Until now, many had thought that the selling of votes is the vocation of illiterate Nigerian masses who don’t know better. Delegates to the recently conducted, and ongoing primaries have put a lie to this. With the recently amended Electoral Act which removed statutory delegates, only the college of elected delegates matters in the primaries and to aspirants. These delegates consist of three party members from each of the 774 LGAs with each state and the FCT presenting a representative of persons living with disabilities. This followed the enactment of the Electoral Act.
The Electoral Act 2022 drastically cut down on the number of delegates to elect party candidates for various offices by taking out the statutory delegates. In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), only about 811 delegates are needed to elect the presidential candidate while in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the number is about 2,320 delegates. Given this arrangement and their superdelegates’ status, it’s expected that these party chieftains will be a self-respecting bunch patriotic enough to uphold the enlightened self-interest of citizens. It, therefore, beggars belief that they will act in the same manner or be worse than very poor and ignorant masses who sell their votes for as little as a thousand naira. Unfortunately, whereas these sell their future, compromised delegates sell their country. That’s to show how egregious their sellout is. These are people who should present to the Nigerian electorate candidates with vision, intellect, charisma, and character to stir the ship of state in the right direction.
This will be the first time under this Republic which commenced in 1999 that all the ‘statutory delegates’ comprising public officials (from the president to governor to council chairmen as well as federal and state lawmakers and political appointees) will be watching their party primaries on television. Naija News, therefore, expected rectitude, patriotism, and integrity from those privileged enough to provide Nigerians with options to choose from in the next general election. While the received wisdom is that the aspirants are the ones inducing the delegates with dollars, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu recently spoke up where he disclosed that it was the other way round! Speaking about the development, the ruling party boss said, “for now, there is no law against aspirants taking the campaign to delegates. I don’t have evidence that aspirants are sharing money to delegates. To me, it’s the delegates that are selling their conscience, which is not proper.
“Our delegates should know that anybody sharing money to them can’t be the right candidate for the party. He doesn’t mean well for the country. I don’t have a solution for the problem,” added the APC National Chairman. Naija News does not agree that he lacks powers to correct the unconscionable corruption of the electoral process of the country. What happened to the humongous influence he wields as party chairman, who until he got to that exalted office was a ranking senator and a former governor?
Critical stakeholders must not allow this scotch-earth subversion of democracy. Never in the history of Nigeria has party primaries become such a mercantile affair. So bad is the situation that politicians unabashedly require restitution from induced delegates who failed to live up to their own end of the bargain. The son of a former vice president made headlines for demanding a refund from delegates he accused of not voting for him after each of them collected N2million from him in his bid for a House of Reps ticket. That he got only two votes for all his troubles shows that he was outspent by his rivals.
It was also in the news that Ondo Central Senator, Ayo Akinyelure, retrieved the vehicles given to Chief Segun Adegoke, a member of PDP Board of Trustees and that of Mr Wole Akindiose, a former PDP Chairman in Ondo East and National delegate to the forthcoming convention of the party. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the primary won by Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) despite the money and vehicles purportedly doled out, the Chairman of the Senate’s Ethics Committee reportedly demanded his vehicles back from the leaders.
Former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani shared the story of a House of Reps aspirant who went about Kaduna with hunters and vigilante members to collect a refund of the money he paid to delegates before the primary and has so far collected N100 million after losing the party’s primary election in his constituency. Sani himself, who opted not to financially induce the delegates, got only two votes in the PDP governorship primaries in Kaduna State. This regrettably is a testament to what determined the voting pattern of the delegates.
Ahead of this weekend’s presidential primaries where the stakes are way higher, a national daily reported today that delegates to the national convention of the two major parties have already raked in N124bn from sundry presidential aspirants. So widespread was the malpractice that former President Goodluck Jonathan would say, “these whole primaries going on across the country is a mess. This is not a standard practice. We cannot use the process to elect the president, governors, senators, and House of Representatives members, and others. The process is already failed, which is not good for the country. We pray that good people should come. I hope that what happened this year, 2022 will not happen again in this country.”
This newspaper regrets that the sterling standard set by the citizen who rejected N5,000 cash-for-vote bribe during the last governorship election in Anambra state meant nothing to these greedy delegates. If Eunice Ngozi Onuegbusi, an ordinary citizen from Ukwulu in Dunukofia local government area of Anambra state, can be upright enough to refuse to sell her conscience for N5,000, more is definitely expected of party bigwigs elected to represent particular demographics in a primary election.
Having collected the politicians’ Greek gifts, what right do compromise delegates have to demand good governance and accountability from these persons if they eventually make it to public offices? After forcing the hands of Nigerians to vote for moneybags who will be quick to recoup their “investments” upon gaining power, the delegates must ask themselves how the country can make progress.
Naija News demands that Nigerians be patriotic and stop raping the country at the slightest opportunity. Since some persons cannot help but put pecuniary interest over the country, the anti-graft agencies must step in to ensure that this highly deleterious practice is not allowed to continue. Just as we condemned the princely sums for which the APC nomination and expression of interest forms were sold, the monetization of Nigeria’s political process remains an ill-wind that blows nobody any good. To this extent, we agree with the APC Chairman that aspirants who are inducing delegates do not mean well for Nigeria.
As such, the EFCC and ICPC have their work clearly cut out for them and must get cracking. They can start by going after the failed aspirants who are openly asking delegates to return objects of inducement given to them prior to the primaries. Owing to this growing malaise in Nigeria’s political process, Naija News is calling for an enabling law for independent candidates to stand for elections. That way, decent and credible Nigerians can offer to serve in public offices without being compromised or exploited by filthy lucre-loving party delegates. This is more so as the amount of money needed to buy the conscience of these greedy delegates can defray general election expenditures