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THE BENEFICIARIES OF NIGERIA’S ELECTORAL PROCESS BY ODIASE

Electoral Contests come and go with electioneering brouhaha and frenzy but the songs of victory and lamentations of defeat linger till the next round of elections.

As usual, victory song is never concordant to the nature of defeat in the same way that lamentations of loss or misfortune are invariably discordant to the nature of victory and success. Even so, both sides of the divide consider their songs and lamentations decidedly melodious and classic.

The reality is that in all electoral contests, there must be winners and losers. Thus, in line with reality, the Electoral Umpire declares winners and losers and statutorily issues (documentary) certificates of return to the winners and (verbal) certificates of rejection to the losers.

Electioneering and electoral contests, like a football tournament, are hazardous but the former, all together, is much more hazardous. While spectators and fans have fun watching a football match, some of the fanatics and gamblers among them, win or lose their staked resources; maim or murder opposing fans and even go to the extent of committing suicide, thereby creating perverse situations. In politics and electoral contests, however, the political parties, their candidates and supporters, are all gamblers, who stake virtually all their resources – hard-earned, borrowed, ill-gotten and even their lives, to acquire power. Political power that, literally, even infants perceive its uses! That is because, despite altruistic motives primitively mouthed, heist, assassinations, treachery, all sorts of criminality, are employed to win.

So, the euphoria and joy that electoral victory engenders are better experienced than imagined while the gloom and doom that stare at the losers are better imagined than experienced. Expectedly, as there are inevitably over all winners and losers of power at the end of all contests, there are also beneficiaries from the process on both sides of the contestants and contenders, as highlighted below:

If it were possible, some party and electoral officials would rather have elections conducted twice or at least once annually, considering that the process affords them access to sly generation of easy income. Reason being that, huge financial resources are committed by aspirants, candidates, the parties/financiers and government at federal and state levels, to the electoral process, and the vote (finance) is controlled by party and electoral officials during primaries, electioneering, voting and declaration of results.

Many electoral officials and party stalwarts are reputed to be so diligent in their respective duties, that it is no longer a secret that no amount of mending of the damaged till/safe they control can stop the profuse leakage through their fine fingers. Of course, they are better off for it, as the leakage is the hideously coded statutory benefit from political empowerment and aggrandizement.

Being privileged (to be imposed) to perform special electoral duty is presumed once in a life time access to great fortune. Albeit, greed and impunity, which always bare their fangs, usually make satisfaction of rapacious human wants impossible. So, the efficient staff would rather die on duty than promote justice, equity and other democratic values.

Apart from the officially budgeted outlay at the disposal of party and electoral personnel, there are also slush funds provided by the parties, their financiers and candidates, not only for the electoral personnel but also for party supporters assigned on various electioneering committees, and possibly or specifically for buying votes. This implies that some of the party men and women and unconscionable voters also benefit financially from electoral process. But the men/women entrusted with slush funds, benefit much more than all the paid voters as, invariably, less than half of the huge funds is disbursed. And this happens more often than not, to the detriment of the parties and candidates, especially opposition parties/candidates.

What matters to the officials and stalwarts is, how much they can smile to their banks with; not necessarily who wins the election. They always wangle and position themselves to serve in such capacities at all elections. They might not be eligible candidates for election but they readily make themselves available to serve as electoral fraudsters to benefit from electoral thievery.

Some of the electorally fraudulent stalwarts benefit in other ways, apart from having fat bank accounts after elections. More so, if they are in a ruling party. They land political appointments or contracts or both, while many other honest, hardworking party faithful gnash their teeth regretfully, languishing in frustration and penury.

Not many citizens of noble character make themselves available for election and leadership. Whereas many are intimidated and discouraged by the murky waters, some others are too poor and, or, chicken-hearted to venture it. Besides, the process of choosing candidates or flag bearers of political parties is so rigorous, tortuous and costly. For an aspirant to become a candidate, he/she must have spent outlandishly on lobbying leaders, officials and supporters, as well as cornering delegates and their votes. So, some other beneficiaries of electoral contests and the inherent heists include this chain of party men and women, who, as very highly priced delegates to the primaries, make huge capital from the process. It does not just matter to many of the delegates, whether or not, the candidates eventually win or lose the primaries or the main elections.

Are there other beneficiaries of the electoral process? Of course, there are! Another most outstanding set that must be mentioned here is the uniformed and plain clothes personnel on special duty. Each member of this set allegedly eats with both hands at the same time, even borrowing additional hands if need be, depending on the numerical and financial strengths of the political parties and their candidates.

Still along the line of beneficiaries, there are the self employed: the artisans like printers as well as traders and vendors of beverages, rental and food items. Even down to the local government level, the electoral process provides opportunities for these people to do brisk business and make easy money.

Who says there are no other winners and beneficiaries of electoral contests, apart from the parties, the elected candidates and political appointees? Compatriots, I say na lie! In every election in Nigeria, there are backroom and underhand beneficiaries in all contending parties, despite all the hue and cry about electoral malpractice and heists. The only difference with regard to who benefits more in the chain of participants and contenders is who won or wrested power from the ever short-changed populace.

So, ultimately, among other material benefits in electoral contests, power is the prize; the trophy wrested after all the hustling and bustling, jostling and tussling. And despite their lamentations and recriminations, the defeated contenders, in all likelihood, lack the wherewithal to change the narrative positively, should the pendulum swing to their advantage.

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