” graduates can be job creators.

“On the unemployment situation, we need more technical graduates to do most of the things we are doing right now. If you are a technical graduate, you can employ yourself and employ others,” he said.

On his part, Umana said the country could boost its foreign exchange earnings with its free trade zones.

“On the issue of how to boost foreign exchange, I want to say that even the free zones platform is a veritable platform for this,” he said.

“The free zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange.”

Nakama said the federal government must be ready to make some compromise to end the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“On tackling the issue of ASUU, my answer is that there will be leave of compromise. Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise and through this, we will able to solve these incessant strikes once and for all,” he said.

The remaining four nominees were asked to “take a bow and go” on the grounds of their experience.

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