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THE DANGERS OF PVC EMPOWERMENT By Augustine Omilo

Observers of the political trend in Nigeria will agree that a new phenomenon has been introduced into our political system. It is called ‘PVC empowerment’. This is a momentary creation of wealth for the poor Nigerian masses who have since lost their sense of dignity due to the selfish strategies of politicians to hold on to power perpetually with little or no consideration for the plight of those who queue under the sun or rain to vote them into office.

This is a dangerous situation for a nation in need of a corruption-free society. Though not completely unknown to Nigerians, it became exposed in 2016 when a prominent governor was concluding his tenure and needed to ensure victory for his preferred candidate. The governor introduced financial inducement to the electorate in desperation for the retention of his political party’s hold on the State. Even though his political opponents followed suite, it was difficult to match him as he was operating in conjunction with his mentors at the federal level. His party’s candidate ‘won’ the poll.

The legal battle that ensued later could not change anything.  The opponent of the ‘elected’ governor who had earlier been tipped by political pundits to carry the day has since cosigned himself to fate with a consolation in the axiom that he who fights and run away lives to fight another day. Whether the day comes or not can only be left for the future to tell.

A similar occurrence was recorded in Ekiti State on July 14, 2018 when the Nigerian press was awash with the news that the conduct of the election for a new governor to succeed Ayo Fayose was largely converted to a ‘war’ of naira and kobo. It was alleged that some voters even received as much as N7, 000 to influence them.

The most disturbing aspect of this ugly scenario is the fact that some smart fellows armed with their permanent voters’ card (PVC) even collected huge sums of money from different political parties and yet did not vote for them. Imagine a state governorship contest recording a total vote of less than 320,000 where you have over 2 million people registered for elections!

The conduct of the Ekiti governorship election which was variously described as a shame by the losers, especially the PDP has once again brought to the fore the issue of the sincerity on the part of our leaders on the fight against corruption. Till date, no one has been arrested in Ekiti for corruptly influencing voters with tax payers’ money to vote for or against candidates in the election.

It beats every form of human logical reasoning to witness an election where the winner carried the day in twelve out of the total number of sixteen local government areas that make up the state with about 190,000 votes whereas his opponent ‘won’ in just four local government areas with about 170,000 votes. This sounds like a puzzle!

Even though the APC feels cool about the outcome of the result as announced by the returning officer appointed by the same party, the late MKO Abiola once said that in any discussion involving two people, if a lie is told, at least one person knows. And this is where conscience has a great role to play. Will it be justified for a government fighting against corruption to have the moral standing to bring others to book when the fighter himself came to power through massive corruption?

Shockingly, a young man in Ekiti state who was asked to explain why he was involved in being bribed before voting retorted; “I did not even vote. I just collected their money and went home to relax. It was my first time of receiving government money with my Masters’ degree. Of what benefit is it for me to vote for a person only for him to continually amass wealth for himself and family while making me look like one who failed a money-making examination?”

If this is the position of youths in Nigeria, it means that a goat can even win an election in present Nigeria as long as it has enough money to ‘buy’ votes. This is dangerous. It has to be addressed before it gets out of hands like other vices currently plaguing us, notably armed robbery, kidnapping, yahooism, ritual killings, religious bigotry, certificate racketeering to mention a few that crept into our system before it. While the government seem to be clueless about curbing these vices, the addition of yet another one as we are presently witnessing stands to put Nigeria perpetually on the path of moral ruin as “he who goes to equity must come with clean hands.”

The leaders are not helping matters. Elsewhere, if a leader is confirmed to have failed integrity test, he or she honourably resigns from leadership position. In the last one month, the minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has remained in the news as one who did not enlist into the mandatory National Youth service corps (NYSC) after graduation from the University or exempted from such national assignment. The woman and those that appointed her into office have remained adamant to the accusations against her.

Ordinarily, non possession of an NYSC certificate should not matter in a case such as that of Kemi since that paper does not add value to any one’s skill in most cases. After all, merely being educated up to secondary school level with even more ‘Fs’ than ‘Ps’, qualifies any Nigerian adult to become our overall boss. All the same, Adeosun and President Mohammadu Buhari owe us a moral duty to do the needful.

To a very great extent, the only option left for Nigeria to be on the path of greatness remains education beyond certificates, thorough moral teachings and proper religious upbringing. It is only through these that the leaders and the led will come to terms with the fact that no one can ever escape the wrought of natural justice as grievous damnation awaits any evil doer who violates the principles of sowing and reaping as spelt out in most religious books.

Those who give or accept ‘PVC empowerments’ are punishable under appropriate laws of nature notwithstanding the docility of the leaders; except if such acts are carried out in appreciation of jobs well done and not pre-conditions for possibly inflicting injuries on humanity.

The political class must do well to distribute appropriate empowerment packages across all strata of the voting population in order to dissuade the lesser minds from taking the path of doom at the detriment of themselves on one hand and the nation at large on the other.

The creation of chaotic situations in Nigeria as a result of electoral misbehavior portends danger of crisis in the country. President Buhari must not allow this!

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