38 Running from the senate

Written in December 2010, this took a jibe at the business of running for office in Nigeria[1]

These are indeed heady days for politicians. Meanwhile these are perplexing days for other citizens. Election fever is in the air and things are moving in rather interesting ways. Some ‘Excellencies’ thrown up by the world acclaimed defective electoral processes of 2007 have been shooed away and political equations and formulations are emerging in new twists and turns.

The removal of some governors has been neat and received with spontaneous celebrations of victories delayed. Some have been less straightforward. Take a look at the case of Delta State. There is going to be a rerun. Due to other happenings that have eliminated some of those who ran in 2007, such as death, carpet crossing or perhaps withering away of platforms, the ex-governor was about to possibly contest against himself. But then the codes were redefined and he can now look forward to a fight.

The buildup to the 2011 elections makes headlines daily. Imagine how innovative Nigerians can get in their bid to steal an election— by simply stealing data capturing machines. If I had one of those I could possibly generate enough voters’ cards to warrant the creation of several wards in my yard. And then I could market the cards or the election. In the past we have witnessed the grabbing of ballot boxes during election days; the employment of folks with stiff thumbs to thumb the cards and thump the election. Elections reduce unemployment! This election is also the first (correct me if I am wrong) to throw up a regionally endorsed candidate of a particular party to confront a candidate that arguably runs on a national platform.

New ambition, new platform

And what do you say when a minister who spent months brandishing a rebranding or rebranded Nigeria suddenly rebranding herself as a candidate for the senate, not on her party ticket but on another platform? Could it have anything to do with expiry dates of party formations, going by NAFDAC rules?

Come on, that is nothing new on these shores. If you are keen to seek elective office, you do not have to be encumbered by party loyalty. If party A does not give you the ticket, you can simply do a moonwalk on the carpet and pick up the ticket of a party you previously opposed. Call it a game or a dance. Call it what you like. What is important is that you grab a ticket and place your face on the ballot paper.

Do not be surprised if Atiku Abubakar, or even Goodluck Jonathan end up running on platforms you have never heard of.

Profitable venture

But what does it matter what party platform you contest on? If you are running for a seat in the Senate or in the House of Representatives, you may well be simply embarking on a most lucrative business venture. Seeing that the folks in the National Assembly have the knife and the yam as far as their personal emoluments are concerned, who would begrudge you if your desire is to say good bye to poverty, and that as quickly as possible, before the national economy goes kaput?

Nigerian law makers may well be termed money makers. But don’t you know the money trickles down? We get regaled with stories of senators and representatives who utilise their constituency allowances so judiciously that at least some people in their areas can boast of being given motor cycles, sewing machines and bags of salt. Do you imagine that those constituency projects will not move Nigeria to the next level?

I cannot imagine why the uproar that these folks in Abuja do earn 10 times more than their Ghanaian counterparts. Or that David Mark earns almost 10 times more than Barak Obama. Are we in Ghana or the United States of America?

What if these legislators have gulped N385.80 billion as salaries and benefits since their inauguration and are sure to swallow N515.80 billion by the time they end their four years term? Nigerians have to know that Abuja is an expensive city and these folks have to recover their electoral investment— the bags of salt, the payment of thugs that helps to fight unemployment on election days, the bottles of schnapps and beer. Yes?

I laughed out loud when I read an analysis that says that the money grabbed by the lawmakers in Abuja is enough to set up infrastructure to generate 2,572 megawatts of electricity. I think the analyst does not know if the bellies of these lawmakers are wired and connected to the national grid, we won’t need any further infrastructure to generate electricity.

It has also been said that the cash they have cornered is enough to build four brand new refineries and refurbish the four existing ones as an icing on the cake. What do you need more refineries for? Do you want to throw the petroleum products speculators into the poverty line? Haba[2]? Have you paused to imagine how much petroleum products can be obtained if we simply give these political fat cats bottles to collect their golden urine and ship to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company?

Okay, so many eyes are set on the hollow, sorry hallowed, chambers of the national assembly come 2011. I wish you luck and indeed I may vote for you irrespective of what platform you stand on since there are no ideological demarcations and no party programmes to prosecute and defend.

With all the goodies available in National Assembly and considering the fact that you can simply get there with two items on your agenda: grab and sleep, you may assume I am running too. You are right. However, I am running from the Senate.

  1. http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/news/general/64440-oil-politics-running-from-the-senate.html (accessed 7 June 2016)
  2. Nigerian word for 'that is incredible!' or 'come on!'


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Oil Politics by Nnimmo Bassey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Comments are closed.