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Youth: Not too poor to run

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Fr. John Damian Adizie with Executive members of Catholic Youth Organisation, Alike Obowo

Does the poor have any place in politics? For people like Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, former Minister of Works, “politics is not a game to be played by the poor.

A poor man cannot win election in Nigeria…” He even advised the poor, “If you are poor stay in your house.”

This sounds ridiculous, but this is exactly what is being played out in our country today.

The poor are not allowed to contest, they are only allowed to vote for the rich. It makes no sense! The country is engulfed with politics of money.

Here, money is not just seen as the ultimate value but as the only value; a system where the few rich ones keep recycling themselves.

They are the same ones that are impoverishing the people, so that they will never be able to afford the unrealistic nomination fee. This is not democracy!

Early this week, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) increased their expression of interest and nomination forms from N550, 000 as at 2014 to N850, 000 for lawmakers in the state Houses of Assembly; from N2.2m to N3.85m for the House of Representative; from N3.3m to N7m for a Senatorial ticket; from N5.5m to N22.5m for governorship aspirants, and from N27m to N45m for presidential aspirant. Does this make any sense?

This is exactly where we are getting it wrong. Where do you expect an individual to raise N45m? How can one get such money without stealing public fund?

Even if government decides to approve the N56, 000 minimum wage, as proposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), how many years will it take one to save N45m for ordinary nomination form?

This does not even include the amount one has to spend on campaign and other logistics.

I don’t think we are ready for democracy. What we are practising at the moment is ‘richiocracy’ by richiocracy.

I mean government of the rich by the rich and for the rich, whereas democracy is supposed to be government of the people by the people and for the people.

With this current politics of money, the people, especially the poor, have no place in politics, no matter how intelligent, creative or spiritual one may be. If one takes a loan to purchase a nomination form, the first thing he will do after election is to start servicing the loan.

Worse still, if the so-called ‘godfathers’ are the sponsors, the candidate will spend his entire tenure servicing the godfathers and taking orders from them.

This is one of the reasons why our politicians are not delivering their campaign promises.

Ironically, the government has recently signed the ‘Not too Young to Run’ bill.

This bill, according to them, is meant to accommodate more young people into politics.

The reduction of age has little or nothing to do with youth inclusion into politics.

Even with the previous age limit, we have so many eligible young people, yet they were unable to run due to high cost of nomination form.

If government really wants to carry youths and everyone along, then it must consider this proposed bill: NOT TOO POOR TO RUN.

This bill is meant to drastically reduce the bill for nomination and other political expenses. It is the most inclusive bill, as long as politics of inclusion is concerned.

The bill is meant to carry everybody along— both the rich and the poor, young and old. With this bill, nobody will feel rejected. Our leaders will have no reason for not delivering because to whom much is given much is expected!


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