Political and governance development in Nigeria is in its infancy since the return to democratic/civilian rule in 1999. Coupled with series of reforms in the political and electoral system in Nigeria, very little improvement is seen on how political actors and stakeholders play politics in Nigeria. The political landscape/atmosphere is characterised largely by the conventional politicians with rudimentary political ideologies of profit making which goes for the highest bidders and moneybags.
The conventional Nigerian politicians and political stakeholders see politics as a business venture for economic gains. This informs the current price tags on all elective positions from all political parties in the land all the way from a local government counsellor to the President. And the resultant effect of this kind of system is the do-or-die tendency the politicians bring to the political scene to win the election, recoup their investment and make profit. This has caused those who would venture into politics to make developmental impact to stay clear from the scene due to lack of economic and monetary muscle on one part and the inability to play the do-or-die game.
Although there have been calls for political participation of the mainstream population, these calls only end at election and voting. However, participation in party politics has received so little attention, especially from the young population. Party politics is very key in political participation because that is where elective positions and decisions are shared and taken. Therefore, the ability to stand for any elective position is seen by many as a great feat and it is presumed that one has garnered enough financial resources to withstand the rigour of party nomination, electioneering campaigns and several other activities that would see to the eventual victory of such an individual. However, this ability can only be achieved through sponsorship thereby creating room for godfatherism both economically and politically. The current bill that would pave way for young people to stand for elective positions if pass into law and the ongoing amendment of the 1999 constitution to allow independent candidature run parallel to the current political structure and electoral system in Nigeria if the later is not tinkered with.
It is, therefore, imperative for a new set of politicians to emerge in Nigeria’s political landscape to counter the conventional politicians. These sets of politicians are called development oriented politicians with development mindset to create impact in the Society and not for monetary or economic gains. Development-oriented politicians can only emerge from community-based organisations (CBOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), faith-based organisations (FBOs) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are development based. These organisations other than political parties would act as the sole benefactors to these politicians and their focus is purely development, impact-driven and service. They would search within their membership, identify good and impeccable individuals that can stand for elective offices, fund their electoral activities – from grassroots mobilisation to electioneering campaigns through a political party platform that suite their ideologies. In return, the candidate only ploughs back to the organisation based on agreed terms and conditions for the organisational sustainability in order to fund and sponsor others in future elections.
The advantage of this is that –
- These sets of politicians stand a better chance to deliver on their electioneering promises because their sponsors would not require them to pay back whatever has been invested in their electioneering exercises thereby freeing up resources for developmental projects and activities
- Political godfatherism is eliminated so the individual has no encumbrance in discharging his/her duties
- They are only answerable to the people who send them there
- These organisations are closer to the people and have wider and broader structures than political parties so they are better placed to reach a larger audience
- They utilise both the party platform and the platform of the organisation that sponsors them to reach a larger audience for support
- These organisations stand a better chance of fielding best brains, intellectuals, technocrats and young people for political offices that deliver.
Finally, it is suggested that CBOs, CSOs, FBOs and NGOs begin to partner and collaborate with relevant groups to midwife this new set of politicians to wrestle political powers from the conventional politicians and political actors in Nigeria. It is believed that if this is done, the conventional, archaic and moneybag politicians will realise that their game is up and that the people have woken up to rewrite Nigeria’s political narratives for the development of the nation and the people. They will have no choice than to leave the scene.