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Bad leadership and insecurity in Nigeria

By Abiodun Ramon Oseni
23 October 2022   |   2:34 am
The activities of the various political parties in Nigeria play an important role in ensuring that elections are free and fair in the country.

[FILES] Muhammadu Buhari

The activities of the various political parties in Nigeria play an important role in ensuring that elections are free and fair in the country.

However, the political parties and their delegates are causing serious harm to Nigeria as they have presented bad leaders that have caused insecurity as a result of the corrupt practices of vote-buying.

Nigerians need to focus more on political parties’ primaries and hold their delegates responsible and accountable for maintaining integrity in the election process.

One of the major challenges of democracy in Nigeria is the process of electing the best leaders. This challenge is merged with the fact that the public can only choose their leaders from the candidates presented to them, a decision impacting the next four or more years.

In Nigeria, each political party must use the process of consensus, direct, or indirect primary elections to elect their party’s flag bearer, as stipulated in legislation by Section 84 of the Electoral Act in 2022.

Winners will emerge as the leader of the country through the general election. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with this electoral act, but much is wrong with the political parties and their delegates – they are misrepresenting the will of their constituencies by selling their votes to the highest bidders, thereby presenting corrupt leadership for Nigerians to then deal with the headache of choosing one.

Indirect primaries were adopted by major political parties in Nigeria. This process was alleged to be full of vote-buying, and delegates were paid in US dollars.

For instance, a former Minister of Transportation and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rotimi Amaechi, stated that delegates who voted at the APC primary were bribed to influence the outcome of the convention.

APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu accused the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of deploying $111 million to buy votes. Also, senator Ali Ndume accused the PDP of introducing vote-buying into Nigeria’s electoral system.

During this process, many of the best candidates lost because they could not afford to buy their delegates, while some committed to integrity and were determined to never buy delegates, therefore losing to the highest bidders. The Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, has proposed a life ban for any politician or political party caught in the act of vote-buying.

One can easily write a book on corruption that is longer than “Artamene ou le Grand Cyrus.” The leadership started it, and it has seeped into every private and government parastatal. In fact, it has gotten to the level that the rationale for embezzlement and corruption is becoming ridiculous.

For instance, in early 2018, one of the leaders of The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, claimed that N36 million naira was swallowed by snakes. Then, in 2019, another official claimed that a gorilla went into their office and swallowed N6.8 million naira.

I will be biased if I fail to recognize that since 1999 there have been many efforts to fight corruption. One such effort is the establishment of the EFCC and ICPC, the Nigerian police, and other law enforcement offices such as the NDLA are making serious efforts in fighting corruption.

For instance, the commission’s acting chairman of the EFCC, Mohammed Abba, disclosed that the agency nailed 865 of the 1,305 cases it took to the court in 2020. Abba added that the Commission also recorded humongous cash recoveries and seizure of a significant number of assets from persons indicted of corruption, following the due legal process. However, some Nigerians are of opinion that the efforts of these agencies are still manipulated by those corrupt leaders.

Insecurity in Nigeria can be tied to bad leadership and corruption, which is one of the major reasons why it is still difficult today to defeat banditry, herdsmen attacks, and terrorism. In 2017, Transparency International (TI), a German-based non-governmental organization, found that Nigerian military officers, politicians and other elites have enriched themselves by diverting money that was meant to fight terrorists. Some of the military leaders were arrested and tried.

The question is, what was the outcome of the trials? Some Nigerians referred to the trials as a waste of time, as little or nothing was done to punish the offenders. As INEC is improving the electoral process in Nigeria and making it more difficult to rig elections, more politicians are desperate and eager to pay higher amounts in buying votes and people’s consciences.

In the case where people are unwilling to sell their votes, some politicians are desperate to intimidate voters with violence by employing the services of thugs. For instance, in 2019, two persons were said to have been killed after political thugs attacked some polling units in the Ago Palace Way area of Lagos State. Related attacks happen in every part of the country.

Political parties and their delegates should be responsible for their constituencies, and Nigerians should hold those political parties and their delegates responsible for presenting bad leaders to them at the general elections. Before Nigeria can overcome the menace of bad leadership, corruption, and insecurity, there is a need to check the political parties and their delegates. They are the gatekeepers that open the doors for bad leadership choices.

Oseni, a former U.S. police officer, specialises in International Security at Harvard University.

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