Monetization of Nigerian politics: must the Nigerian messiah require large money to win elections?

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Monetization of Nigerian politics

A flamboyantly dressed lady came among other candidates to be interviewed for a competitive position in a private company. During her private session with the company-owner, the company owner was carried away by her splendour that he lay with her. After being employed, the lady secretly obtained the CCTV feed of the event as insurance, in case the company-owner thinks of sacking her for future misconduct. Was he ready for court cases of harassment, rape, exploitation and negative publicity? You took her not because she was qualified or competent, but because you were carried away by her flamboyance. Just as the company owner’s sexual appetite denies him of good service, monetization of Nigerian politics denies Nigerians of good governance. In the absence of national focus, it appears that many Nigerians seem eager to sell their votes for little gifts.

 

One of the conditions for election into some Nigerian public offices is that the candidate should not have been declared bankrupt.[1] Apart from the official condition, the expenses of Nigerian campaigns make it difficult for candidates to focus on governance. Yet, some political analysts and advocates of monetization of Nigerian politics opine that wealthy people are less disposed to corruption, since they were wealthy before going into politics and no longer need money. These analysts indirectly advocate for more monetization of Nigerian politics by including wealth as a qualification for good leadership.


 

After the death of the wicked King Geoffrey, his grandpa, Tywin Lannister, spoke to the would-be King Tommen about wisdom as the best quality for leadership. King Solomon prayed for wisdom as the most important quality for leading his people. Wisdom has thus, been identified as the most important leadership quality in most kingdoms and communities throughout history. “To be wise is to know the deepest causes in that department of knowledge and conduct in which one is said to be wise.”[2] Hence, wisdom in societal leadership would be the knowledge of the deepest causes in human relationship within the society. Knowing the deepest causes in human relationship begins with knowing human as individual before their relationship with others and environmental resources.

 

Human being is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.[3] He is a rational and social animal who continually seek happiness[4] in the human society. Humans have facticity (unchangeable pasts/facts) and possibilities (creativity),[5] which they develop and utilize in seeking happiness. Hence, they relate with others to develop their potentials for creativity, gainful utility (trade) and happiness in the society. In this social relationship, they choose a leader(s) who directs the modes of collaboration within the society for harmonious creativity and progress.

 

To achieve sufficient development of citizens’ potentials for harmonious creativity and utility, wise leaders possess the following:

  • Existential knowledge: they seek emotional (moral) and intellectual (facts) understanding of the different peoples that make up the society they lead.
  • Vision: they envision the highest possible society befitting to their people according to their potentials and increasing resources. Their visions are often considered to be daring.
  • Communication: they convincingly communicate their great visions to the people, and are open to counsel about their common purpose before making decisions.
  • Ability to educate: they direct the education of their citizens for development, collaboration and proper utilization of (their) resources in producing what they need for sustenance, security and profit.
  • Motivation: they motivate their citizens to continuously develop themselves, even in challenging times.
  • Justice: they devotedly search and establish the truths about their people’s natural rights and social obligations to responsibly negotiate favourable compromises for harmonious creativity.
  • Willpower: they are able to make decisions and resiliently follow it through to the end.
  • Systematization and delegation: they negotiate and create social structures and institutions for ensuring justice, human development and harmonious creativity even after their reigns.

 

It may be better for people with wealthy backgrounds to become leaders in Nigeria because:

  • Most of them have been trained in world’s best and most expensive schools
  • They have connections with other wealthy people of the world, who may help Nigeria
  • They have travelled around the world to see other societies that work better than Nigeria
  • Their vulnerability to corruption could be reduced, since they are already wealthy and exposed
  • King Solomon, Julius Caesar and many other great leaders in history had wealthy backgrounds

 


On the contrary, wealth does not guarantee wisdom, otherwise there will not be rich fools and rich criminals.

  • Nor does education from Ivy League schools guarantee wisdom for leading human beings to harmonious creativity and utility.
  • Also, the question of legitimacy in wealth acquisition is often covered up by the flamboyance of wealth itself.
  • Without wise direction, a gang-up of wealthy people across unequal nations often exposes developing nations to harsh exploitation.
  • The wealthy’s experiences of external beauty in developed nations does not necessarily imply their understanding of the foundational social structure, sacrifices and negotiations that brought the beauty, peace and development in those places.
  • Being wealthy does not quench the desire for acquiring more, otherwise the wealthy will not be acquiring more assets, even government assets. Connection with other wealthy people of the world often becomes a drive for individual competition with other nations’ wealthy people.
  • Some great leaders in history, like king Jaja of Opobo and Barack Obama, do not have wealthy backgrounds.

 

Neither wealth nor poverty guarantees the presence or absence of wisdom for good leadership, as there are rich and poor fools and sages. Wisdom for leadership is often demonstrated by candidate’s ability to negotiate and convincingly communicate his/her visions, methods and willpower. Without wisdom, leadership becomes a way out of poverty for the poor, or entitled position for the wealthy’s business expansion. Lee Kwan Yew noted that a precondition for an honest government is that candidates must not need large sums of money to get elected, or it must trigger off the cycle of corruption. The bane of most countries in Asia has been the high cost of elections.”[6] In his case, “there was no need for the party to replenish its coffers after elections, and between elections there were no gifts for voters.”[7]

 

Thus, societies who wish to grow focus on wisdom, instead of wealth-status of the candidates.

 

What is the level of wisdom in the candidates that have been featuring in Nigerian politics? Some independent candidates and political parties with seemingly wise candidates appear unsuccessful because of the monetization of Nigerian politics. Also, monetization of Nigerian politics exposes the country to foreign manipulation through stringed-supports from rich foreigners. Without evaluation of wisdom in electing public officers, monetization of Nigerian politics will continue to deny Nigerians of good leadership.

[1] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2011 as amended, Section 137, subsection 1, paragraphs vi

[2] Paul J. Glenn, A tour of the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas (Bangalore: theological publications in India, 200) p 215

[3] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/human_being

[4] Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Book 1, Chapter 1, (1094a1-19)

[5] Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (New York: philosophical library inc., 1957), p13.

[6] Lee Kwan Yew, From third world to first (United States of America: Harper Collins, 2000) p 164

[7] Ibid, p.166