19th March, 2013
By Oluwole Sholanke
It is a general perception that politicians are corrupt and that they use political parties to loot the nation’s treasury. It is lamentable that this kind of situation is having negative impact on the nation’s economy. The so-called representatives of the masses that were voted for by the masses to cater for their needs could not do so but care for themselves and their political godfathers with only the crumbs reaching the people where possible.
You may ask: who are the political godfathers or the cabal? They are the unseen elements that helped the representatives rig elections and win. Another big challenge is that parastatals of government are headed majorly by politicians whose parties are ruling at a given time rather the use of technocrats to meet the desires of the country. In some situations, government agencies are dominated by politicians from the same political party that won the election without considering their experience. At times, you will discover that it is a case of square pegs in round holes!
It is on rare occasions that you see opposition parties being nominated into the cabinet at the federal and state levels. This system does not exclude the national and state assemblies. All ministers, commissioners, directors-general etc are selected on party basis. With this, all government activities including the economy are subjected to the dictates of politicians of the same political party.
The electorate are made to believe that they are the appointers of those to be selected from the constituency, e.g. senatorial districts. Each of those people being selected for election may have been subjected to scrutiny by the ruling political party or the cabal. Indeed, the cabal is the most powerful, inevitable but invisible third house before the House of Representatives, without whose authority or approval, nothing can be done by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
To hit the nail on the head, the House of Representatives, whilst appearing to represent the people and to do what the electorate want, dare not do anything for the electorate without the approval of the cabal, hence, the double allegiance to the political party, the platform they used to campaign and the unseen cabal that controls both house remotely.
All these have contributed to the dwindling impact of democracy dividends and the nation’s economy.
It must be mentioned here that the cabal lives like the kings in the palace, always making it impossible for the National Assembly to reach a common ground on issues that affect the citizens of the country. Example of this is the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Recently, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Samusi, condemned the amount being spent by Nigeria to finance the federal legislators putting it at about 25 percent of federal government overhead.
He drew their ire. In truth, it works out simply thus: if the overhead of the federal government of Nigeria stands at N536.2 billion and the National Assembly gets N136, 259, 768, 102 (N136.2 billion), what does it constitute? Is it 25.41% or 3.5%?
All these will be eliminated including the cabal and make our representatives responsible directly to the electorate if we hearken to Sanusi’s words.
Nigeria’s current democracy is a system of government adopted from our colonial masters, Britain. Going by the definition of democracy, the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, who served his country from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, democracy is the ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
If you examine this definition, there is no where Abraham Lincoln turned the definition around as ‘Government of the people by the party or the cabal for the people’ which Nigerian politicians now practice.
It must be stated here that political party system was devised in Britain over a century ago. Britain, like the other western nations, is a capitalist country.
Capitalism is a system of government whereby a single party rules and controls the affairs of government.
As Nigeria’s colonial masters, Britain introduced the political party system to Nigeria at independence when Nigerians were largely illiterate and the system was extremely strange to them.
Nigerians, being very intelligent people, saw the loopholes in the system, and these loopholes enabled them to adopt corrupt practices. These corrupt practices, observed prior to independence in 1960, developed in many ways. Now corruption is Nigeria’s albatross with our treasury being the major victim and the people the end sufferers.
To be honest, I am very sure that members of House of Representative are under allegiance to ensure that their party cabals are well and truly financially maintained and sustained. But how? It is by all sorts of corrupt practices, secret inflation of contracts and creation of unnecessary offices. Imagine the colossal sum of money spent on electioneering campaigns. Where does the money come from? It is no wonder that Lamido Sanusi again cried out loudly a few months ago that more than half of the nation’s income is gulped by the House of Representatives and Senate, not mentioning the “Third House”. What allocation is left for infrastructure and other essential developmental projects?
To be honest with ourselves, it is difficult not to conclude that the cabal is the citadel of corruption in Nigeria. And when the head practises corruption, all the big and small names there will do likewise.
Under normal circumstances, a member of the House of Representatives ought not to earn more than a university don. But most of them earn a don’s annual salary in one month. For doing what, you may ask?
Below are other reasons political parties ought to be abolished:
*It is sheer waste of public funds.
And how is the money obtained? Through corrupt practices in high places.
*Electioneering campaigns, generally, are too riotous, violent and full of intrigues. Political parties will do anything, including arson and assassination, if that would enable them capture people’s votes to form the government. It is a highly criminal procedure.
*Political office holders, because of the assistance obtained from top party hierarchy, compensate the cabal that helped them win election.
It is my belief that, the two Houses often formed by political parties are foreign to Africa and can be abolished or amended. This was done in a north African country a couple of weeks ago. Similarly, a West African country suspended their senate a couple of weeks ago.
Imagine all the rioting, arson, assassinations, unlawful killings and armed conflict taking place all over Africa, they all arose as a result of the intrigues of political parties justling for power.
Let us tell ourselves the truth: adoption of the ordinary rules of meetings practised by organizations like the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Medical Association, the Nigerian Labour Congress, the various unions in universities and other tertiary institutions is much simpler to understand, much cheaper — it will cut the unnecessarily exorbitant expenditure of the legislature by at least 75 percent and with a better result.
Once again, the political party system is a mere grand design to provide cheap jobs for the elite to get fat salaries or income at the detriment of the workers and ordinary citizens in the community.
Strictly speaking, with a well and properly constituted INEC and the already laid out constituencies as well as a properly supervised computerised system of voting, elections should take place joyously and results announced within 48 hours in peace and without the presence of the army or police at the polling booths.
Let us take the bull by the horn, let us abolish the political party system, for peace and faster progress in Nigeria.
•Sholanke, lawyer wrote from Yaba, Lagos