Nigeria’s dominant elite pretend to be practicing a liberal democratic framework of governance for the country, but in reality are devoid of substance and without living up to expectations of its basic principles and tenets, Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Jega said this at the maiden lecture of Kwaravisioners Network for Rural Development, held in Ilorin on Saturday, at the University of Ilorin auditorium with the theme: ‘Politics, Governance and Leadership Recruitment in 21st Century Democracy.’
He said: “Political parties created by the dominant elite, purportedly as the special purpose vehicles for leadership recruitment and fielding candidates for elections as citizens elected representatives in the governance processes, have instead become special purpose vehicles for self-enrichment, obstruction of citizens aspirations and exploitative authoritarian control.”
According to him, they have therefore failed in discharging their core responsibilities under a liberal democratic dispensation, by giving primacy to self-serving objectives.
“They are poorly structured and organised, if they have manifestoes or programmes of action at all, these are mere documents written to fulfill a legal requirement for registration, but not believed in, they are not respected and they are not implemented. There is no discernible effort or interest aggregation beyond self-serving objectives,” he added.
In his lead paper at the lecture, Professor Jega said a close examination of the so-called dominant parties in Nigeria shows that there are no substantive ideological orientations and there are certainly no discernible ideological differences distinguishing one from the other.
“For example, who can tell what really differentiates the APC from the PDP? They are both funded and controlled by self-serving so-called ‘money bags’ and ‘godfathers’.
“Indeed, in each of these parties, state governors have increasingly become the ‘money bags’ and ‘godfathers’, controlling and influencing the leadership recruitment processes and virtually all affairs of the parties, by virtue of their control of and corrupt enrichment from public resources,” he said.
Professor Jega said, “Consequently, patronage, clientelism, and prebendal dispositions constitute the framework for leadership/candidate recruitment.”
He said the significance of character assessment traits and personal attributes of potential recruits is jettisoned and replaced by arbitrariness and self-serving objectives and dispositions.
The former INEC Chairman noted that the integrity of the electoral process is being systematically undermined covertly or overtly by the dominant elite in governance and their political parties.
“As they select or recruit potential clients and put them forth as candidates in elections, they use all sorts of undemocratic, illiberal and fraudulent means to get them elected,” he said.
He said for the country to stabilise and progress as a modern democratic nation-state in the 21st century, there is the need for hard work to change our ways.
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