By Rotimi Fasan

THE moment the two leading political parties in Nigeria rolled out a list of payments that aspirants to public office must make to use its platform, it was clear to Nigerians that neither ideology, character nor principles will determine the direction of the 2023 general elections.

The governing All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chose to walk the same path when they demanded hundreds of millions of naira for presidential aspirants, among other prospective office holders, standing for election on their platforms. For the APC that is topping the PDP in many of the excesses that stood it out when it steered the ship of the Nigerian state, it was either a presidential aspirant was ready to pay the princely sum of N100 million or he/she could forget about standing to be president under the APC logo. For the PDP, it was a mere N45 million when compared with the APC.

The huge sums placed on the purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms, as these two so-called political parties chose to call their respective bazaar to raise funds for the next round of elections, were of a kind as the amount being demanded by the bandit cells that populate most of the North-West and North-East states of the country. The principles are the same and the ideologies are no less alike. Make no mistakes about it: Nigeria today has been taken captive by brigand politicians whose sole aspiration is to prepare the ground for the final bleeding of the nation-being its treasury and commonwealth as nobody but a political investor misnamed a politician can fork out so much just as an expression of interest in a public office.

It should not be surprising that both the APC and PDP went the exclusivist way that is sure to restrict the latitude of political practice, limiting it only to those able to afford it in naira, dollars and pounds and not genuine representatives of the people. Most of those in the two parties were spawned from the same political loins and are inheritors of the same ancestral disease. They have crossed and criss-crossed the aisles of their respective boundaries and now break bread and share drinks from the same broth. The same fate awaits them as Nigerians come to the realisation that as presently constituted, neither of the two parties can or will lead them to the future of their dream.

These are conclaves of political careerists that were designed to project personal ambitions and self-love as national interest. The larger Nigerian population of voting and non-voting publics are the victims of this electoral scam.

This much has been confirmed by the manner the two parties have conducted their primaries even as the APC is still looking for the best heist to execute on Nigerians, first in the APC and later in the country at large, as it casts around for the magic formula to conjure its presidential candidate in the unfolding tragedy yet playing out as comic relief. The PDP has crossed that hurdle choosing a presidential candidate with the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and serial presidential aspirant/candidate, that defied the unwritten convention of zoning or rotating political offices between the country’s regions.

In an empty show of ‘force’, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, made their way to the PDP primaries, apparently looking for the cash boxes that would as likely as not accompany the politicians, aspirants and delegates alike, to the venue. Only amateur sleuths would expect to achieve anything serious and dissuade money politics in that manner. It’s a very unprofessional way for the EFCC to operate, proclaiming its presence in the loud manner it did.

Any neophyte follower of Nigerian politics, especially in the wake of the all-comers money men affair that the nomination process of the APC and PDP were turned into, would know that money was bound to drive the primaries. But the EFCC went there in a botched effort to see the Ghana-must-go bags. It deceives itself and not Nigerians if it thought money played no part in the emergence and loss of the aspirants.

Many of the aspirants, the losers, are presently licking their wounds as they shamelessly demand the refund of the ill-gotten money they funnelled through party leaders to induce delegates to vote in their favour. There is the case of the senator in Ondo State who asked party leaders in his constituency to return a vehicle he had earlier gifted them following his loss at the primaries. How about the political bigwig who, it is alleged, threatened to forward the names of those who accepted his gifts of money but failed to deliver on their promise to vote for him to bandits? Does anyone still doubt the connection between the politicians and their kinsmen and former foot soldiers turned bandits, now raping, kidnapping and killing across the country?

Who is yet to see the videos assaulting our humanity of the atrocity politicians committed just in the few days of the primaries? Of lives snuffed out at high noon – from the South-East to the South-West, South-South to the North-Central; the North-West to North-East? Who are the late arrivals to the country that did not see the video of an aspirant politician who shared out, as parcelled gifts, N2 million to local party leaders in a state in the North of the country? If so much could be expended on delegates to the primaries, how much can we expect to see spent during the elections?

Yet EFCC operatives stormed the venue of the PDP primaries in vests emblazoned with their names in hopes of apprehending politicians whose lingua franca is money? The foolishness of the anti-crime body beggars belief for right under the nose of its gallivanting operatives before, during and after the primaries, money was shared and distributed to those it was meant for. The EFCC may need to confirm from its operatives if none of them was granted the courtesy of going home with a slice of the cake.

And this is just a small tip of the political iceberg that is waiting for Nigerians as the 2023 elections come closer. The stakes are getting higher and the costs ever more prohibitive. The rhetoric is empty and bereft of substance. The programmes, so-called, are a litany of juvenile rants as in the case of the dancing senator whose only words to his potential supporters is to demand in what foreign currency they wish to be compensated. One does not need a statistician to have a sense of what went into the party primaries in monetary terms. We are on the cusp of selling the next election to the highest bidders.  

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