Discerning stakeholders within and outside Nigeria have been making concerned statements drawing attention to the need for responsible conduct by the office-seekers and the voting public before, during and even after the next year’s General Election. One of the most impactful comments was made by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Reverend Dr, Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Bishop Kukah cautioned the populace not to resort to violence for the purpose of helping either of the presidential flag bearers of political parties to actualise their electoral ambitions, as that would deny the country the opportunity of having a free, fair and credible poll. New Telegraph congratulates Dr Kukah for speaking truth to the mighty, high and low.
The act of speaking such truth and rising to the status of the conscience of the nation is a recurring decimal by the scholar-cum clergyman. Through such display of nationalism, he has helped detect the drift of the Nigerian state while mobilising the polity towards finding solutions.
Such developmental role is what has helped propel most counties to the summit of human civilization. Such a disposition is expected of every one. We must state that Bishop Kukah’s admonition is timely, as there is heightened desperation by political activists in order to earn the adequate electoral capital to occupy their elective positions.
Some of the political gladiators are reported to have able-bodied young men, whose obligations are to do the illegal biddings of their principals.
These include ensuring that the perceived supporters of the rivals of their principals are not allowed to register to become eligible voters, making sure that the perceived supporters of the opponents are prevented from collecting their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and helping to mount opposition against the electronic transfer of votes and the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
Political desperation could be said to be chiefly fuelled by the growing perception of politics as an offer of an escape route and farewell to lack and poverty. This perception has contributed, in a huge measure, to the erroneous conclusion that politics is a form of business.
Politics, to a reasonable extent, is viewed as having the prospect of helping to rehabilitate individuals, without carriers, professions, businesses or vocations or even those who have crashed out of either of them. Political activists therefore do everything humanly possible including cutting corners to raise funds to pay the outrageous amounts charged by the political parties for nomination forms.
Such desperate political activists would usually strive hard to out-spend their opponents during campaigns. Nigeria stands doomed with a democratic order that produces some politicians without any means of livelihood outside politics.
Such full time politicians are unlikely to be supportive of meaningful efforts towards the actualisation of democratic standards including the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. A political process, as warped as illustrated, would expectedly produce a political leadership that is at best, average or even below average.
Such political leadership may not have what it takes to evolve a realistic vision that would help give education, health and education sectors their deserving places in the scheme of things.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is part of the Executive Branch of Government, it may lack the truly unbiased disposition to whip the political parties into line including the ruling party. After all, some officials of INEC are appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari. This, in itself, could be regarded as a form of subtle influence, which could go a long way to undermining the much-sought impartiality of INEC.
We therefore recommend that all top officials of INEC including its Chairman, should henceforth, be appointed by a body which, at best, could be said to be representative, in nature. This representative body should be composed of competent and credible members of some responsible professional/pressure groups and trade unions.
This would help to deal decisively with the perceived subtle influence of the Executive Organ of Government over INEC. By making INEC answerable to a representative body, outside the control of the Federal Government (FG), it will go a long way to making INEC truly independent.
The electoral umpire would be encouraged to bark and bite more effectively and efficiently with regard to the discharge of her constitutional responsibilities including the outright disqualification of candidates of political parties found to be promoting violence.
It would not be out of place to review the salaries and perks attached to all political offices including the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The personal emoluments relating to the referred political positions should be made to always reflect the general standard of living of the populace.
The trend whereby excessive comfort is ceded to all political offices is retrogressive and compromising of nationbuilding such would continue to attract a high number of misfits in many areas of human endeavour to the equally strategic platform of politics for uncontrollable rehabilitation.
It is for this and other related reasons that New Telegraph pushes for a review of the privileges enjoyed by political office-holders such as severance packages, security votes, hazard and entertainment allowances as well as the right to aspire for second terms with regard to the posts of President and Governors and parliamentarians at local government, state and national levels.
No doubt, such a move would help discourage violence and desperation among political gladiators, as admonished by the conscience of the nation, Bishop Kukah.