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Re: Politics – Selective amnesia

By Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor

Just what can an individual do to a politician you’ve helped to vote into power, who neglects to keep his campaign promises?  That was the question on the lips of most of our readers who reacted to the subject.  It’s a helpless situation we find ourselves in as you can’t force the person to keep those promises.

“Madam Helen, we must call a spade a spade and realise that the average Nigerian politician will never feel obliged to keep his election promises. This is because politicians are not isolated people in the country, but part of the rest of us, and you cannot honestly say that the majority of the citizens of this country are honourable people who render the services they promised to render.

Until we overhaul and re-mould the Nigerian, don’t expect our politicians to keep their promises.  As a people, we need to be thoroughly cleansed of  manipulations, dishonesty, cheating and thievery.  Then, and only then, will there emerge trustworthy politicians who are people of honour.  Thanks, madam. – Greg.”

“Helen, that your article on politicians and their elections promises was timely.  One of the problems with us is that Nigerians have very short memories.  Isn’t it amazing that politicians who performed very badly during their first term are voted back to continue to waste our time and pocket public money?  You would have thought ‘never again’ after they failed the first term, but no, we readily bring them to power again, and the second term is usually worse than the first one.

We’re always ready to mortgage our conscience for few bags of rice.  We need a messiah who will show us the way out of these recurring bad performances by those voted into power.”

“I agree with your friend, Helen, that we shouldn’t expect much from those we vote into power in this country, but should we all stop registering to vote because of that?  No.  We should continue to point out with good evidence, via the media, that such and such people/political parties are not performing. When political parties are indicted along with their elected party members with bad performance, they will take more care in the selection of who to put forward for election the next time.

What we see all the time is imposition of candidates, regardless of the person’s track record in serving the public.  When the political parties know that we won’t vote for such and such a person, and with good reason, they will back down. With this practice, we would gradually know which political parties have performing members. Nigerians should stop groping in the dark.”

“Madam, first of all, let me commend most of our national  newspapers for sensitising us on what to do with our votes. Never before has there been such keen awareness of the power of our citizens’ votes. Thanks to the President who copied President Obama, we now experienced the door-to-door campaigns in some of our cities.

It was exciting seeing some big political names knock on one’s door to solicit for votes. Pity, there wasn’t time to ask some relevant questions; still, this is a start in getting close to the people, and acknowledging their power. The next step will be enforced accountability as we watch to see if  these politicians will keep their election promises.  We should be patient. We’re certainly moving forward, in my opinion.  Thanks.  Pa Udo,  Abuja.”

“Madam Ovbiagele, until we enact a law which empowers the constituents to recall a non-performing member of Assembly/Parliament, Governor, etc, we will never have true accountability.  Impeachment is a useful tool in removing non-performers, but past events have shown that this has been used maliciously and irresponsibly.

It was mainly used whenever the leader wasn’t allowing members of the house/parliament to line their pocket unashamedly with public money.  Maybe  this has to do with the calibre of people who are voted to represent us in parliament.  Many are like hungry wolves who are there mainly to amass as much  money as they can lay their greedy hands upon.

That’s why winning is a matter of life and death for many of them.  Just look at the mayhem which led to the wanton loss of lives and property in the on-going elections.  Why the violence?  Can’t we tolerate losing? Must we kill members of rival parties?  When we have a proper law which enables constituents to recall elected members, I’m sure politics in this country will become cleaner.”

“My stand is that we should weed out the misfits among those seeking to be elected by reducing the allowances and salaries across board, of the president,  governors, parliament/assembly members, , etc.  Right now, it’s a lucrative source of income for those in politics and that’s why getting elected is often a violent and desperate thing.

Let’s not deceive ourselves, many of them are in politics for money and for power.   What you said, madam, about many of those in power spending the first half of their tenure vilifying their predecessors, and then using the second half in planning their return, is true.  Some governors who have done two terms, now plot to get into the Senate.  That means they neglect their duties as head of a state towards the end of their term, so that they would have the time to campaign to be elected into the Senate.

And, no voice is raised against any of them!  No accountability!  There should be a law that after serving  as a governor, there should be a cooling off period of at least five years before they seek another elective position.  When their salaries, allowances, etc. are heavily slashed, getting elected will become less attractive, and only those who really have good plans for the country would want to be involved in governance.

Thank you, madam.  Bally, Port Harcourt.
We thank all those who sent in their views and regret that we couldn’t publish all, due to lack of space.


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