“Genuine change agents are scared away from politics due to the ‘cashualisation’ of vote which ensures that people have no tomorrow.”
The July 14 gubernatorial election conducted in Ekiti state which produced Dr Kayode Fayemi as the Governor-elect has affirmed the precarious state of affairs in Nigeria. The behavioural manifestations of political actors connected to the election indicated why the policies of both Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress have not lifted the masses out of the dungeon they have been deliberately plunged into. While the Muhammadu Buhari government may dispute the data which indicated that more than half of the Nigerian populace live below poverty, the commodification of voting and the dynamics introduced— prepaid and post-paid strategies underscore the fact that politicians need the people to be poor in order to continue to feast on their vulnerability. But wait a minute, was the APC fulfilling its campaign promise of paying N5,000 naira to the poor during the polls? This is the significance of the insignificant.
Ekiti became a market space for bargaining, with location determining the amount that your vote is worth. The price per vote ranged from 3,000 to as much as 20,000 thousand naira. The significance of this is that the two troublesome parties who bought votes are the same who ensured that people remained pauperised so that their vulnerability will be significant for their victory at election time. By so doing poverty becomes an entrapment for the soul of the weak.
Who are those scampering for N3000, N5,000 and above? Women, unemployed youths, and civil servants are vulnerable people whose needs need to be targeted by a sensitive, responsive and responsible government to prevent future insecurities. These Ekiti ‘Essau’ who sold their future for today may lack the blessing of good living owing to the trade-off. But they remain significant pointers to the failure of governance that neglects a ticking time bomb.
Money played a significant role and people displayed the culture of poverty because they were not sure of tomorrow. They went for a bird in hand that is better than thousands in the bush. They are desperate to suffer for the next four years because those who spent to mount the ‘pulpit’ will recoup their investment first before considering those who already benefited before the government is sworn in. Why would Fayemi pray that these people be free from the shackles of poverty if he rode on that vulnerability to remount the rostrum of His Excellency? It is significant that in the state of knowledge people lack wisdom.
Despite the deployment of 30,000 security agents to the state, I am not aware the police was effective in arresting anyone giving or taking money to vote even though it happened in public spaces. Intelligence did not work here neither did tip-off work for the police. They pretended as if nothing happened. Or was it that they also got prepaid too going by what hapless Nigerians encounter everyday in the hands of the police? The significance of the security not doing their job is why many crimes go untamed due to the adoption of pre-paid and post-paid strategies. Who will then enforce the law against inducement or is it only a crime when the interest of the Aso rock is threatened?
Ayodele Fayose, the two-term governor of Ekiti state suffered the bitter pill of the significance of the insignificant. First, Fayose is one-man army and a dogged fighter. He remains a deviant character and seemingly a lone voice of opposition in the Nigerian political landscape. This is significant for he has exposed and kept the government in check. However, the ‘insignificant’ people he allowed to defect to the APC became significant add-up to the Fayemi camp. Never in life will a man survive in isolation of others. In politics you need to annex the political capital of associates. Sometimes a fly can cause a plane crash. The political re-alignment of the ‘insignificant’ defectors from the PDP became significant game changers for APC and Fayemi.
Is it not significant how instrumentalities of state are being used against the hapless? Irrespective of their political parties, the ruling class are united against the masses in their thoughts and actions. They are empowered by the hapless; but they under-develop the people. If Lai Mohammed could describe commodified victory as an endorsement of the Buhari administration, then Nigerians need a rethink ahead of 2019 particularly those in possession of the most valuable item—PVC. The PVC that was insignificant to people became article of trade, significant enough to earn N20,000 per vote, about N2,000 higher than the national minimum wage.
The significance of the Ekiti polls is that it exposes those who offer themselves to govern as wicked and insincere cohorts. Irrespective of political parties, they are the same. From ‘Peter the rock’ late crediting of civil servants and pensioners accounts to the superior ‘vote mining’ strategy of the Broom party. These characters do nothing to alleviate precarious circumstances but delayed gratification to the time of election and begin distribution of rice, money, kerosene, clothing, among others. It is needless for a serious government, state or national to commission a research into what to focus on as policy.
The Ekiti poll has validated the nexus between poverty as a deliberate political strategy and electoral victory. Poverty is a slave camp and the slaves only own their existence to the whims and caprices of the slave masters. The slave master will not like the condition which makes people become slave to change to fester their hegemonic control. This is why only skills and empowerment training have the potentiality to take people out of poverty and give them the agency of independence. The significance of having the vulnerable poor to vote is the birthing of irresponsible government; a disconnected leader from the realities of the ruled; it gives birth to the government enthroned by the poor for the rich. Also, the genuine change agents are scared away from politics due to the ‘cashualisation’ of vote which ensures that people have no tomorrow.
Let those who have PVC place the right value on their present and future and determine whether it is better to enthrone the right person who will ensure a bright future or trade PVC for pittance and pale into insignificance for four years. Unless this is done, the mockery of voters by the political merchants will ensure that stomach infrastructure continue to condition voting behaviour of Nigerians and 2019 in particular.