New Telegraph

Politics: When not to gamble with constituents and next elections

Now that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria are over, talking matter–of–fatly, the candidates who won at the polls as declared by the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have tall and wide responsibilities with obligations to the constituents beyond partisan considerations to avoid compounding image problems for the political parties on which platform they were elected. Any crippling contradictions from the aggrieved candidates and interest groups, partisan factions and fractions, intra oppositions, dissensions and alienation in terms, should be resolved judicially in favour of who actually won, translated to victory to people’s power.

The strength of the elected political leaders lies in the reputation of apolitical representatives, calm, just, kind and utilitarian who have major stake in the survival of Nigeria, defined as a conglomeration of electoral constituencies to placate the constituents who have become more discerning and desperate for good leadership and are wont to get out of the bankruptcy of unprofitable representation. That will ensure the popularity and spread of the newly elected leaders as rare selfless species in noble self-sacrifice and exemplary patriotism, the oases of hope in populist empowerment and emancipation who have the resolve and sagacity to get things done for the constituents.

They know that the welfare of the people is the reason to be in political leadership and are ready to represent the people very well for they are part of the people and are accountable to the people with passionate integrity.

To be otherwise, adhering to self-credo and side-line postures will be a huge negative for the elected leaders to turn to political gamblers who soonest will exhaust all permutations and have nothing to rescue them from imminent electoral disaster at the next recall polls, called general elections all the same, which force them back to their constituents to render stewardship account and have their mandate renewed for another term, if they do so well today.

The Nigerian press has a huge role to play, come May 29, 2023. Press editorials should be agenda setting to inculcate or inject into the nation’s newly elected political leaders, the patriotic use of political power. It is the responsibility of the media to deploy the advantage of being the watchdog of democracy to educate the elected leadership to see past the routine pre-occupation with self-survival in political office. They ought to think of themselves as the next generation of statesmen of the regime of rectitude in political office with commitment to nation building reforms.

It is the nationalistic duty of the press to the newly elected leaders who must be well managed. Only the press reared in integrity, courage, acuity, and walk the tightrope staked in the continued survival of our democracy can hold the political leaders accountable to the people without incitement against the government; but the other press in praise singing, court jesting, and trading in bias or prejudice get summersaulted from distrust and suspicion of the life size support for a section of the political leadership for unmerited favour and partially as they look away from the other section.

Nigerian democracy can no longer be said to be on trial after decades of successful leadership successions on course; rather, it is the politicians who have not professionalised the craft of politics and politicking to get divested of the toga of weird and odd partisanship that make acute enchantment of bad politics ironically attractive to them while practically, quality public interest politics is sacrificed in the process by the day when that ought not to be.

So much laborious effort goes into making the elected political leaders. The aspirants to political offices, made to swallow hook, line and sinker the impression that they would win or their candidacy would count, take on the trouble to have themselves presented to the political parties for consideration for nomination and get registered with INEC as official candidates for elections. Quite a lot more. The constituents, of voting age have to get registered as voters, listen to the candidates at campaigns, line up for hours, almost unending, out there under the sun scorch or water drenching from rain to collect Permanent Voter’s Card and under similar conditions akin to harshness of weather, they cast their votes for choice candidates.

Yet, with impunity, the voters, on the election day are robbed of monetary Welfare Appreciation Allowance (WAPPALL) for breakfast, lunch and transportation back to their respective destinations of kilometres of roads, near and far. The voters, left to no emotional care or monitor were additionally tasked to wait behind and ‘shine, shine’ their eyes on vote counting, the eyes already blurred by politicians’ self-centeredness and false pretences.

From the reports across Nigeria, the dare-devil thieving politicians had good money in several millions of naira handed them by the leaderships of political parties as largesse for transfer to the voters on the election day. Money transfer, a political welfare programme called WAPPALL is a cousin to cashless policy across political parties during the last general elections nationwide. The largesse, privately pocketed by politicians did not get to the voters, and in the aftermath of election results, the sensibility of the leaders and members crisscrossed the defeated political parties ceased to respond well to conversations on the election outcome, going by the social media reports.

The call by a section of the political class, asking for the cancellation of the results of a particular stream of the 2023 general elections, the presidential poll is less than being honest. The elections were not crisis ridden, after all; not ones built on the quicksand of any devastating faults and riddled with any serious socio- political upsets or escalated into fiercely violent disputes that got the body politic polarised or dismembered to cast forlornness, hopelessness on the homogeneity or oneness of our nation. I put my foot down with all rage against the call and I ask, in what name is the call being made if not in the name of the eerie, spooky and bizarre partisanship in consort with some international interference in the internal affairs of Nigerian sovereign state contrary to the ‘United Nations Charter of Non-Interference.’ Or in what name has Bode George angled in the vanguard of the call, and threatened to go on self-exile at Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s imminent inauguration as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, if not for partisan wrangles.

George, having a ring of tragic irony around himself or so it seems, has only acquired the attribute of incomprehensibility, playing at every turn the nasty, naughty and haughty front for the opposition political blitzkrieg. Breaking down all bounds in reasonability, he has always detoured from the immiscible integrity and intellectual profundity of a really elder statesman, not one for honour and unworthy of the privilege accruals to honourable men.

Hurrah! Tinubu, apparently in the glare of damning evidence, replies George, this way – a great challenge to audacity:

“…I, therefore, urge you to shelve all thoughts of self-exile and political retirement. We must not take the battle so personally as to threaten retirement anytime we fail to win. Defeat is as much a part of politics as victory.”

The elected political leaders of the next republic should always make reference to the nation’s constitution whenever there’s a procedural conflict to resolve. Guided constantly by the constitutional provisions, confusion and chaos in the parliament or in the executive – legislature relationships would always be avoided. It is only when the legislature is put in order that moral delivery could be driven into developing public policies.

Sanity should impel the political class to concede defeat and accept the outcome of the elections, and not take certain steps surreptitiously, secretly to frustrate the winners from doing effectively in office. From Oriade state constituency of Osun State, Hon.(Arc) Babatunde Desmond Ojo’s concession to the election outcome that didn’t favour him, barely hours after the poll results were officially released, speaks to the compelling post -election cooperation that should collapse the climax of the complex political confrontation, attacks and counter attacks reached, particularly on the election day and after the election results are announced.

Desmond, too unknown to me, gets my kudos for his witty sportsmanship. And timely. Of course, yes. Unlike many Nigerians of his ranking in politics, he’s said to be polite and suave.

The political dynamics of concession to defeat, marked by the interplay of voice protests in intensity and impact between the political leaders and cadres of the defeated political parties as common in the polity today and after, pose serious challenges to the legitimacy of the political system.

In the circumstances of the challenges, an euphemism for troubles, threatening to overturn the election outcome and long way off, the press editorials as agenda setting ought always to be written in such a way to inoculate the mentality of politicians, winners as well as losers, with the philosophy of clean, non – partisanship politics, effective governance and stupendous development to reflect shared trust, shared integrity, shared discipline, shared accommodation, and shared magnanimity in defeat in order to nib in the bud all tendencies towards frustrating the maturation of development politics and development governance.

A people well developed and put on a development path seek no liberty for there can be no greater liberty than development governance.

Olusesi writes via isaacolusesi@gmail.com

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