Thieving: Incumbency in Elections

Thieving: Incumbency in Elections

One would wonder why the power of incumbency of presidents and governors in Nigeria,elsewhere in Africa and other places in the world is well-near indomitable at general elections. While incumbents can use state resources to campaign against the opposition, to buy votes wholesale and rig elections with impunity such resources are not always enough to secure election victory. Well, certainly not in 2015.

Electronic technology is exposing electoral malpractices quite easily and graphically. The international community has also taken a keen interest in Nigeria watching its every move. The question then arises, why is it that parties with incumbency whether recent or well-entrenched win elections (sometimes sincerely) unless in exceptional cases.

The business of government is a continuing one. Even in totally failed states there is some governance which is a continuation of the state’s government when was “stable”. This continuity in governance is invariably supported by the ruling elite otherwise known as “special interest groups”; these are the Big individuals, Big corporations (contractors and consultants) and power cliques that decide the destiny of Nigeria. (See: The Owners of Nigeria Technostructure (ONT)

Members of special interest groups distribute state resources selectively to themselves and hand the leftovers to the public coffers to “run and develop” the country making them distributive coalitions. The special interest groups also are the cultural, economic, religious and political elite of Nigeria and as such are hard to oppose or challenge. They often use the leaders of executive, legislature and judiciary as their proxies (boy boys) since they hold the real power (behind the scenes).

Big contractors and big businesses seek very large payments and profits from past, current and future government projects worth billions of dollars. These vast payments and profits depend exclusively on the government of the day remaining in power. This is a keen incentive for such groups to support the government of the day using all the resources and tools at their disposal to keep the government of the day in power.

It is of no concern to the special interest groups if the government offering them a fortune did well as administrators in power or not. They are never going support a man who would to win the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize for good leadership. They simply want to milk Nigeria for what it is worth in the most ruthless ways imaginable. Their philosophy is “peace when we get what we want and hell when we do not”.

It is therefore special interest groups who determine the power of incumbency of sitting executives. Dirty tricks, violence and subversion are their usual tactics when things go evidently against the will of special interest groups in Nigeria. In the absence of a strong opposition we have seem reasonable peace at the polls but the submerged fireworks may appear this time since an opposition with a chance of winning big has emerged.

For this reason it President Goodluck Jonathan himself may not be desperate to hold on to power and seek a second term election victory. But we must make no mistake, the special interest groups that have invested in the Jonathan administration seriously fear they might lose their fortunes in a situation where Muhammadu Buhari wins the election especially knowing his administration might re-vet any crooked projects or undeserved payments to be made to them for their distributive businesses and contracts with government.

If there is trouble (violence and mayhem) during or after the elections it is the special interest groups who should be held responsible.

Grimot Nane

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