The gubernatorial elections in Osun state Nigeria have been set for the 22nd of September 2018. It will feature 48 electoral parties, and also serve as a curtain raiser for next year’s general election in the country, as it also did for Nigeria’s 2015 general elections 2014. However, they will not be the only familiar features that have now been associated with Nigerian elections.
As is part of a tradition with Nigerian elections, the various political parties have been making their moves and putting their houses in order, hoping that a win for them will be a harbinger for their performances in the parliamentary, gubernatorial and presidential elections next year.
Nigeria’s biggest opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will be represented by Senator Ademola Adeleke, brother of Nigerian business mogul Adedeji Adeleke, and uncle to Nigeria’s music sensation, Davido. For the man called the “Dancing Senator”, dancing will not be the most important feature of the election. He faces a fight to win the state from Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) who have been in power in the state for eight years.
The motivation for APC keeping the status quo
APC’s rise in Osun state began in 2010 when its present governor Rauf Aregbesola won at an election tribunal that nullified the results of an election, which he contested but lost three years before, and made him governor. His installment as governor in 2010, was a forerunner for APC winning the governorship race for most of the Southwestern states a year later in the gubernatorial elections of 2011. It also meant that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari had a strong Southwestern APC base for his win in the presidential elections in 2015. The APC states gave Buhari more than 2 million votes, around the same amount of votes that just gave Buhari the edge over his closest opponent Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s last presidential election. Everything began in Osun state in 2010.
This is why this month’s gubernatorial election in the state plays a very important role in determining who wins Nigeria’s presidential elections next year. Analysts are not the only ones who have noticed this; Nigerian politicians know this too. They know their performance in the Osun elections will determine how ready they are for elections next year. However, while other political parties in functional democracies around the world try to leverage on their voters base, and encourage them to come out to vote on election day, while also giving them a breakdown of policy changes that will be made if their parties are voted in, Nigerian parties do things different from that.
Stomach Infrastructure in Nigeria
They do what Nigerians have now come to know as ‘stomach infrastructure’, which involves buying the votes of the electorates with money or food. No, it doesn’t mean that Nigerians are not civilized, it just means its leaders have devised a way to keep its people under their foot. By not providing social amenities and infrastructural development in the country, successive governments have perpetuated a form of poverty that has kept many Nigerians dependent on government handouts and made the country the world capital of poverty.
The latest ‘stomach infrastructure’ perpetuated by Nigeria’s ruling party APC happened in Osun state. In the run-up to the elections on the 22nd of September, two days ago, the Federal Government distributed 10,000 naira/$27.82 to more than 30,000 people in the state under its so-called “conditional cash transfer to the poor”.
Under the initiative, Nigeria’s Federal Government will distribute N10,000 each to 2 million petty traders in the country. The disbursement of the money is allegedly a clause in the agreement with Swiss authorities as conditions for returning Nigeria’s stolen loot. The latest loot which the MoU was allegedly attached to, and which is worth $322 million, was kept in Swiss banks by Nigeria’s former dictator Sanni Abacha. They are being repatriated by Nigerian government officials. There were fears that these monies will be re-embezzled by Nigeria’s leadership, and it seems those fears were not unfounded.
For example, many have asked how the Nigerian government has recognized the ‘poor’ who really needed the money, or how it will track the money to know it is used for what it was allegedly given for.
Hence, the question to be asked is, why would the Swiss authorities give Nigeria conditions on how to spend its own money? And if the conditions were true, why is the APC government in person disbursing the money few weeks to an election in the state?
Nigeria has a notorious past with stomach infrastructure and the ‘buying’ of votes. However, due to widespread poverty in the country, and the low minimum wage, people are usually happy to receive such monies shared an election period. While there is a short momentary gain for the people, in the long run, or at least throughout the administration of the politician who bought their votes, there would be no obligation to deliver the dividends of democracy, because the people had received them during elections. And then the cycle of corruption and embezzlement continues.