Politicians: Why they don’t keep their promises
By Evang. Kolade Segun-Okeowo
(National President, Believers in Politics)
The whole essence of politics is about the delivery of the good dividends of democracy to the people. Since democracy is defined as the government of the people by the people and for the people, it is expected that elected political officials should strive to ensure that all they do should be about the people and for the people.
Therefore Governance without the consideration of the people is nothing but a brutish state of affairs.
The expectation of the people from political office holders includes the creation of enabling environment for easy living through the provision of basic amenities and infrastructures such as education, health care, roads, electricity, portable water etc. The provision of these basic amenities amongst other things are the least that political office holders can do for the people. These expectations are usually exploited during electioneering campaigns by promising heaven and earth to the people in exchange for votes.
However, these expectations have been cruelly dashed on many occasions by political leaders; leaving the people anguished, poverty-stricken and left to scamper for pittances and scavenge crumbs from the largesse of political office holders.
This has led to an unwholesome situation where a larger percentage of the people have lost hope in the political class and have chosen to simply wait for electioneering period to manage in getting the little they can from aspirants and candidates knowing full well that once the elections are over, accessibility to political leaders is no longer guaranteed and electoral promises jettisoned.
The above scenario has continued to play out especially in African politics with particular reference to Nigeria. In recent elections, voters’ apathy has continued to increase. Using Lagos for example in the 2015 Presidential elections, a total of
nately greed has made leaders to acquire more than they ever need or would ever need, thus increasing the gap between “the haves and haves not”
Greed can never allow a political leader to fulfill his/her political promises to the people who voted him/her into office. This is because resources of government available to him is channeled towards meeting his personal needs and that of his immediate family. What in the world would make a politician acquire 67 wonder on wheels if not greed. What in the world does anyone need state of the art mansions in every state capital for if not greed?
2. OVERBLOATED RETINUE OF HANGERS-ON: African politicians suffer a lot from the residual effects of large retinue of hangars on. These are men and women who are completely dependent on political office holders for the daily livelihood. They are usually relations, political associates, friends and neighbours of the office holder.
These flock around the politician and expect daily doses of largesse and spoils. For some, that their relation or principal has won an election is an automatic ticket to prosperity, so they may never consider the option of taking up any form of gainful employment at all. They eat and cast all financial burdens on the politician who become saddled with this over-bloated responsibilities such that the fulfillment of electoral promises to constituents becomes a mirage.
An elderly associate and ministerial colleague of mine won election into the Legislative House in one of the states of the South West, Nigeria some years ago. She confessed to me how helpless she had become in fulfilling her electoral promises to the people of her constituency because of the large retinue of hangars on who depended on her for virtually everything.
She once told me how she finds it difficult to go home on weekends from the state capital except she holds cash in excess of N800, 000 (eight hundred thousand naira) This is because by the time she arrives home for weekend, a large number of dependents would have been waiting with their myriads of financial challenges for the “Messiah” She is expected to meet all these challenges. She explained to me that the money is usually exhausted before Sunday or Monday when she is to return to the state capital. In fact she returns with barely enough cash to fuel her car. That is just an example of many politicians face in their various constituencies.
How do you expect such a politician to fulfill her electoral promises to the people?
3. PRESSURE FROM PARTY LEADERS: Just like the large number of hangars-on who have become a burden to political office holders is also the challenge of party leaders. Since the Nigerian constitution do not give room for independent candidature, every political office holder must emerge and be sponsored by a political party. Flying the flag of a political party means that a politician has got the patronage of the leaders of the party who in turn expect him/her to reciprocate by offering them all kinds of largesse after the swearing in.
In one of the South-Western states of Nigeria, a state Governor lost his position as he was impeached by the State House of Assembly simply because the leader of the party who controlled more than two-third of the state legislature was no longer comfortable with the “pittances” he was getting from the Governor’s Office.
The situation could get that worse!
I personally got a dosage of this sad experience during my first experience of electioneering campaigns. I had, as part of my consultations with party leaders visited a particular Chieftain of the party and his group. I addressed them and explained my visions to them in the most brilliant manner I assumed. The old man listened attentively to me and allowed me to do all the “rattling”
When he responded, he condemned my speech and told me point blank that I was off the track. He told me if at all they want to support me to go to The House of Assembly, it is not for me to go and build roads and do electricity or construct classrooms. Instead, his expectation from me was to go into government and bring money for them to enjoy life! He was that raw! I was shocked and completely overwhelmed.
Just imagine “Go into government and bring money for us to enjoy life!”
4. EXCESSIVE CAMPAIGN EXPENSES: In this part of the world, campaign expenses are usually too high for politicians. More often than not, the expenses are usually borne by the candidates themselves. In saner climes, candidates raise funds and get massive donations to run elections. This is not the case in Nigeria.
The expenses borne by politicians seeking elective offices are usually too high and rather exorbitant for people who claim they want to go and serve the people. In real sense, spending such huge sums to win elections can never amount to wanting to serve the people but rather an investment that must yield.
To win elections into the office of Governor in Nigeria, billions of naira goes down the drain in form of campaign expenses. This include money spent to mobilize party leaders and members for primary elections, media and other logistics. It also include money used to induce voters on election days.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria electorates have become so carefree that selling of votes on election dates is no longer a big deal. A recent gubernatorial election held in July 2018 at Ekiti State, South-West Nigeria revealed that voters collected between N4,000 and 10,000 per vote. This is a sad development.
What miracle do you expect a Governor who had spent so much before winning election to perform when eventually sworn in? It is most assured that he would want to recoup his investments or pay back the major shareholders of the investment.
The people are always at the receiving end.
To get elected into the Federal House of Representatives, an average Legislator must have spent about one billion naira to win (At least, I know of a few who spent that much) That is absolutely huge !
Having spent that much, the legislator has only four years to re-coup the money spent. Assuming he gets salary and allowances of about twenty million naira monthly, the gross total of his income for the period of stay in the National Legislature is #960,000,000 (Nine Hundred and Sixty Million Naira) This is still less than the one billion spent on the campaigns.
How do you ensure that such a person fulfill electoral promises and prevent him from stealing.
Politicians: The way forward for them
In many instances, the politicians who hold elective office that we blame for being unable to fulfill their electoral promises are equally sad that they cannot deliver.
Some politicians in their private moments are sorrowful. Many even shed tears privately in their closets and regret ever taking up political offices. However, these are unknown to the general populace who are simply irked by the failures of the office holders and simply want a change of the person in office.
Unfortunately, the cycle continues.
Therefore, we must proffer solutions and way forward for politicians if the situation in our political system will change.
1. Electoral victory MUST not be “do or die”: Losing an election is not a sign that God has not spoken to you. When politicians see electoral victory as a do a die affair, they are compelled to invest all that they have into the elections. Borrowing, selling of choice properties and receiving financial support from strange fellows become the norm.
2. WE MUST STOP MILLING AROUND POLITICIANS: We MUST all learn to desist from milling around politicians for the sole aim of getting a share from their “largesses” Many friends and relations of politicians suddenly surface to “rejoice” with him on attaining office. The burden created by theses ones are rather too enormous for the perks and perquisites of the office. If truly we want political office holders to perform, we must all begin by avoiding the temptation of “casting all our burdens upon them” Think about your attitude if your immediate sibling wins an election….You are likely to say “Praise The LORD” … be sincere, what are you praising The LORD for Brother? Confess !!!
3. Be scandal free: He who must come to equity must come with clean hands. A little scandal is enough for the opposition to blow out of proportion. A sincere politician who means well for his people may suddenly find himself handicapped when faced with threats of blackmail generating from his secret misdemeanors or private wrong dealings. These can be blown out of proportion and used to tie his hands. Remember the case of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the fake NYSC certificate saga.
4. Steady source of income: Politics is expensive. Politicians should not depend solely on somebody for their electoral victory. If they do, then they become stooges. Many who went through that process become puppets when they get to office. They want to perform but are completely hindered by the clouts of sponsors. Plan to spend your money. However, spend only what you can afford to lose… just in case.
Okeowo could be reached on: 08034539934