In politics, when a politician or a political party promises the electorates heaven and earth during rallies or campaigns, it is called psychology of politics. For instance, when a political party candidate seeking legislative election begins to promise the electorates road construction and industrialization or a presidential or gubernatorial candidate begins to promise the electorates total elimination of corruption, equality of naira with US dollar and unemployment if elected.
In the 2015 general elections’ executive and legislative campaigns in Nigeria that just ended, they were dominated by promises best described in the context of psychology of politics. As a matter of fact, the two leading political parties in the country; the PDP and the APC are roundly involved with the worse being the APC. Neither of the two parties was able to address concretely the socio-economic problems facing the country and their solutions if elected. The duo in recent times is the architect of Nigeria’s socio-economic doldrums. The parties have become symbols used by the country’s governing class including its corrupt individuals to retard the country’s socio-economic development. There have been steady movements back and forth by the referenced kleptomania class using the two symbols. These they called “defection”. The parties having been in charge of executive and legislative governances in one way or the other in most of the country’s federal government, 36 States and 774 LGAs in Nigeria; are credited with deficit governance.
While the epicenter of the PDP political governance is the Federal Government of Nigeria, the APC’s governance epicenter is Lagos State. Interestingly, all the socio-economic problems afflicting the country or any part thereof including judicial, executive and legislative corruptions are physically present at their doorsteps. Both of them are highly indebted governing authorities. For instance, the PDP led Federal Government of Nigeria has cumulatively (local and external debts) borrowed over $45 Billion since 2007. That is to say that as at 2007, after the country’s successful external debts relief, the total remaining local and foreign debts belonging to the federal government controlled by the PDP were about $15 Billion comprising foreign debts of about $3.5 Billion and local debts of N1.8 Trillion (about $12B). In Lagos State under the APC, it cumulatively owes between N500 Billion and N600 Billion (about $3B); making it the most indebted State in Nigeria and Africa’s ocean of poverty.
Both the Federal Government and the Government of Lagos State controlled by the two parties have enormous resource potentials capable of making them lenders and not borrowers; investors and not consumers. The annual internally generated revenues and the federal allocations of Lagos State hover between 350Billion and N450Billion, which is up to 90% of its annual budget size; yet the State is neck-deep in reckless and serial borrowings. The PDP led Federal Government also has potentials making it possible to fund its annual budgets without borrowings; but owing to bare-faced corruption and excessive governance running costs, it is enmeshed in indebtedness. For instance, its overhead costs and allowances for political appointees are utterly alarming and deafening.
In Lagos State, these two are also alarming. Through some crooked State laws, billions of naira is annually frittered into private pockets of its public office holders. Corruption and corrupt practices are also very high in Lagos State controlled by the APC, likewise at the PDP controlled federal level. In Lagos State, the judiciary plays a major role in shielding corruption and corrupt practices involving top present and past public office holders. In all, there are thickened health, public education, housing, water, energy, environmental, transportation, food, population, unemployment, infrastructure and economic crises in Lagos State controlled by the APC, likewise at the Federal level controlled by the PDP. The two political classes are leprous and anti people, peopled by primitive wealth accumulators and political traders.
Psychology of politics as defined above can also mean using social problems afflicting the electorates to canvass and win votes without having capacity and ability to remedy them if elected. One of the stark instances of the above was recent promise by the presidential candidate of the APC to make One Nigerian Naira to be equal to One US Dollar if elected. The truth is that the referenced candidate will never see One Naira equaling One US Dollar in his lifetime, not to talk of making it if elected. Assuming Nigeria retraces its step today and embarks upon radical socio-economic integrated development, it will be very difficult for One Naira to be exchanged for One US Dollar in the next fifteen years. On the part of the PDP presidential candidate, who said he will end corruption if elected; it is purely psychology of politics because corruption can only be curtailed and not ended. It is like promising to eliminate crime in the society, which is very impossible because the forefather of the society is crime itself. Same thing applies to ending unemployment or employing every jobless Nigerian, etc. On the other hand, the APC’s promise to make the Second Niger Bridge toll free if elected is deceivable because the Lekki Toll Gate under its control has not been declared free and dismantled.
Further, the two political parties under reference are also enmeshed in armchair governing styles by not being able to create independent sources of resource mobilizations without serial borrowings. When a governor cries openly of his or her owing his or her workforce of months of wages owing to fall in the federal allocations or borrows loans to pay wage or revamp public primary and secondary schools; then such a governor is an armchair or lazy, shortsighted and consumer governor. The two resource rich geopolitical zones of South-south and Southwest comprising 12 States, which are under the governance leadership of the two parties own over N1.4trillion (about $8B) in both local and foreign debts; making them the most indebted zones in Nigeria. There are strong suspicion that the loans are borrowed for consumption and criminal diversion.
The Truths Hidden From Nigerians By Political Parties’ Candidates During Campaigns:
Legal System: Nigeria’s legal system is still weak and obsolete. From the Constitution, its auxiliary laws and international statutes, they require robust rebranding and repackaging. Nigeria’s body of laws is too weak to fight and checkmate corruption. Penalty provisions for convicted corrupt persons are too lenient and corruption friendly. The criminal laws of the country are still very awkward and blurred. The Chapter Two of the Constitution is still non justiciable and there are numerous ouster clauses in the Chapter Four of the Constitution or the Fundamental Human Rights including non remedial provisions for the victims of violent crimes.
There are numerous international statutes that Nigeria has not ratified or domesticated. There are still little or no provisions for social justice in the country’s body of laws for the people of Nigeria.
Education: Access to education in Nigeria is still very minimal. The country’s tertiary education system is yet to be revolutionalized and computerized by way of distance education, etc. Minimal or no researches have successfully been carried out by Nigeria’s tertiary institutions till date. No Nigerian university till date has the capacity through pure and social science research findings, to offer solutions to the country’s myriad of security, social and economic problems. Massive education is required in the core north for millions of street urchins, children of the street and children in the street so as to end their retreatist status, which makes them prone to violence and other social vices.
Natural Resources: The country’s natural resources including its 33 solid mineral deposits, other than oil and gas are yet to be mechanized and industrialized.
Agriculture: The country’s agriculture is still subsistent with most of its produce including fruits remaining seasonal owing to acute absence of scientific researches, innovations and mechanization. Fruits like guavas, mangoes, pears, breadfruits, bananas, oranges, apples, pineapples, etc, are still subsistent and seasonal in Nigeria; likewise palm produce, yams, beans, maize and cassavas.
Environment: Nigeria is still an acute enemy of environmental sustainability. Over 60 million homes and industries still use generating plants with their consequential environmental hazards including ozone layer depletion. The natural source of oxygen dies daily in the country due to various harmful human activities on environment and there is steady extinction of wildlife in the country. Deforestation is still very high in Nigeria.
Importation: Nigeria still hugely imports goods and services and minimally exports same. The country direly needs to have surplus balances of trade and payments. The country’s foreign reserves are steadily dwindling. The China’s foreign reserves have hit up to $4trillion or more and its overseas investments worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In the case of Nigeria, reverse is acutely the case. It presently owes more than twice of its foreign reserves.
Borrowings: The country hardly borrows for productive reasons except for consumption reasons. The teething costs of governance and allowances in the country’s public governance must be drastically reduced. For instance, annual servicing of only 12,788 LGAs officials in the country takes N592Billion, which is alarming and shocking. Of the N592Billion, N550Billion is spent on allowances alone. Over N1trillion is spent annually in the payment of the wages particularly the allowances of the federal public servants; likewise in the overheads where similar amount is spent annually. All of these must be halved.
Industrialization: The country aggressively needs to be revolutionalized industrially. This involves overhauling of the country’s trade and investment policies and laws to attract huge foreign capitals as well as providing social incentives in terms of security, access roads, creation of industrial zones with their environmental impact policies and adequate credit schemes for local investors.
Energy Crisis: Nigeria is in dire need of multi-sectoral energy generation. China exports 40% of the world coal production and Japan generates about 30% of its electricity through coal. The driving engine of industrialization is steady energy generation, transmission and distribution. Though the country’s energy sector has been privatized (generation and distribution), but the trio of generation, transmission and distribution is still acutely problematic. The next government at the federal level must find solutions to the energy epilepsy in Nigeria. If the investors are not able to provide permanent solutions to the generation and distribution, then the deal should be revoked and re-privatized. The transmission sub-sector in the country’s energy presently manned by the federal government should be revisited and overhauled.
Skill Acquisition: This involves establishment and fortification of technical schools and setting aside of zero interest funds to support the citizens to be self reliant and self employed after schooling and training.
Huge Capital Allocations: Budgetary allocations for capital development in Nigeria should be reviewed triply upwards by the incoming Federal and State governments while those for recurrent expenditures including overheads and allowances should be triply reviewed downwards so as to have enough resources for capital development in the country or any part thereof. All categories of allowances and overheads including security votes in Nigeria should be halved.
Key Infrastructures: Apart from insufficiency of key public infrastructures like roads, railway, airports, stadia, hospital, education institutions, etc, which must be reversed; their round the clock maintenance must be given a priority in the country. Nigeria still grapples with acute poor maintenance culture.
Public Allowances Pay: Laws creating such obnoxious pay wages like the Pensions Law of Lagos State of 2007 and the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders Act of the Federation 2002 as amended in 2008 should be radically amended to halve all the allowances so contained so as to mobilize adequate resources for social development in Nigeria.
New Industrial Master Plans: Nigeria is in dire need of visionary leaders and not primordial political leaders. The South-south should be expanded to retain its oil industrial zone. The Southeast and the Southwest zones should be designated as trade and commerce and technological industrial zones. The North-central zone should be agric industrial zone and the Northeast and the Northwest should serve as tourism, agriculture and research industrial zones. All the industrial zones should also be made export industrial zones.
Lastly, the above should have formed an integral part of the 2015 general elections’ presidential, gubernatorial and legislative campaigns and not the other way round. As Nigerians go to the poll tomorrow to elect the next president and federal lawmakers, it is important for them to have at the back of their minds that neither the APC nor the PDP has a robust and radical governance package that will take the country to the next level of socio-economic development, which is direly needed.
The truth, which must be addressed, for the country to move in the right path, is the issue of concentration of the country’s wealth in the hands of few citizens dominated by the political class and their cronies. This is why there is acute dearth of resources needed to turn things around for every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country. There is fundamental need to radically re-distribute the country’s wealth to make it even, fair and equitable.
The reason why Nigerians are being forced to vote either the candidate of the PDP or that of the APC is due to absence of formidable independent candidates, which the country’s body of laws still frowns at. It is important to inform that there is no hope of quick and formidable socio-economic recovery in the next national government to be formed by the PDP or the APC until a rightful candidate with ambitious leadership skills is discovered.
The performances of the candidates of the two parties in the just concluded rallies and campaigns, in terms of social contract packages they ought to offer Nigerians as their trust of next national governance, are nothing to write about. As a matter of fact, the two parties particularly the APC have no mass oriented and strategic plans for integrated development of the country if elected.
Our grouse over the 2015 general polls on the part of leading political parties and their candidates is predicated on the above. As we said earlier, the major minus of the 2015 polls on the part of INEC is its systematic and inexcusable disenfranchisement of 12.4 million registered voters of pastoralist and minority ethnic backgrounds in a presidential election involving multi ethnic groups. The Commission risks attracting tens of thousands of group law suits after the presidential poll pursuant to Section 46 of the Constitution. The INEC’s conduct is fundamental affront to the Fundamental Human Rights provisions in the Constitution.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program