A Response to “Political Party Funding & Nigerians”


If I may extend your argument, there was a time when political party funding was ethical (enough). This was the period after World War II up to the 1970s manly in the developed world. The current unethical nature of political party funding is not peculiar to Nigeria since it all started and blossomed in some of the world’s oldest democracies. The reasons for the transition from ‘legitimate ethical’ to ‘legalised unethical’ party funding are numerous but a few will touched on here.

Firstly, the business elites resented the post-war conditions placed on them such as the high taxes (super taxes) they had to pay on their profits, the state regulation of their corporations, the welfare state but above “the one man / women, one vote” principle. The conditions they wanted created was achieved by economists and intellectuals of the Mont Perelin Society and corporate owners is what we now know a neoliberalism (and its consequences). Furthermore, corporations empowered by massive privatisation, phenomenal profits and disempowered governments supplanted a “voters’ democracy” with a “lobbyists’ democracy” i.e. democracy sold to the highest bidder at the regulatory level and beyond making the votes of the electorate effectively worthless. You cannot vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Shell, General Motors or Microsoft.

Secondly, with the money-only incentive of neoliberalism as the central doctrine of people lives in general they became more self-serving in an age where “greed is right”. The days of “the struggle is its own reward” and “too much government intervention is bad” were over. An unforeseen consequence of this doctrine coupled with the demise of competing ideologies held by political parties, politics became increasing expensive and spiralling… The only people who could afford to influence political parties were not leading ideologues, super activists, “good men and women”, the odd maverick, but corporations with loads of money. Party conventions are now corporate opportunities events not for the party faithful.

Thirdly, with the spiralling cost politics and participation in it, the politician who once held high levels of power when elected now became a modest pawn of corporations. For politicians in office to get re-elected they have to spend up 80% of their time fund raising for their campaigns. An index of election success is measured in spent per constituency campaign e.g. Mr A spent $3 dollars for every $1 Miss B spent to win Michigan. The big donors co-opt, compromise or corrupt the desperately needy politicians before giving them their money. Quid pro quo.

Fourthly, the days when politicians across the board, regardless of their persuasion or ideology, entered into politics for the “public good” ended in the 1980s. Now politicians seek only what is good for them and there is no better way of doing this than serving the interests of corporations who fund their elections generously and give them lucrative jobs and contracts when they leave office. Politics of the minority, corporations and politicians, is all we now have. Voters and democracy has been overthrown.

Fifthly, there was a time when Nigerian politicians could look to or be nagged in to looking at Western nation like the United States and the United Kingdom for ethical guidance and the right approach to politics. Such guidance and approach is now dated. Nigerians anywhere in the world when supporting / defending their favoured Nigerian politicians and political parties will quickly google a similar unethical occurrence in the USA or UK or elsewhere.

How do I conclude?

Grimot Nane

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