A A few years ago I was so fascinated by the ambition of a serial politician who had no chance of winning that I had to wonder if it was worth the stress. He’s not racing to win, he said. He runs to stay relevant. He took his time to explain how such a political presence had inflated his profile and expanded his social networks, and it only made sense that he would invest so much of his resources and time in being visible and finding a place among the political elite. . Nigeria is a status crazy country.
If one had not known the Nigerians or had been away for too long, it would have been easy to be fooled by the current charade of reporting among political aspirants emerging almost every second. It seems like every adult in the country is running for office and in recent days the circus has been more pronounced around the characters who chose the All Progressives Congress (APC) 100 million naira presidential nomination forms. But, for most of them, they know, because of their glaring lack of structure or support, that they have no chance of winning the election. It is a costly blow to improve their social status and to be seen by the power-sharing board of Nigeria PLC.
The reason APC is raising prices on its expression of interest and nomination forms for all elective positions is to dispel this circus, the party claimed. Party leaders know theirs is the bride of the moment and the favorite platform for status-seeking political contenders, so they rushed to announce the prices of their nomination forms at prizes that no one with income decent can afford without compromising their values. With 50 million naira for governorate forms, 20 million naira for the Senate, 10 million naira for the House of Representatives and 2 million naira for the State House of Assembly, the rage of politicians “private of their rights” and even bystanders calling the process a glorified money laundering scheme is understandable. .
For the national president of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, “if a presidential candidate cannot mobilize at least ten thousand supporters to raise such a sum, this person is not a serious candidate”. This logic is an excuse for self-ridiculing by someone who should be the main salesman in the party. Popularity can be a charm in politics, but it counts against outstanding aspirants who have excelled in careers or businesses that deprived them of publicity or public interaction. It is also a parody of the country in which Senator Adamu had the chance to govern a state. More than 50% of the population of Nasarawa State, which he ruled for eight years before his election to represent a district in the Senate, languishes in poverty. The party chairman could not ignore the economic and psychological topography of the country they are reluctantly forced to deliver by biology, one that has been trashed by this magnitude of multidimensional poverty and distrust of politics.
The sieve used by Senator Adamu does not help to dispel the no seriousness, it creates a haven for government officials occupying prune offices to advertise and emphasize their status. The caliber of politicians who have bought the N100m forms so far, who are elected government officials and political appointees, suggests that tariffication has only separated those with access to public funds from those who do not want to stake their savings on an uncertain project. It is only unrestricted access to a public fund that justifies the purchases of the 100 million naira status forms by, say, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, a lackluster politician with an uninspiring record, or Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labor and Employment who has been a cruel gaff machine and a pariah for the influential Nigerian trade unions.
It’s also amusing how political offices demystify even those who were once considered the hope of the nation. Adams Oshiomhole of the Obasanjo era, for example, would have been an attractive candidate for the masses. But the man he has become in less than a decade in politics is a caricature of the fire-breathing champion of the people that he was. Perhaps some of these up-and-coming public figures only show their true color when elected or appointed. Governor Rochas Okorocha’s chances of also becoming president are now slimmer than they were before he was elected to rule Imo State, where he fell most dramatically.
Senator Adamu also knows that aspirants who have deposited 100 million naira in APC bank accounts cannot mobilize 10,000 supporters to donate 10,000 naira each to their campaign. They do so easily because of their access to public funds, and we have to be honest in telling ourselves that a system in which government officials in sensitive positions can participate in such a multi-million naira gambling hall without having to quitting is dangerous. The height of this dystopian elite transgression is the involvement of a sitting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in this partisan quest for status.
The scariest part of this elite circus is the thought of the millions these public office holders had to set aside to pay delegates to secure their primary votes. Ultimately, this costly endeavor will eat away at the treasury deeply or be reflected in the bloated contracts from which governors, ministers and other executive heads of MDAs in the race are waiting for bribes. It is either the most expensive channel for seeking status or simply a grand strategy for raising campaign funds ahead of elections.
When one of the party’s youngest presidential aspirants took to social media to protest the price of the form, he was savagely mocked. He still continued to do what Senator Adamu had advised him – he asked his followers to donate for his campaign. This has only intensified the mockery, with some advising him to probably run under the banner of a political party he can afford. When the APC was formed ahead of the 2015 elections to give Buhari his most realistic ticket for Aso Rock, the presidential nomination form was 25 million naira, the expression of interest as 2.5 million naira, and even as the former holder of the highest office in the country. during the military era, he had to bank on the bullion vans of the very characters he was elected to fight to win the election. One might have expected this to inspire reform to de-market candidacy for political office. At the state level, aspirants also feel ostracized by the N50 million gubernatorial form, with some leaving the party to try their luck elsewhere.
That struggling public office holders are at the forefront of the presidential race, a challenge to carry a load tens of millions of times heavier than they had, tells you up where they are willing to go to pay their dues to stay in the big boys’ club. Almost all former political office holders in Nigeria claim to have sacrificed everything to serve Nigeria. Ironically, they all left office visibly wealthier than they were before making such a “huge sacrifice” for the nation. Some governors served as if they were obligated to be in office and seemed eager for the end of their disastrous second terms, only to find them rushing to pick up a nomination form to run for president or president. Senate. Indeed, no one wants to get off the social radar in a status worshiping country.