Electioneering as Incubator to High Cost of Governance

No form of government can be considered cheap to operate wherever and so long as corruption thrives in the polity. therefore, the expensive nature of the Presidential system of government Nigeria adopted in the Second Republic after experimenting with the Parliamentary system in the First, does not justify why government and governance is expensive However, apart from the many loopholes and various drainpipes that corrupt and wicked operators of government and their foot soldiers might have created with intent to ambush funds, single handedly or conspiratorially, election and electioneering constitutes another veritable incubator for hiking the cost of government and governance. Whereas one of the roles of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the monitoring of how campaign funds are sourced or raised and spent, the electoral umpire’s lack of capacity or unwillingness to carry out that mandate, compounds the fight against corruption and related abuses.

In the face of the observed failure or lacuna, funds meant for executing projects for that would have enhanced the lives of the citizenry or moneys traceable to illegal sources such as gun-running, drug and similar criminal syndicates, including foreign or mercenary collaboration, are deployed to undo rival candidates and/or good causes. Such loot and accruals, often laundered of the Nigerian financial systems or mostly converted into hard foreign currencies, are often stashed away in unusual containers in private farms, garages, store rooms, water tanks and toilet rooms. Fear of Treasury Single Account (TSA), you would say. As would be expected, because one successful deal leads to another and since backs must be rubbed, the benefactors most often lie low and wait for the slightest opportunity to recover their questionable investment in quantum and in excess through similar illegal, covert and dirty means. this puts a wedge to the implementation or completion of major public infrastructure and various development projects, thus constituting a huge cost to the state and nation.

Even when discoveries are made or suspicions are rife, probing becomes a much bigger issue which could eventually gulp huge state funds or the allegations are simply swept under the  carpet. Ahead of every general election, unclassified sub-heads emerge as questionable funds are pumped into the system to foster both good and bad causes which produce a mixture of fortunes for politicians of all hues and cry. A President, several State Governors and hundreds of legislator at the state and national levels seeking second term or additional tenures or fresh higher mandates, (for the parliamentarians) or seeking to support favored candidates in their steads or as contemporaries, take advantage of their incumbency to dip into the “improbable” security vote or whole constituency projects or partially saved of such funds (after empowering a handful of their constituents). With these invaluable sources, all sorts of patronage, contracts and consultancies to facilitate a successful electioneering and elections are doled out. this could extend to post-poll largess depending on the level of success attained or appreciation the principals and their core aides intend to express.

All these constitute costs to government and governance. During periods like this, we observe exodus of people across the country, states, LGA, council wards, cities, towns, villages and constituencies, polling units and collation centers within a short time span to campaign or vote for (a) particular candidate(s). Year 2015 witnessed the most rampant when antiex- President Goodluck Jonathan Northern elements literally imported their indigenes and adherents from their places of residency, work, business and/or school all over Nigeria to return home to vote and help their own to realise his ambition of transforming from General (retired) to President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).

In the past, movements like these frequently happened across the borders especially at the nation’s Northern Tanks where illegal immigrants from Niger, Chad and Sudan reportedly crossed to vote for those they considered their Nigerian brothers or blood relatives. Not surprising that the Jonathan presidency tried to curtail this aberration and he met his nemesis in the conspiracy of his own party men that ousted him. So why is ‘crowd renting’ during electioneering sounding like a new entry into the nation’s political lexicon? the coinage has been there and still is with all the big political parties, irrespective of their support base or the followership they seem to enjoy, engage in renting crowds. Many participants at rallies would hardly attend them if they were not sponsored or ferried from their bases. In fact, some of those attending do so just to survive on patronage and may not be valid voters or may be without Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) or even the temporary ones and may end up not voting.

Many are involved only because they are angling for political positions rather than to catch votes for their political idols or principals. that is why the size of crowds may not be an indicator of potential success at the polls. Yet, the cost of feeding and transporting both the campaign organizers, and “As leaders, it is their duty consultation with, us the led, guidebooks, to find a way around escalating poll-and-governance phenomenon to save the ship from wrecking.” the “boys and girls”, and sharing pocket money to them remains a waste of resources that the candidate would desire to recoup once he assumes the position or returns to power. About anytime a set of elections was held throughout the country or in a state of the federation, man hours and huge resources are lost to avoidable embargoes and restrictions as well as over-mobilization of security forces and various agencies as if these (polls) constituted an emergency.

While it is understandable for those involved in polling duties to be tied down the specific task, what can one say of those whose only duty is to exercise their franchise – cast their all-important vote? the real value of elections is the power to do the needful by enthroning the desirable and undoing the undesirable a la “when the righteous rule, the people rejoice…” However, here lies the greatest damage/ danger of being apathetic or failing to carry out one’s civic duty either because of frustration of being shut out, impatience due to long hours of accreditation, not having faith in the process or not caring a hoot who participates or emerges or not therefrom. Personal or societal indiscipline, lack of patriotism or religious bigotry could only be the reasons for refusal by citizens to exercise their rights. To every aspect of the malaise, there is a cost attached – to the individual citizen, citizenry and the state/ nation. Logistics is another huge consumer of other resources and accumulator of debts and deaths (waste of lives) during electioneering and elections.

Convoys and vehicular escorts of workers in essential electoral duties and party agents, as well as conveyors of sensitive and other election materials are common features of polling duties and movements. Chauffeur/self-driven vehicles of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and those drawn from the pools of these establishments are normally deployed to related duties but in spite of the huge resources often released to fuel, repair, service and maintain these indispensable instruments of mobility, the wear-and-tear of many years does not normally equate the damage often inflicted on them during the polls period. Occasionally, the moving engines and machines get involved in avoidable accidents because of over-speeding or caught up in dastardly ambushes by hired thugs, supporters or sympathizers of opposing factions, parties or candidates resulting in mayhem, death or grievous
injuries though the electoral umpire and governments of the day enjoin the citizens generally to eschew violence and other unpatriotic acts, it is unfortunate that hired thugs and cult groups have capitalized or relied on the suspicions, scorn, hard drug abuse, emotional outbursts and violent clashes heading to or arising from electoral disputes in the field and collation centers to cause psychological traumas and other health hazards.

As with violence prior to, during and after polling, celebration of electoral victories is sometimes also known to come with some cost to the nation. the mass destruction of billboards and tearing of posters which some pro- Buhari fans had inflicted on ex-President Jonathan’s campaign in Bauchi State and a few other Northern Nigeria towns surfaced in Cross River as an unsavoury trend which has gone beyond the misdemeanor of miscreants to an interparty face-off between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All-Progressives  Congress (APC). Campaign materials come with a cost and ought to be allowed
to serve their purpose of advertising the parties, candidates and their programs.

All sorts of malpractices amidst cheating, betrayals, double-crossing, extortion and short-changing are
dishonest behaviors that nurture poverty among people, dog-eat-dog syndrome, corruption and
under-development indices. the false presences, fast guy, smart dude psyche/mentality of latter generation are costing the nation much in the Human development index such that even where there is work to do, many youths are jettisoning the burning the midnight oil preferring the short cut to
wealth and fame. the conspiracies of the parties in charging outrageous intent and nomination fees hardly accounted for by the same party leaders the short-changed aspirants and candidates regard as
crooks. To skin aspirants or contestants for various public offices of more cash, party officials threaten the former with a gale of disqualification and tantalize them with re-qualification. the same chieftains almost always have their way holding the successful candidates/new set of leaders to ransom for supposedly festering their ambitions. this victimization has thrown up a situation where former victims have turned round to prey on fellow party members as seen in both major the parties – PDP and APC. Some have learnt to be hijackers of resources dropped by the high-hill candidates relying on them as former aspirants to deliver to a cross section of party members through various support groups.

They have rather ripped of both the big-spending candidates including their opponents who defeated
them in the primaries and denied some of the support groups of any form of material support as if out to avenge their defeats. Yet, if by any stroke of luck those they have ripped off turn out winners and form an emerging government they would hold them to ransom in their misplaced desire to be settled for the key roles they pretend to have played in securing the electoral victory(ies) akin to what some politicians term as “servicing of loyalty”. At the end of the day, electoral tasks are but herculean as the victories are expensive or at times Pyrrhic!  is is because in the field, as level or circumventing as it may be, contenders, pretenders, reputation or attention seekers and vote (PVC) traders (sellers and buyers), jokers and political comedians/clowns abound. Imagine the new craze about fielding presidential and governorship candidates but ending up throwing in the towel only to ironically float their paper weight behind an incumbent or more solid colleague! Others resort to brow-beating by seeking party tickets from the courts of law in the guise of being the authentic “owners” of the party whereas the space is said to be wide enough to accommodate as many would desire. If not, why not found one anew?

Just when you thought the elections had been won and lost and the victors sworn in or inaugurated and
assumed/resumed duties, you would discover “you aint seen nothing yet!” the election tribunals are
a certainty for the losers to try their luck. Here, in spite of glaring evidences or the lack of any regarding the peaceful, free, fair and credible conduct of the polls or otherwise, the electoral process is subjected to ridiculous inconsistencies while the comics, comedy of errors and tragi-comedy come to play! At the end of the day, tax payers lose in millions and billions, much of the funds they thought they had tried to saved voting the right man woman for the job while some hapless litigants are drained of their hard-earned cash pursuing delayed and denied justice.

Howbeit, as in life generally where the kingdoms of light and darkness, to wit, good and evil contest to undo or outdo each other, high electioneering and election cost under our stage of development, appears both unavoidable and a necessity. Many who are accumulating their ostentatious living further feather their nests while others are battling for a living to survive the strait economy. Consultants of different shades, transporters, printers, food vendors and other traders and their agents or other middle men and women who offer various goods and services, whether genuine or qualitative and even their fake or poor versions, take something out of the system irrespective of who they offer to or who uses these goods and services.

So one way or the other, you and I, politician, political office holder or their aides or agents as well as the white or blue collar worker, traditional ruler, community or opinion leader, even the innocent commoners, are beneficiaries of this preliminary huge cost. However, the leaders and those who seek our mandate instigate it thus incubating the resultant government and governance cost. therefore, as leaders, it is their duty in consultation with, us the led, and the guidebooks, to find a way around the escalating poll-and-governance cost phenomenon to save the ship of state from wrecking.

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