University Don Beams Search Light on Negative Role of Moneybags in Nigerian Politics

Dr Isaiah Osifo

By Jethro Ibileke

A lecturer in the Department of International Relations and Diplomatic Studies, Ave Maria University, Abuja, Dr Isaiah Osifo, has charged the Nigerian electorate to reject what he called the neo-slavery business of the moneybags in Nigeria’s politics.

Osifo gave the charge weekend in Benin, Edo State while delivering a lecture titled “Democracy in Africa: The Role of Moneybags in Nigerian Politics”, at the 16th anniversary of The Reliance Newspaper.

The University Don who is the All Progressives Grand Alliance,  APGA, candidate in the 21 2024, governorship election in Edo, opined that the leadership of the various political parties no longer intended to foster the ideological basis of their parties but to have control of the party structure to influence the process nomination. This, he said, has brought about the influx of moneybags into the parties.

According to him, “The origin of the monetisation of the electoral process is traceable to the failure of the incumbent governments in the delivery of effective governance and the dividend of democracy. The desperation to hold on to power in the face of a failed government led to the inducement of the electoral officers to compromise the integrity of the election and direct purchase of votes from the voters. The opposition political parties in response to the moneybags in the ruling political party, decided to adopt a competitive approach of counter inducement of the electoral officers and purchase of votes.

“The influence of moneybags on political party primaries was negligible in the past because of the discipline of political parties’ leadership and membership that was rooted in sound ideology. With the increasing dependence of political elites on the government as the main source of livelihood, moneybags converted political parties and government into business ventures.

“The investment in the political party leadership was no longer intended to foster the ideological basis of the party but to have control of the party structure to influence the process of the nomination of candidates for the general election and to influence the outcome of the general election. Success in the party nomination and victory in the general election was a sure high return on the investment.

“This agenda of the moneybags on investment and return is the major factor responsible for the non-performance of successive governments that are produced from the investment of the moneybags. No matter the amount that was invested, the investor was sure of the returns after the victory in the political party nomination and the general election. To the political election office holder that was put in office by the moneybags, return on investment was more important than the prudent allocation of public funds for the benefit of the citizens.

“The politics of moneybags are far from politics of service to the community and service to the citizens. The dominant nuisance in the present politics of Nigeria is the politics of moneybags and the dirty ambition of the godfathers. The only criterion that is relevant to the godfathers in the selection of political party candidates is how much money the aspirant can pay to the godfathers and pay to the delegates. Character, antecedents of good conduct, records of community service, etc, are no longer relevant.

Osifo specifically took a swipe at the Labour Party for “turning against its constituency, the workers and the masses of Nigeria” when it joined the moneybags to charge exorbitant fees for nomination forms, thereby preventing workers and other competent masses from contesting. He describes the action as scandalous.

He said: “In the 2023 presidential primaries of APC and PDP, the nomination fee was 100 million Naira. In the 2024 governorship primaries in Edo State, the APC nomination fee was 50 million Naira, the PDP was 40 million Naira, and the Labour Party was 30 million Naira. My party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance,( APGA) was 15 million Naira.

“It must be noted and recognised as particularly scandalous that the Labour Party, a political party that was formed for the workers and the masses of Nigeria decided to turn against their constituency and joined the moneybags with 30 million Naira nomination fees to prevent workers and other competent masses of Nigeria from contesting for the governorship election in Edo State.

“The question that is important to ask is, how many Professors in the University, secondary school and primary school teachers, journalists, civil servants, etc, can afford these prohibitive nomination fees? I strongly believe that these nomination fees are deliberately placed on by the godfathers to exclude qualified persons from asking to be elected as the governor of Edo State.

“I am particularly grateful to my friends and family members who assisted me with the nomination fee. I begged to be assisted in paying the nomination fee to defeat the agenda of the godfathers from excluding competent persons from contesting for the governorship of Edo State.

“Money is now the game of politics in Nigeria. If you don’t have money, stay away from politics. If you have money, irrespective of the source, you can buy the nomination of a political party, buy the electoral officers and buy the votes to assume the political leadership of the State or the country.

“I am not surprised therefore that candidates of some political parties in the 2024 governorship election in Edo State are not residents of Edo State. They are not known to the members of their political party or the voters, they have never voted for anybody in Edo State and have never paid tax in Edo State. The only reason why a political party will select such a candidate is the power of the moneybags and the influence of the godfathers. This is dangerous to our political system, political culture and sustainable development of the State.”

To the University Teacher, the increasing awareness among the electorate is reason to hope that monetization of elections will be defeated someday to come.

“Moneybags politics should not continue and should not be encouraged. There is hope because of the political awareness of the majority of Nigerians. The 2023 general election has demonstrated that the evil of moneybags can be defeated by the collective will of the people. Peter Obi, without spending money won the presidential election in Edo State and many other States despite the huge financial inducement of the moneybags against a transparent process.

“The media, NGOs, religious leaders, and traditional rulers should intensify their campaigns and socialization of the citizens to be more interested in the electoral process of the country and take a strong stand against the agenda of the godfathers and the evil of moneybags.

“The response to the political dominance of moneybags in Nigeria should be voters consciousness and participation in election. The electorates will assist in promoting transparent conduct of elections if they turn out in high numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice. Voters must de-emphasize the political party platform and vote for the competence, character and antecedent of the candidate. The Edo/Nigerian youths must know that their future is tied to the defeat of moneybags in politics.

“When merit and competence constitute the basis of electing a candidate for government, the aftermath will be the efficiency of governance that will take the welfare of the people as a priority, not a return on the investment of the moneybags. Vote and defend your vote, not by violence, but by the collective Will of the people. This will send a clear message to the agents of moneybags, INEC officials and the security agents that enough of their nuisance has destroyed the country,” he said.

Dr. Osifo therefore urged the electorate to vote for candidates that will respect and represent their views after the election, to avoid giving political victory to the moneybags.