In the Series: This is the second part of the series titled Electoral Malpractices: Bane of Nigerian Politics.
Read the first part here: Electoral Malpractices: Bane of Nigerian Politics 1
The origin of electoral malpractice in Nigeria dates back to the first (non-general) election of 1923 when only people in Lagos and Calabar could vote for African representatives into the council governing the affairs of Nigeria then. This is a practical realization of selection as the people to be elected will be elected on the platform of presiding over Nigerian affairs.
Yet, they could only be from Lagos and Calabar, even the electorates. This has generated a lingering line of electoral malpractices in our politics. It should be noted that the military rode on the back of the so-called ‘put the country in order’ horse to creep into the governing of this country as a result of the ‘Wetie’ crisis that started in Ibadan due to electoral malpractice.
The massive rigging of the 2003 general elections left Nigerians wondering whether they know what democracy is or its meaning as defined by the broad-day robbery called elections. As if that is not enough, the 2007 general elections were a redefined way of placing a military-toned system of getting into power on a democratic civilization that is still tender. There was rigging in electoral numbers and people’s lives; people’s freedom was rigged into prison yards.
The havoc election malpractices have caused Nigeria and Nigerians to be more than enough to count. Should we begin to count issues like the bad reputation placed on anything Nigerian in the international community, the system and mode of governing now seen in Nigeria? The ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ attitude of politically elected and appointed officers coupled with their friends and families? The gradual move-into-the-ditch tending of virtually all aspects of our life? Brandishing our country as a ‘failed state’ and so on?
The widespread acceptance of electoral malpractice in Nigeria has wrongfully changed the mindset of Nigerians and even people of other countries that there is nothing that cannot happen in Nigeria. The following practical evidential examples will show how almost true this negative mindset about Nigeria can be: the name of the world-renowned boxer, Mike Tyson, appeared on the voters’ register in 2007, there was a polling booth in an evil forest in one south Eastern state in the same 2007. The Obafemi Awolowo University at Ile-Ife, Osun State, was officially closed during the elections and produced thirty thousand (30,000) votes for the then incumbent governor of that state. These examples have made malpractice an established tradition in all facets of the Nigerian life.
Electoral malpractice became the bane of Nigerian politics from the first day it was opted for. The dictionary meaning of bane states:
a curse of misery or death, an affliction of curse, a source of harm or ruin ‘curse’.
In Nigeria today, electoral malpractice has jeopardized our political system. There is no longer politics of principles but politics of supremacy. Today, people go into politics for inhumane purposes; some to amass wealth, gain power, have influence, have rich curriculum vitae, and have free access to foreign trips or government officials of other countries. Also, some join politics to escape being caught for some shady deals they have done or the intended ones. Worst of all, some people join politics to avenge their ‘tagged enemies’.
It will be weird for people to go into politics with the above-enumerated mindset and get into power in a free and fair manner. Hence, electoral malpractice is inevitable. When the purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. Since the true purpose of politics is not known, the abuse of politics, parties, political office, and appointment positions is not negotiable.
Then what is politics? Without reference to anybody/book, politics has to do with the whole process of making a society work in line with the aspirations of the people and in line with international best practices. These include forming the leadership process and ideologically classifying the ruling classes into blocks that must be flexible to time and general wish. The ruling class is not supposed to be a demarcation among the people because it will be open to anyone who wishes to be part of it. The system is called a political system; the ideological blocks are called political parties, while the process of getting into power will be the electoral process. Going by this explanation of what politics is all about, how many of our political parties, politicians, political culture, or even political systems align with the purpose of politics?
The inability of our politicians to understand the purpose of politics is the leading cause of electoral malpractice in our country. Politicians want to control power by all means. Whereas John said in the book of John 3:27,
John answered and said, Aman, can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
When a person is forcing himself to the top, such will not only be brought down into shame but also negatively affect the people around him because only a child force himself into places where they should not be, like Dina and Absalom in the bible. In contrast, the book of Ecclesiastes 10:16 made it clear that
woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and princes eat in the morning.
It is glaring that electoral malpractice is a sin and brings reproach to a nation. Just like Achan, the ungodly act of election fraud will always bring untold hardship to the whole citizenry.