South East Stakeholders Task FG On Addressing Money Politics


Stakeholders in the South East have urged the Federal Government to initiate mechanisms to check increasing money politics in Nigeria.
A cross section of those who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the zone, expressed displeasure on increasing money politics in the country.
An octogenarian and retired permanent secretary in Imo, Mr Fabian Agba, expressed concern that government institutions saddled with checkmating such menace as money politics, were not carrying out their duties.
Agba, who said politicians should be made to have little or no access to public funds, noted that corruption had made them the elite class of the society.
The octogenarian called for the re-establishment of institutions “so that those in bureaucratic system will be allowed to do their job while politicians, who are representatives of tax payers, also do their job.
“How many of these people who bought the N100 million form have produced their tax receipts to show that they pay tax. Is tax evasion not a criminal offense?
“Some children were asked recently what they would like to be and they answered, I will like to be a delegate. And that was because of how money went during a party primary recently.
“This is already scandalizing the populace. Instead of saying I want to be a doctor, politician, or lawyer, they said, I want to be a delegate.
“It is unfortunate that politics pay more than any other profession in the country; even more than a professor. If the country wants to come out of the menace, it must reduce what is happening now,” he said.
A Pastor, Mr Victory Okechi also condemned the rising trend of vote buying and bribing the election umpires to declare the highest bidders winners in the polls.
Okechi added that credible candidates for political office were sadly exempted from contesting in parties where they had better chances because they could not afford the exorbitant cost of nomination forms.

He warned that the trend would set the country back especially, if the anti-graft agencies failed to enforce strict penalties for misappropriation of public funds by political office holders.

Prof. Ifeanyichukwu Abada, former Head of Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), says until the country is devoid of corruption, money politics will continue to be on the rise.
Abada said the huge amount of money given to delegates in naria or dollars by politicians before and during political parties primaries were stolen money gotten from high level of corruption in Nigeria.

“These politicians that have converted our democracy to money politics are either holding elective and appointed positions in the country now or in the past successive governments.

“This money they are sharing are funds they syphoned from public treasury meant for the development of the country.

“I challenge all of them to explain to Nigerians and the world the genuine business they do to get such huge amount of money,” he said.

The don said money politics would continue to rise in the country untill good measures were put in place that would guarantee transparency and accountability from elected and appointed public officers.

“Some of these politicians have occupied different elective and appointed positions in the country since 1999, pocketing billions of naria budgeted to develop their states and constituencies,” he said.

Abada lamented that if money politics was at this height now during party primaries, one would wonder what would happen during the 2023 general elections.

Speaking, Mr Chidi Onah, a Right Activist and Lawyer, described the level of money politics witnessed in political parties primaries for 2023 general elections as “worrisome”.

Onah urged security agencies in the country to rise up to the challenge and arrest the ugly development that had become a threat to the country’s democracy.

“Security agencies in the country especially the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), should ensure that culprits of money politics are brought to justice no matter whose ‘Ox is gored’.

“Something urgent should be done before the country’s image is badly damaged before the international community.

“If nothing is done to stop this ugly development, it will be difficult for Nigerians as well as international community to believe that 2023 general elections will be free and fair,”  Onah said.

An Enugu based businessman, Chukwuemka Chioke, noted that money politics had led to the mortgaging of the country’s future into the hands of mediocrities which hindered its prosperity and development.

Chioke said those who were qualified and willing to contribute meaningfully for the betterment of the country were being shut out because they could not meet up financially.

He, however, blamed electorates for accepting money from politicians to vote for them, saying “it is something that needs to be discouraged”.

In Abia, respondents identified hardship among the citizenry and desperation by politicians to clinch power as largely responsible for the growing notoriety of money politics in the country.

The former state Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Dunlop Okoro said in Umuahia that money politics was taking root in the country because of the “ungodly desire by the political class to get into power at all cost”.

Okoro said that it was unfortunate that party delegates and the electorate also contributed to the growing phenomenon because they not only collected money but went ahead to vote for the highest bidder during elections.

He said: “Ordinarily, the future of the state or country lies on the action and inaction of party delegates, who elect candidates for elections depending on the amount of money that exchanged hands.

“They are using everything at their disposal to get into office because they know that Nigerians are weak financially and can be swayed and influence with financial inducement even to vote against their consciences,” he said.

Okoro called on relevant government agencies to put necessary structures on ground to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the Electoral Act that spoke to prudent and responsible spending by political office seekers during electioneering.

According to him, this will help to ensure that only credible candidates emerged from party primary elections and in turn increase the chances of producing a responsible, dependable and responsive representatives.

Also, Mr Nelson Nwafor, the Executive Director of Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, described the ugly political development as worrisome.

Nwafor said that Nigeria had met all the indicators of a failed state as people had been plunged into untold financial hardship.

He said that this had made people to consider the period of electioneering as a time to partake in the sharing of the loot stolen by politicians from the national treasury.

He said: “The economic instability in the country, which has caused unbearable hardship, and the failure of the government at all levels to deliver on the mandate given to them by the people, made money politics to thrive.

“It is an unfortunate trend that poses great danger to the nation’s democracy. The trend would make it increasingly difficult for us to elect credible persons in office,” Nwafor said.

He admonished the electorate to rise above money politics and own back the country by adopting politics of idealogy.

He further called on the INEC to live up to its responsibility by ensuring that financial spending by political office seekers did not exceed the ceiling prescribed by law.

In Imo, respondents called on the anti-graft agencies to step up their game in the fight against corruption and the increasing money politics in the country.

Contributing, a former Chairman of the Imo Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Fidel Onyeneke expressed concern that the electorate had allowed money to becloud their sense of judgment.

Onyeneke said this had resulted in the election of people who had no pedigree and who lacked the right antecedents for the positions they were elected into.

“We keep complaining about the political leaders because we keep voting in people who don’t have the right antecedents; why should anyone who only has money to offer be allowed to contest in any political party?

“This trend doesn’t portray Nigeria in a good light and until we, the electorate, realise this and stop allowing money to becloud our judgment, the situation will not change,” he said.

He added that aspirants who should have no moral justification to contest for public office because of numerous corruption charges against them now boldly contest and are pronounced eligible by their political parties.

He also faulted anti-graft agencies in the country for not doing a thorough job in determining the sources of the wealth flagrantly displayed by the aspirants.

Also contributing, an Owerri-based Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Nigeria Newspoint Newspaper, Mr Lambert Ojukwu, said the increasing money politics was a show of how corruption was embedded in the country.

Ojukwu pointed out that those in governance were not there to serve the people but themselves.

According to him, it is unfortunate that money has become the topical issue rather than political ideologies.

“We cannot differentiate a political party by a populist or socialist programme, they are just one and same in terms of money politics. This portends danger to the country politically.

“How can people pay dollars for an individual to vote them; this is someone who wants to serve, whose salary will not be up to N100 million per annum.

“This money being spent, where did they get them from and if it were in a better clime, they will be investigated,” he added.

Ojukwu called for implementation of legislations to checkmate vote buying, noting that it would grant patriotic and selfless citizens opportunity to provide services that will better the country.

Stakeholders from various spheres in Ebonyi have bemoaned the increasing effects of money in the nation’s politics, noting that it spells doom for the country.

The respondents submitted that such trend would make the country continue producing corrupt and inept leaders.

Chief Basil Okeh,  a Social Democratic Party (SDP) Stalwart in Ebonyi, said that the development was the root of all the problems being faced by the country presently.

“Producing good leaders starts with the process of their emergence from the various political parties.

“An aspirant who purchases his party’s nomination form for a whopping N100million for instance, would go ahead to bribe delegates with even higher amounts.

‘This is in the quest to emerge the party’s flag bearer and when he eventually wins the election, he would be more interested in recouping his money and making gains instead of enhancing the people’s welfare,”.

Mr Jude Ajaegbu, a Legal Practitioner based in Abakaliki said that such development had serious psychological and economic effects on the masses.

“Incompetent leaders improverish the people through their policies and programmes and this makes the people see corruption as a right to partake in the share of the national cake.

“When delegates are elected to choose a competent leader among a lot, they prefer to choose someone who will offer them money.

“There is a pervading belief among Nigerians that the money collected from a politician during primaries or campaigns, is the only thing the person would get during such leader’s reign in office”, he said.

Mrs Rose Ibekwe, a University Lecturer, said that such development cascaded to the youths and influence their actions in the society.

“Students are currently at home due to these same politicians inability to meet the demands of their lecturers.

“When these youths see the amount of money the politicians dole for elections, they conclude that money was the only language understood by all, in the country.

“They subsequently resort to crimes such as political thuggery, armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings, cyber crimes among others to attain relevance,” he said.

They suggested that severe punishment should be to the offenders in the efforts to build and strengthen the nation’s democratic system.

Mr Christopher Okorie, Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC), Ebonyi, said money politics in the country have been on the increase, because of system collapse.

“Our political system have been in a serious danger because the citizens have no respect for the law of the land.

“The development has effectively established politics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The act have marred elections in the country several years.

“In Nigeria, it is not about the electorates, it is about the system, because when a system allow and empower the delegate to collect money, which is bribe, a criminal offence.

“Money politics should be discouraged because that is an act of bribe and given and collecting bribe is a criminal offence. So, those involve should always be punishmented for the act.

“To checkmate the increasing money politics, we should implement laws allowing punishment to whoever that are involve. We should desist from using money to buy power to the detriment of the citizenry.

Mr Chibuike Nwanchor, Spokeman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Ebonyi chapter said that the increasing money politics in Nigeria as “threat” to advancement of the nation’s democracy.

“It has suggested a high level of impunity among some who wanted to gain power and wealth through illegal means across states of the federation.

“The politicians should desist from such act of giving money but focuse on their manifestos and blueprints that can bring change to the society,”

“We should not allow ourselves to be used by politicians. Money politics cannot give you a good leader but rather impoverish you and the country.

A senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Mr Justus Nwabueze told NAN that the emergence of money-bag politics in Nigeria was, fraudulent and undemocratic.

“I am embarrassed by the situation; it is fraudulent; it is undemocratic. It is nothing but vote buying, which must be condemned by all well meaning Nigerians,” he said.

He said that the current practice of vote buying by politicians was detriment to the growth of democracy in the country.

“This may scuttle our democracy if not checked. No nation grows with this kind of democracy.

“There is a report making the rounds that some delegates were given fake dollars and if this is true, then, what kind of Leaders are we expecting going forward. This is ridiculous, ” he said.

The university don lamented that vote buying denied the electorate the opportunity of choice making thereby voting the wrong people into offices

“Obviously, this rubs the society of quality Leadership. The implications is that leadership position becomes for the highest bidder,” he said.

He tasked the anti corruption agencies and the electoral umpire to double their efforts to checkmate the excesses of politicians “so as not to derail our democracy.” (NAN)