Bad Governance In Nigeria: Who To Blame?

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Bad Governance In Nigeria: Who To Blame?, By Yohanna Bwala

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Arguably, Nigeria has the funniest electorate of any nation in the world. Come election season, the credibility of a candidate standing for elections to any office in the land is gauged on the basis of the size of his/her campaign war chest. Politicians running for elections go as far as renting crowds at campaign rallies, all in the bid of having a temporary feeling of being the most popular candidate. Because such crowds are sort of a mirage, in order to reassure themselves of electoral victory, the politicians go further by spending huge sums of money on the electoral umpire – INEC, traditional rulers, religious leaders, voters, party leaders, and thugs loyal to the party.

This piece was written by Yohanna Bwala. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Asides the fact that Nigerian politicians spend their way to political offices during campaigns and elections, the foundation upon which elections stand – the voters register – is in most cases faulty. The credibility of an election rests largely on the credibility of the voters register; not only the casting and counting of votes. I was elated by the introduction of the card reader machine during the 2015 general elections, believing it would take care of those multiple registrations that survived the filtration process of unifying the voters’ record on INEC’s database.

Just like every man made system in the world, the card reader has revealed its own vulnerabilities, which our politicians – with the help of INEC insiders – exploited in order to bypass the electronic verification process. Doing so aided multiple voting: whereby a sizable number of the electorate willingly sold their votes to the highest bidder, under the supervision of INEC poll officials, election observers, party agents, security agents, and the general public.

In areas where that proved impossible, the violence option was activated; using thugs loyal to the candidate and his party. The snatching and stuffing of ballot papers into ballot boxes was rampant, nationwide, resulting in unnecessary injuries and deaths. As widely alleged, where cash inducement from political parties was substantial, original results of elections were handed to politicians by compromised INEC Staff, even before the deployment of staff and electoral material to the field, thereby rendering the outing an exercise in futility and a total wastage of taxpayers’ money.

What am I driving at, and what is the correlation between elections and bad governance? Our politicians are not omnipresent beings. They cannot be everywhere doing everything, all at the same time. To manipulate the system, they need the cooperation of every stakeholder in the electoral process. Compromising election stakeholders requires huge sums of money. Remember, our politicians are not aid workers, neither are they related to Santa Claus. Whatever they spend during elections is spent with the hope of recouping such funds with interest after being sworn into office; while the unsuccessful ones end up being miserable after the elections.

Their only hope of surviving until the next political cycle is by decamping to the ruling party, be it at state or national level. Our political parties are basically run like kitchens; once the cooking and dishing out of food stops, no one bothers visiting the kitchen anymore. The party in power then becomes the love of every ‘patriotic’ politician in the land.

Whatever religious belief/moral code you live by, there is a basic principle that governs life and the consequence of one’s actions: The Principle of Sowing and Reaping. Whatever one sows, one is bound to reap in multiples of same seed when it’s harvest time. Take our electioneering campaigns and general elections as the onset of the rainy season. Our politicians are the farmers and we the electorate are the ground upon which they plant their political seeds. As the successful ones at the polls spend their way into office, they get to enjoy the fruits of their electoral labour – the bountiful harvest of our commonwealth. Whereas we the electorate are left to wallow in misery: wondering what our crimes were, for God to “curse” us with the type of politicians we have. Are we really being sincere with ourselves? The truth is: our politicians are not aliens. They come from families, communities, and nationalities. Whenever it is election season, before collecting that bag of rice, salt, motor bike, face cap, mobilisation money for campaign rallies, recharge card PIN, free seat for pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and money for your votes, just know that what you are collecting is an advance overdraft for that road/water/electricity project your community is in dire need of. Have you ever asked yourself why our political office holders always find it hard paying workers’ salaries months after general elections?

As we come together in unison condemning budget padding and the theft of bailout funds and other related monies by our legislators and executives, both at the state and federal levels, we should also know that, good or bad, what they are doing to us and the generation of Nigerians unborn is guided by the principle of sowing and reaping. So long as they anticipate yet another cycle of high-spending electioneering campaigns in 2019, we should expect many more cases of budget padding and primitive looting of our commonwealth. And after recouping what they spent during the 2015 elections, it’s only natural that they go further into saving for the future, knowing that the only way to find themselves in the good books of the electorate come 2019, is by outspending each other – a basic survival instinct. And how can they steal a kobo from the treasury, without the cooperation of our civil servants in the various ministries across the nation? We can’t keep selling our mandate to the highest bidder and at the same time expect good governance.

Whenever we complain about the impunity of our political office holders, we should also acknowledge the fact that their sense of entitlement and impunity were given to them through our choice(s) at the polls. When someone ‘buys’ himself a position in government at a premium, it’s only logical that that person exercises the power of that office to the fullest value, for money spent. You can’t sell a car to person and still dictate to him which colour he paints it or which road to drive it on and which not to. The amount of money spent by our politicians at the polls is inversely proportional to the quality of governance to be delivered to the citizenry while in office.

Yohanna Bwala is a Lagos based environmental geologist.

This piece was written by Yohanna Bwala. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of



I am but your herald boy in the art of the pen.. An eccentric Environmental Biologist smouldered in the glorious epiphany of online journalism. If you ever find my article unduly insipid, sue me and i’ll refund you...

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